Friday 19 January 2018

Brace from Ashton has Sarries top

Zebre 10 Saracens 39

Quintin Geldenhuys of Zebre tackles Matt Stevens of Saracens
Quintin Geldenhuys of Zebre tackles Matt Stevens of Saracens

Saracens claimed top spot in Heineken Cup Pool 3 with a 39-10 bonus-point victory over Zebre.

George Kruis, Ernst Joubert and Chris Wyles all crossed before Chris Ashton scored twice in the space of eight minutes to wrap up the victory.

Samu Vunisa claimed a late consolation score for Zebre but it was never enough to trouble the visitors who recovered from their defeat to Toulouse at Wembley Stadium to get their campaign back on track.

From the moment Charlie Hodgson kicked Saracens ahead from the sixth minute they rarely looked likely to surrender the lead.

The Italians were made to pay for basic errors deep inside their own half when a knock-on handed Sarries an attacking scrum from which second-row Kruis crashed over from five metres out on 13 minutes.

Hodgson converted and added a second penalty before another set-piece move saw Saracens claim their second try.

No 8 Joubert stormed over from a well-worked lineout and despite Hodgson missing the conversion from out wide, Saracens led 18-0 after 24 minutes.

Goode mounted a counter-attack and Ashton handed Wyles a simple finish with Hodgson converting.

David Strettle saw his try ruled out for obstruction earlier in the move before Ashton made sure of the bonus point on 61 minutes with Hodgson adding the extras.

The England wing then grabbed a second just moments later after good work by Strettle and Goode. Owen Farrell converted for his first points of the game.

However, Zebre finished the stronger and after Saracens replacement Duncan Taylor was binned for not releasing the tackled player, Vunisa stepped through a gap in midfield and galloped 50 metres for a rousing score that gave the home crowd something to cheer.

Scorers – Zebre: S Vunisa try, L Orquera con, G Garcia pen. Saracens: G Kruis, E Joubert, C Wyles, C Ashton (2) tries, C Hodgson 2 pens, 3 cons, O Farrell con.

Zebre: G Palazzani; L Sarto, K Ratuvou, G Garcia (R Quartaroli 54), G Venditti; T Iannone (L Orquera 59), A Chillon (G Toniolatti 62); G Perugini (A De Marchi 54), T D'Apice (A Manici 29), L Leibson (L Redolfini 62), Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami (M van Vuren 63), M Bergamasco, N Cattina (E Caffini 51), S Vunisa.

Saracens: A Goode; C Ashton, C Wyles (M Bosch 51), D Taylor, D Strettle; C Hodgson (O Farrell 62), N de Kock (R Wigglesworth 51); R Barrington (J Saunders 68), S Brits (J George 54), J Johnston (M Stevens 51), S Borthwick (E Sheriff 62), G Kruis, B Vunipola, K Brown (J Wray 56), E Joubert.

Referee: P Gauzere (France)

Sunday Independent

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