Thursday 20 June 2019

Supersub Earl makes stunning impact to inspire Sarries fightback

Simon Zebo. Photo: Sportsfile
Simon Zebo. Photo: Sportsfile

Ben Earl produced one of the great cameos in European rugby as he scored with his first two touches to help Saracens fight back and see off Cardiff Blues in a 51-25 rout that keeps them at the top of Pool Three.

Cardiff led at the break thanks to a tries from Blaine Scully and a wonder-score from Matthew Morgan in response to Richard Wigglesworth's early opener, but doubles from Earl and Sean Maitland as well as tries through replacements Ben Spencer and Christian Judge secured the emphatic victory, despite Olly Robinson's late consolation.

Saracens have been relentless this season, unbeaten across the Premiership and Europe, and no-one has been able to carve up their defence quite like Morgan did.

The Cardiff full-back's solo effort lit up an entertaining first half in which two periods of Saracens domination sandwiched a phase of brilliant running rugby from the Blues.

Eight teams have come to Allianz Park before yesterday and eight have left in defeat, and when Wigglesworth scored the opening try of the match early on, it looked to be business as usual, but Cardiff roared back to lead 18-13 at half-time.

Three minutes after his introduction No 8 Earl forced a turnover, then eventually found space to score in the corner. Two minutes later he bagged a second try, picking off Gareth Anscombe's pass to run in unopposed. From there the game was over as a contest.

In Paris, Simon Zebo got on the scoresheet as Pool 4 leaders Racing 92 recorded a 36-26 victory over Leicester, who now lie third on six points, three behind second-placed Ulster.

In the end Racing's power game proved too much as they scored five tries through Virimi Vakatawa, Juan Imhoff, Zebo, Baptiste Chouzenoux and Olivier Klemenczak. Leicester's efforts came via Jonah Holmes, Sione Kalamafoni, Manu Tuilagi and Adam Thompstone.

Irish Independent

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