Sunday 18 August 2019

Saracens storm back to clinch Champions Cup win at Ulster

Saracens took complete control of Pool One by coming away from the Kingspan Stadium with a hugely impressive 27-9 win over Ulster to bring Mark McCall's side two wins from two in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

The Aviva Premiership leaders scored the game's only tries through Chris Wyles, Alex Goode, Duncan Taylor and Billy Vunipola with the touchdowns from Goode and Taylor being scored when the visitors were down to 14 men.

Indeed, Saracens shipped two yellow cards, coming in either half, with Michael Rhodes and Vunipola being sent to the bin, but actually managed to make light of both potentially damaging situations.

On a bitterly cold night, with a swirling wind and occasional snow, Owen Farrell kicked just one penalty and a conversion while Ulster's only scores were in the first half with Paddy Jackson kicking two penalties and a drop goal. Charlie Hodgson also added a conversion for Sarries.

Ulster, playing their first game after last weekend's postponement at Oyonnax, led 9-5 at the break but failed to score again and their hopes of qualification have now suffered potentially terminal damage in Les Kiss' first European game in charge.

Ulster got the scoreboard moving at the 15-minute mark after Darren Cave had been hit high by Brad Barritt, with Jackson nailing the kick from close range.

The hosts managed another score on 20 minutes when, with a penalty coming their way and the wind behind them, Jackson coolly slotted a drop goal.

Five minutes later and referee Romain Poite reversed a penalty he had initially given against Ulster after Nick Williams was downed by a no-arms tackle from Jacques Burger. Jackson landed the kick and the home side now led 9-0.

But Sarries hit back right on the half-hour when wing Wyles crossed in the corner after the visitors had shaped to maul a line-out but then moved the ball at pace right across the line with Goode providing the assist.

Farrell failed to add the difficult conversion but Ulster's lead had been cut to four points. It could have been cut to one had Farrell not missed another penalty attempt just before the half-time whistle.

The second half began with Saracens laying siege to Ulster's line and only a charge out of defence from Iain Henderson got the home side out of their half. Vunipola was then sin-binned in the 54th minute after hitting Iain Henderson high.

But it was the visitors who struck and despite being down a man, Goode put up a chip which Wyles gathered and his wonderful off-load took out two defenders and sent Goode over unopposed.

This time, Farrell nailed the conversion - his first success of the night - and on the hour Sarries had the lead 12-9.

Still down to 14 men, Sarries came again with Farrell dummying and dancing through the tiring Ulster defence to put Taylor through. Again he missed the extras but at 17-9, and with Vunipola now back, the Premiership side looked in complete control.

Farrell then slotted a penalty before Sarries grabbed their bonus score in the last minute when, with Rory Best in the bin, Vunipola was driven over in a maul and Hodgson converted.

PA Media

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