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Saracens down Connacht in high-scoring Champions Cup contest

By PA
Owen Farrell of Saracens tussles with Shayne Bolton of Connacht, resulting in a penalty for Connacht, during the Investec Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 2 match between Saracens and Connacht at Stone X Stadium in Barnet, England. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Saracens got their quest for a fourth European title back on track by beating Investec Champions Cup opponents Connacht 55-36 at the StoneX Stadium.

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Mark McCall’s team recovered from defeat against the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend to claim a bonus-point triumph.

It was not all plain-sailing, with Connacht leading by nine points approaching half-time, but England hooker Jamie George’s try double just before the interval settled Saracens down.

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Jamie George passionately defends Owen Farrell | Big Jim Show | RPTV

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Jamie George passionately defends Owen Farrell | Big Jim Show | RPTV

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Flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez claimed an early touchdown, while centre Olly Hartley marked his first Champions Cup start by collecting the bonus-point touchdown after 43 minutes and then posting another score.

Wings Sean Maitland and Lucio Cinti also crossed, as did hooker Theo Dan, with skipper Owen Farrell kicking three penalties and three conversions as Saracens scored 35 unanswered points between the 33rd and 61st minutes.

Connacht, crushed 41-5 at home by Bordeaux-Begles in their Champions Cup opener, saw centre Bundee Aki, scrum-half Caolin Blade, flanker Cian Prendergast, plus substitutes JJ Hanrahan and Joe Joyce score tries, which meant a losing bonus, with Jack Carty booting two conversions and a penalty and Hanrahan adding two conversions.

Match Summary

3
Penalty Goals
1
8
Tries
5
3
Conversions
4
0
Drop Goals
0
138
Carries
88
8
Line Breaks
3
18
Turnovers Lost
14
7
Turnovers Won
8

Champions Cup holders La Rochelle, meanwhile, suffered an agonising defeat against the Stormers in Cape Town – their second successive loss of the tournament – following a late Andre-Hugo Venter try that Manie Libbok converted to secure a 21-20 verdict.

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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