Saracens return to winning ways with Worcester rout
Saracens bounced back from their defeat at Exeter to claim a precious bonus-point victory in their pursuit of Gallagher Premiership survival after dismantling Worcester 62-5. Rooted to the foot of the table after being docked 35 points for breaching salary cap regulations, the champions ran in 10 tries against outclassed opponents at Allianz Park.
Rotimi Segun, a late replacement for the injured Sean Maitland, crossed in each half to spearhead the assault while Ben Earl, Brad Barritt, Mako Vunipola, Richard Barrington, Maro Itoje, Duncan Taylor, Jackson Wray and Elliot Daly also touched down.
Mako Vunipola’s try on the half-hour mark secured the bonus point but then received an injury to his shoulder when illegally cleared out at a ruck and was substituted at half-time.
The resounding victory restored Saracens to winning ways having fallen 14-7 to arch-rivals Exeter six days ago and has come in the week that owner Nigel Wray stepped down as chairman in the wake of the salary cap scandal.
A match spanning 126 minutes was overshadowed by a potentially serious injury to Worcester’s replacement lock Michael Fatialofa, who had been on the pitch just over a minute when he was hurt taking the ball into contact.
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The play was held up for several minutes as Fatialofa received medical attention before he was carried from the pitch on a stretcher with his neck in a brace. Compounding a torrid afternoon was the sight of Conor Carey, their replacement tighthead, bouncing on one leg as he was helped off by two of Worcester’s backroom staff.
Signs that the Warriors faced an uphill struggle came when Earl made a dynamic start as he powered over for the opening try, before winning the turnover that enabled Saracens to renew their attack and score a second through Segun.
Saracens’ pack played a key role in both touchdowns as waves of runners, led by the tackle-busting Vunipola brothers, battered an unstoppable path through the Warriors. Their dominance up-front was underlined when Barritt was at the bottom of a successful line-out drive but Worcester full-back Jamie Shillock being outjumped by Alex Lewington in the build-up had invited pressure.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 2, 2020
Segun showed his footwork and pace to tear through the visiting defence, and had he passed to Elliot Daly Saracens would have had the bonus point. But on the half-hour mark, it duly arrived. Jamie George was stopped just short of the line following clever play from Owen Farrell but Mako Vunipola was on hand to complete the move.
Farrell then came through an anxious few moments as Craig Maxwell-Keys reviewed his tackle on wing Tom Howe but the referee decided it was a penalty only. Lock Anton Bresler was not spared the sin-bin, however, for his dangerous clear-out of Mako Vunipola that left the England prop in considerable pain, while Will Skelton also rode his luck at the same breakdown.
Mako Vunipola failed to appear for the second half but otherwise normal service resumed, with Worcester scrambling furiously to defend their line, and only a double tackle by Shillcock and Scott Van Breda prevented Earl from scoring a second.
“PRO14 rugby is much more exciting than Premiership rugby, has been for years."
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 29, 2019
The move continued and replacement prop Barrington went over as the floodgates opened, Richard Wigglesworth’s break downfield given fresh legs by Titi Lamositele before Maro crossed. Once Fatialofa’s unfortunate collision had been dealt with, wing Ed Fidow raced over in the left corner to spare Worcester total humiliation, but it was only a brief interlude as Segun produced a moment of genius to give Taylor an easy chance.
Taylor was held up over the line but Saracens continued to run riot and Jackson Wray was the next to score before Daly put the Warriors out of their misery with the final blow to leave the champions 18 points adrift of eleventh placed Leicester.
– Press Association
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