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Snubbed England players shine as Saracens ease past Bristol

By PA
Hugh Tizard shakes hands with Ben Earl of Saracens after being awarded a penalty during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bristol Bears and Saracens at Ashton Gate on November 05, 2022 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

League leaders Saracens maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign with a convincing 25-10 victory over Bristol at Ashton Gate.

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It was Saracens’ eighth win of the season, although it was the second time they failed to secure the additional bonus-point.

Max Malins scored their only try, which Alex Goode converted before kicking six penalties.

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Replacements Harry Thacker and Jonathan Benz Solomon both crossed for Bristol as they crashed to a fifth successive league defeat.

Bristol entered the field to an impressive display of fireworks but this was not repeated in the opening quarter as both sides were content to hoist the ball skywards in the difficult conditions.

Bristol had slightly better of the opening exchanges with both their new wings making an early impression. Debutant, Gabriel Ibitoye made a couple of lively runs while Deago Bailey pulled off an excellent tackle on Malins, who will return to Bristol at the end of the season.

Neither side remotely threatened the try-line in a pedestrian and scoreless first 20 minutes with few points of note to interest an enthusiastic crowd.

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A couple of cross-field kicks from Bears’ fly-half Callum Sheedy were at least inventive but they failed to produce any dividends.

Saracens had the first real opportunity for points after 24 minutes but they turned down a 20-metre kick straight in front of the posts in favour of more attacking options and it proved the wrong call as the home defence held firm to repel a couple of driving line-outs.

On his 340th appearance for the club, Saracens fly-half Goode tried something creative by chipping over the top but the ball bounced unfavourably as the action continued to take place between the 22’s.

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The first score came after 33 minutes thanks to the improvisation of Malins, who received another Bristol kick before chipping ahead. The full-back was first to the ball to propel it forward again and collect before holding off the cover defence to score.

Goode converted and then added two penalties in quick succession to leave Saracens with a 13-0 interval lead.

After the restart, Goode kicked two more penalties to leave Bristol with a mountain to climb but the hosts at last showed something in attack when replacement Thacker finished off a driving line-out.

Sheedy missed the conversion before Goode was on target with another two penalties to seal victory.

Bristol had the final say when Ben-Solomon crashed over for a consolation try with two minutes left on the clock but it was too late to salvage the game.

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