Sarries stay in hunt for semi
By Simon Yau. Last Updated: 09/10/05 4:45pm
Saracens v London Irish
Powergen Cup, Vicarage Road, Sunday October 9
Saracens still harbour dreams of qualifying for the semi-finals of the Powergen Cup after extracting maximum points from their 32-13 win over London Irish at Vicarage Road.
The home side gained an extra bonus point for scoring four tries through Kevin Sorrell, Kyran Bracken, Paul Bailey and Ben Skirving, while Glen Jackson also weighed in with a personal haul of 12 points with his boot.
Sarries coach Mike Ford made several changes to his starting line-up from the team that was defeated by Cardiff Blues last week, with England international Bracken returning at scrum-half for his first start of the season.
It was Bracken who inspired the first touchdown as he stole the ball from under Ben Willis in the sixth minute. He then reworked the ball through to Jackson, whose deflected chip fell into the hands of Sorrell, and he showed some clinical finishing to sidestep Delon Armitage to go in under the sticks.
The Exiles tried to play some expansive rugby but only succeeded in making several costly handling errors, as just 11 minutes into the match, the hosts took a firm grip on the encounter.
Jackson collected a loose ball following an Irish attack and bombed it downfield and the bounce fell kindly for Bailey to snap up and slide over. Jackson made it two conversions out of two and though Riki Flutey replied with a penalty, that three-pointer was cancelled out seconds later by Jackson again.
Half an hour into the match the contest was all but over following an Irish knock-on from a defensive lineout. Three successive scrums followed for Saracens who powered forward before Skirving paved the way for Bracken to force the ball down. That left London trailing 22-3 at the break.
The Irish did have a mini-revival after Michael Collins and Adrian Flavin replaced hooker David Paice and prop Rod Hardwick.
Flutey reduced the deficit by a further three points with a 45th minute penalty and also converted Rod Penney's try - London's only touchdown of the match - after some slick passing in midfield opened up a gap for the centre.
The fightback was stopped in its tracks though on 60 minutes when Jackson notched up another penalty.
Ten minutes from time Saracens wrapped up the tie following another mistake from an Irish lineout. Having been gifted a scrum, the home side's pack again drove London backwards and Skirving saw a weak spot to wheel away and barge through two defenders to the whitewash.
London were denied a consolation score through some hapless handling by full-back Delon Armitage, who fumbled the ball in his celebratory dive for the line.
Saracens now need to win at Wasps in December to secure their place in the knock-out stages of the competition.