Sarries sting Italians
Amazing second half comeback from Saracens gives them unlikely victory.
Last Updated: 15/12/07 4:49pm
Robertson: Viadana try scorer
Saracens needed a stirring second half fightback to avoid a shock Heineken Cup defeat in Viadana as they overhauled a 23-point half-time deficit to win 34-26.
Sarries travelled to Italy on the back of a crushing 71-7 win last week, but the home side made ten changes to their team for the return match in Pool 4.
The changes obviously worked as Jacobs Erasmus scored the opening try for Viadana after just three minutes as they dominated the first half.
Erasmus grabbed a second try on the half hour and further scores from Steven Bortolussi and Kaine Robertson saw Viadana run in four tries to lead 26-3 at the break.
The Guinness Premiership side needed a huge effort to dig their way out of trouble, and they achieved that with 31 unanswered points in the second period that saw them get out of jail.
Glen Jackson led the fightback with 19 points, while tries from David Seymour, Richard Haughton and a penalty try gave Saracens a victory that scarcely looked possible at the interval.
The Italian minnows where fired up from the start and came flying out of the traps, breaching the Sarries defence after just three minutes when Erasmus went over in the corner.
It got worse for Saracens a minute later when, from the restart, they lost hooker Matt Cairns with an arm injury to be replaced by Fabio Ongaro.
Ben Skirving almost replied with a try for the visitors but he was just denied on the line by some desperate defence from Viadana.
Erasmus went over for his second of the afternoon on 29 minutes when he picked off a floated pass inside the Saracens 22 to score under the posts, and Calvin Howarth this time converted.
Glen Jackson reduced the deficit with a penalty midway through the half, but Saracens were struggle to keep pace with Viadana's explosive style.
Saracens gave away ten turnovers during the first half alone as Viadana pressured, and one of them led to Viadan's third try of the day.
Prop Ignacio Rouyet burst through and set up full-back Bortolussi to score under the posts, and Howarth again added the extras.
Moments before half time Viadana amazingly bagged a fourth try when Robertson took advantage of a break from Samuele Pace to cross in the corner.
With Howarth's conversion it sent Saracens in 23 points behind and staring at an embarrassing defeat.
Jackson added another three points straight from the restart as the visitors looked to get their fightback underway.
The forwards then earned a try after forcing the home side into three penalties from a five-metre scrum. Referee Peter Fitzgibbon went under the posts for a penalty try, which was converted by Jackson.
Another penalty soon afterwards brought Saracens to within 10 points and the comeback was on.
Viadana flanker Sole entered the sin bin, enabling Jackson to kick Saracens within just a converted try of the Italians.
Seymour touched down on the hour for another try, and Jackson's conversion levelled the scores.
Jackson kicked his side into the lead for the first time in the match with seven minutes to go and when Haughton ran in a try in the final minutes capped a remarkable comeback.