After a nervy start to the game, Saracens saw off Cardiff Blues 51-25 at Allianz Park to return to the top of Pool 3 of the Champions Cup.
The visitors led 18-13 at half-time after Sarries squandered several try-scoring opportunities, but were outdone by a rampant second-half performance from the London-based side, who picked up all five points.
Premiership leaders Saracens came into the match in fine form and wasted no time getting on the front foot. Brad Barritt’s offload to Alex Lozowski allowed the outside centre to set Richard Wigglesworth up for the first try of the game in the fourth minute.
However, the Blues refused to cave in, and seven minutes later, Blaine Scully scored near the right corner after the ball was worked out wide to him.
As the first quarter of the game neared its end, Matthew Morgan tipped the balance in Cardiff’s favour, catching Owen Farrell’s high kick and breezing through the Saracens defence with a fantastic solo run, which ended in a try.
Farrell and Gareth Anscombe spent the rest of the first-half exchanging penalties, with the kickers bagging two apiece before the break.
Saracens could count themselves somewhat unfortunate to head into half-time behind, having had two tries ruled out by TMO Denis Grenouillet. First, Mike Rhodes put a foot in touch before crossing the try-line 25 minutes into the game. Then, Lozowski saw a try disallowed eight minutes later due to a forward pass from Sean Maitland.
However, the hosts came flying out of the blocks in the second-half. Substitute Ben Earl forced Lewis Jones to spill the ball at the base of the ruck, putting Saracens on the attack. Ultimately, it was Earl who finished what he started, crossing the try-line in the left corner after receiving the decisive pass from Farrell.
Then, in the 47th minute, Earl doubled up, intercepting Anscombe’s pass and running all the way to put his side ahead.
Seven minutes later, Earl came agonisingly close to grounding for his hat-trick, but once again, Grenouillet ruled out the try, deciding that he had been forced into touch.
However, following an Olly Robinson yellow card after Cardiff Blues slowed the ball down illegally under pressure, Maitland all but sunk the Blues’ hopes with two quickfire tries in the right corner near the hour-mark.
In the 69th minute, Earl popped the ball to Ben Spencer from an attacking scrum, allowing the 26-year-old to crash over for Sarries’ sixth try.
After Chris Judge ran through a gap in the Cardiff defence to score their seventh, Farrell’s conversion brought up 50 points.
Robinson somewhat made amends for his yellow card by scoring a late consolation try, but the Blues were unable to secure a bonus point.
For Saracens:Tries: Wigglesworth, Earl 2, Maitland 2, Spencer, JudgeCons: Farrell 5Pens: Farrell 2
For Cardiff Blues:Tries: Scully, Morgan, RobinsonCons: Anscombe 2Pens: Anscombe 2Yellow Card: Robinson
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako VunipolaReplacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Dom Day, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Ben Spencer, 23 Nick Tompkins
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Harri Millard, 12 Jarrod Evans, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams (c), 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Seb Davies, 4 George Earle, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Gill Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Rory Thornton, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Garyn Smith
Referee: Romain Poite (France)Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Stéphane Boyer (France)Television match official: Denis Grenouillet (France)
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