Frustrated Sarries squeak past Cardiff
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Two-time former champions Saracens maintained their 100 percent record and cemented top spot in Pool Three.
However, they were left frustrated with the 26-14 win over Cardiff Blues at Arms Park on Saturday.
Despite trailing 13-14 at the half-time break, the English club kept their opponents scoreless in the second half to take control of the pool.
“I thought we came out second half and took it them a little bit more,” flyhalf Owen Farrell said in his post-match reaction.
“[In the] first half we were too nice and didn’t care.
“Cardiff has been a tough team these past two weeks and credit to them but we’ll be frustrated for not putting a complete performance together.
“Credit to the forwards there, they put in a big shift.
“We’re not saying it’s not tough to come here to win, they’re a top, top team, but in terms of how we’ve performed, the first half wasn’t good enough.”
It was Saracens that got off to the better start, with Scotland international Sean Maitland finishing excellently in the corner. Owen Farrell converted the wing’s effort.
A successful penalty kick from Owen Farrell extended their advantage’, but Cardiff hit back through a well-worked move off the scum – with centre Rey Lee-Lo crossing over. Anscombe added the extras to further reduce the deficit.
Farrell stretched Saracens’ lead with a penalty once more, but it was Cardiff that went into the break ahead.
A chip in behind Saracens’ defence from flyhalf Anscombe was collected by Garyn Smith, who put in fullback Dan Fish for a simple finish to give the Blues a 14-13 lead at half-time.
Farrell scored two penalties to put the English side back ahead after the break, but when lock Will Skelton was sent to the bin, Cardiff sniffed an upset in front of a home crowd.
However, Saracens used all their experience to hold off the Blues and Jamie George ensured they travelled back to London with their unbeaten record in tact, scoring a try from a line-out.
Cardiff travel to Scotstoun Stadium in Round Five to face Glasgow Warriors, while Saracens head to Lyon on Sunday, January 13.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Lee-Lo, Fish
Cons: Anscombe 2
Tries: Maitland, George
Pens: Farrell 4
Yellow card: Will Skelton (Saracens, 62)
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Garyn Smith, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Josh Turnbull (captain), 4 Seb Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 George Earle, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Dom Day, 20 Nick Isiekwe, 21 Calum Clark, 22 Richard Wigglesworth, 23 Alex Lozowski.
Referee: Jérome Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Ludovic Cayre (France), Jonathan Dufort (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)