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Saracens get a rugby lesson in France

CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Union Bordeaux-Bègles, led by halfback pair Maxime Lucu and Matéo Garcia, were exquisite as they defeated Saracens 45-12 in the Champions Cup Round of 16.

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The game was entirely dominated by the Top14 side, who have never won EPCR’s elite competition but have every hope of going all the way this year.

The Union Bordeaux-Bègles backline consistently tore the Saracens defence to shreds, the Premiership club’s own attack failing to materialise.

The first period, like the entire game, was completely dominated by the home side, but the French club had to wait until the half-hour mark to register their first points, a penalty from Lucu.

Much to the dissatisfaction of the home crowd, Union Bordeaux-Bègles had three tries ruled out, but when Saracens went down to 14 they eventually grabbed their opening try of the afternoon.

Saracens lock Maro Itoje was the perpetrator, having made a poor attempt to intercept the ball in the 35th minute, and soon after flyhalf Matéo Garcia went over in the corner. Lucu added the extras, and the French club deservedly led 10-0 at the break.

Saracens’ backline had struggled to get going in the first half, and it felt significant when flyhalf Alex Goode missed the London club’s first chance to register points, his penalty clattering against the post just after the restart.

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Having been on the edge of closing the gap, the three-time champions of EPCR’s elite competition soon found themselves even further adrift instead; about to be dragged into touch, Union Bordeaux-Begles No.8 Tevita Tatafu found a way to offload the ball, which then deflected off Saracens’ Ben Earl and bounced into the try-zone, where it was pounced upon by Garcia for his second score.

Lucu converted again, and he added another set of extras when the Union Bordeaux-Bègles backs once again tore apart the Saracens defence for the French club’s third score, centre Nicolas Depoortere diving underneath the posts.

A fourth converted try soon followed, wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey capitalising on a loose ball, with Depoortere adding a fifth, Garcia converting on this occasion after the magnificent Lucu had left the pitch to widespread applause.

Saracens would at least not go home point-less, wing Alex Lewington getting over, but Bielle-Biarrey became the hosts’ third brace-scorer of the night with their sixth converted try.

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A final flurry from the visitors saw replacement Tom Willis go over, Goode adding the extras with the final kick of the match.

But the day had belonged to Union Bordeaux-Bègles, who will now face Harlequins in a home quarterfinal next week.

The scorers:

For Bordeaux:
Tries: Garcia 2, Depoortere 2, Louis Bielle-Biarrey 2
Cons: Lucu 4, Garcia 2
Pen: Lucu

For Saracens:
Tries: Lewington, Willis
Con: Goode

Yellow card: Maro Itoje (Saracens, 35′ – deliberate knock-on)

Teams:

Bordeaux: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Nicolas Depoortere, 12 Yoram Moefana, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matéo Garcia, 9 Maxime Lucu (captain), 8 Tevita Tatafu, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Antoine Miquel, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Cyril Cazeaux, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Maxime Lamothe, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16 Romain Latterrade, 17 Lekso Kaulashvili, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Thomas Jolmes, 21 Guido Petti, 22 Yann Lesgourgues, 23 Pablo Uberti.

Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Theo McFarland, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jamie George (captain), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Olly Hartley.

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Andrew Cole (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

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