England must hope to benefit from a little of Saracens' style

Saracens 31 Ospreys 26

Wembley

Andrew Farrell, the Saracens first-team coach who is soon to be seconded to England for the two months of the Six Nations Championship, let it be known the other day that he would not transplant his club's back-play to the national team. What the Wiganer meant was that England would instigate their own plan of attack, framed by Farrell in conjunction with the interim boss Stuart Lancaster; but such was Saracens' style in this valuable Heineken Cup pool win that a little of it rubbing off on the red rose would not go amiss.

Intriguingly, the man at the heart of Sarries' dashing use of the wide channels was Charlie Hodgson, the former Sale fly-half long since considered only an emergency back-up by his country. When Hodgson went off in the second half it left Farrell's son, Owen, in the pivotal position. The 20-year-old is a hot tip for England selection and he kicks the ball a mile but his range of passing and vision is not yet the equal of Hodgson.

Farrell junior also assisted Ospreys in earning a precious bonus point by going to the sin-bin in the 49th minute for a body-check on Dan Biggar. The score was 28-16 to Sarries at the time; in Farrell's absence Ospreys' full-back Richard Fussell made a second try for the 21-year-old centre Ashley Beck and reduce the gap to five points, which was how it finished.

"You feel like you've let your team-mates down when there's one less player on the pitch in such a big game," said Farrell, who started at outside centre. "We played our best rugby of the year in the first 50 minutes. Our scrums and driving mauls kept us on the front foot and we were happy to play off that." Of his father's appointment, he said diplomatically: "It's a massive achievement for him and I hope he does really well."

The pick of Saracens' three tries was Chris Wyles's five minutes into the second half. From a line-out catch on the Ospreys 22, Hodgson's maintenance of a high tempo ended with Schalk Brits's sumptuous inside pass to Wyles. It will be a searching test of Saracens' squad strength to gain the points they need to qualify for the quarter-finals from trips to Swansea on Friday night and Treviso in January, either side of a home match with Biarritz, while continuing to challenge in the Premiership.

Still in these exciting times on the field they cannot resist a grumble.The Wembley attendance on Saturday was 6,000 higher than the day's other five Heineken Cup matches put together. But the Saracens chairman, Nigel Wray, wrote in his programme notes that "there are not enough people watching the game at the club level to make it economic". Wray argued that Premiership Rugby (the 12 top-flight clubs) should employ the referees directly to improve their performance and attract supporters, which is either an inevitable next step in the development of the professional game or the biggest clutching at straws since the invention of the milk shake.

Scorers: Saracens - Tries: Gill, Wyles, Joubert; Conversions: Farrell 2; Penalties:: Farrell 4. Ospreys - Tries:: Beck 2; Conversions:: Biggar 2; Penalties: Biggar 4.

Saracens: A Goode; D Strettle, O Farrell, B Barritt, C Wyles; C Hodgson (J Short 58), B Spencer (P Stringer 58); R Gill (D Carstens 73, M Stevens 80), S Brits (J George 48), M Stevens (C Nieto 65), S Borthwick (capt), M Botha (G Kruis 58), K Brown, J Burger (A Saull 65), E Joubert.

Ospreys: R Fussell; T Bowe, A Bishop, A Beck, S Williams; D Biggar, R Webb; D Jones (R Bevington 46), R Hibbard (H Bennett 46), A Jones, R Jones, J Thomas, T Smith (capt, I Gough 52), J Tipuric, J Bearman (G Stowers 56).

Referee: P Gaüzère (France).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created