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

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada