Saracens 17 Scarlets 26: Farrell Jnr makes debut but Scarlets take control for victory

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The Independent Online

It might have been men against boys in this EDF Energy Cup tie, but Llanelli, or Scarlets as they now style themselves, certainly headed home knowing they had been in a game.

In fact Eddie Jones, the Saracens director of rugby, actually felt his mix of the ancient and the modern could and should have won.

"We are very disappointed," said Australian Jones afterwards. "We should have won, and won well."

They certainly did not lose badly. There was a little bit of history at least for Saracens to savour. When Owen Farrell trotted on to the pitch at 4.20pm, the son of rugby league legend Andy became the youngest English player at 17 years 11 days to play in a senior competitive match, beating the previous holder of the mark, Wasps' Danny Cipriani, by 25 days.

And Farrell Jnr did not look out of place. "Owen is a member of this group of young kids we have coming through. He is very mature. He just gets on with it. He has a serious attitude and he is desperate to make it," said Jones. "He's got a long way to go, but he definitely has the right attitude"

Farrell certainly showed a couple of deft touches, neat, but unorthodox passes which opened up clear channels for the receiver, and he also made a couple of decent tackles.

His father, who had been watching from the stands nursing a dislocated thumb, said afterwards: "It's homework for him tonight. School tomorrow."

There were other youngsters on show who also made an impact, not least Brighton-born Noah Cato, whose father Glen Wilson played football for Brighton & Hove Albion.

Cato is only 20, but at almost 6ft and topping 15 stone he proved a hell of a handful for Nathan Brew, who had the misfortune to be opposite him.

Cato, sound in defence, was exhilarating to watch in attack. He rounded Brew and Co at will, and when he decided to chip the advancing defenders the ball was always his.

His try was the product of the most perfect of passes from another impressive 20-year-old Alex Goode, the Saracens inside centre, who, until he was replaced by Farrell in the 67th minute, made a huge impression in the Saracens midfield.

Up front the 22-year-old blindside flanker Don Barrell had a massive game, his work-rate was immense, and on the other side of the back row Andy Saull also threw himself into the job.

As for Scarlets, who are third in the League, they were two regulars short of a full-strength side, and boasted 13 internationals in their starting line-up.

They took an early lead when Aussie No8 David Lyons dropped on the ball after a five metre scrum had been shoved over the home line. Stephen Jones converted that try and another close range effort by former All Black Kees Meeuws early in the second half, and added four penalties as the Saracens' error count mounted and Scarlets' points added up on the board for victory.

Saracens: Tries Leonelli, Cato; Conversions Ross 2; Penalty Ross. Scarlets: Tries Lyons, Meeuws; Conversions S Jones 2; Penalties S Jones 4.

Saracens: D Scarborough; E Thrower (R Penney, 69), F Leonelli, A Goode (O Farrell, 67), N Cato; G Ross, M Rauluni (capt) (M Wilson, 80); N Lloyd, M Cairns (A Walker, 80), T Mercey (C Visagie, 54), K Chesney, H Spencer (H Smith, 62), D Barrell, A Saull (J Wray, 60), B Skirving.

Scarlets: C Thomas; M Jones, R King, G Evans, N Brew; S Jones, M Roberts (S Martens, 80); I Thomas (P John, 79), M Rees (K Owens, 80), K Meeuws, V Cooper (S MacLeod, 71), S Maling, S Easterby (capt), G Thomas, D Lyons.

Referee: J Jones (Wales).

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