Saracens' broadside leaves Bristol with sinking feeling

Saracens 37 Bristol 13

Bristol are looking ever more like relegation candidates. A raft of players have yet to renew their contracts and the coach, Richard Hill, says much will depend on whether they are still in the Premiership next season. After this comprehensive defeat that is unlikely.

They were outclassed, yet again this season, by a distance and the five-year tenure of Hill is also looking tenuous.

However, Hill, whose name is being linked to jobs in France as well as with the vacancy at Leicester, should not have to shoulder all the blame. Injuries, and the smallest playing budget in the Premiership, have limited his choice of personnel and after Scott Linklater left the field with a pulled calf, Hill's choice became even more limited. David Blaney is the club's only fit hooker because Mark Regan is also out with a calf injury.

There now follows a four-week window in the Premiership, but Bristol's first match after the break is against relegation rivals Newcastle, a match which Hill thinks will be too soon to bring back Regan and Linklater. "We have to win that match," he said. "The pressure is on us. And even with my optimistic hat on it is not looking good."

It is sad to see the one-time giants of West Country rugby floundering. Their kicking was dire and, although the forwards competed manfully at the set piece and rattled their opponents on occasion, any ball won up front was invariably woefully wasted by the backs. If Saracens had been more clinical and a fraction more accurate, then there could well have been an avalanche of points. As it was, they still did enough to haul themselves into sixth place and the bonus point eased them a little further away from seventh-placed Harlequins, who have a game in hand.

Steve Borthwick, who captained England throughout the autumn internationals and is expected to keep the role for a little longer, scored a vital try for Saracens just three days before Martin Johnson names England's Six Nations' squad. Linklater was sent to the sin bin, Saracens went for the line-out and Borthwick was driven over.

Saracens had controlled the game from the start with some superb kicking out of hand by both half-backs, Neil de Kock and Glen Jackson, who kicked six out of six goal-kicks.

Bristol were pulled this way and that until Saracens struck. First Jackson fed the prop Matias Aguero from close range, then a great break by the open side Andy Saull scattered the Bristol cover like confetti and the impressive inside centre Brad Barritt, making his first start, cruised over. Ben Skirving was driven over for No3 in the second half and then came Borthwick's effort. Bristol managed a try of their own through Linklater and Ed Barnes thumped over a couple of penalties, but there was only ever one side in this match and it wasn't Bristol.

Saracens: Tries Aguero, Barritt, Skirving, Borthwick; Conversions Jackson 3, Ross; Penalties Jackson 3. Bristol: Try Linklater; Conversion Barnes; Penalties Barnes 2.

Saracens: C Lyles; R Haughton (R Penney, 73), K Sorrell, B Barritt, N Cato; G Jackson (G Ross, 78), N de Kock (M Rauluni, 60); M Aguero (N Lloyd, 63), F Ongaro (A Kyriacou, 57), C Johnston (C Visagie, 71), S Borthwick (capt), C Jack (H Vyvyan, 70), W van Heerden, A Saull, B Skirving.

Bristol: V Lilo; M Turner, Neil Brew, E Barnes (L Eves, 80+2), Nathan Brew (L Robinson, 63); A Jarvis, S Perry (G Beveridge, 80+2); M Irish, S Linklater (D Blaney, 24), D Crompton (W Thompson, 71), N Budgett (R Winters, 65), R Sidoli, M Salter (capt; J Phillips, 71), A To'oala, D Ward-Smith.

Referee: M Fox (Leicestershire).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
Sport
Lewis Hamilton with the Santander trophy after winning last year’s British Grand Prix
F1It's the race organisers who are to blame, apparently
News
peopleFormer Disney CEO isn't going to win any fans with this quote
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

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test