Saracens roll on to eighth straight win

Saracens 22 Wasps 6
Click to follow
The Independent Online

There is just no stopping these Saracens, who beat the world champions South Africa last Tuesday, then the former English and European champions yesterday to complete their eighth Guinness Premiership victory in a row and march six points clear at the top of the table.

Once again, though, the fare on offer was a long way below the level required to raise pulses on a cold, wet and windy afternoon at Vicarage Road. Yet you cannot knock a club who were apparently in a state of mild chaos during the off-season with so many comings and goings, yet now boast a 100-per-cent winning record in the league and two 40,000-plus crowds at Wembley Stadium.

It was hard not to feel some sympathy for Wasps – deprived of England trio Tim Payne, Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley, whose season hangs in the balance after suffering knee ligament damage at Twickenham on Saturday.

However, you cannot compete at this level without a scrum, and the Wasps unit was more like a wobbling jelly which, in turn, provided Saracens with a glut of penalties.

Derick Hougaard missed nearly as many as he landed, but still racked up 17 points compared with just two goals from David Walder.

The game's only try, scored by the outstanding hooker Schalk Brits after 12 minutes, came as a result of a rampaging maul which Wasps simply could not contain. With Carlos Nieto twisting and tormenting their scrum while buffing his nails, it bordered on the embarrassing.

Saracens' director of rugby, Brendan Venter, said: "We played really well. After what happened on Tuesday, they still managed to produce that performance on a bitterly cold day.

"Winning is becoming a bit of a drug. We won't win every game, that's the nature of rugby. But we are very difficult to beat and our lineout and scrum were magnificent."

Wasps' head coach, Tony Hanks, admitted his men were not good enough: "No excuses. We were not accurate enough on the day. It's all very well talking about who is missing on Test duty, but we had people out, and so did they. This group of Wasps players has been earning praise in recent weeks so it's about what we did in this 80 minutes.

"And we've won on wet pitches this season already, and there won't be many dry ones in the coming months. I am disappointed with this display, one from which we did not deserve a losing bonus point."

Saracens: Try Brits; Conversion Hougaard; Penalties Hougaard 3; Drop-goals Hougaard 2 Wasps: Penalties Walder 2.

Saracens: A Goode; N Cato (R Penney 50), K Ratuvou, B Barritt (A Powell 62), M Tagicakibau; D Hougaard, K Barrett (J Marshall 50); R Gill (C Lealamanua 76), S Brits (E Reynecke 71), C Nieto (R Skuse 50), H Vyvyan, T Ryder (M Botha 50), W Van Heerden (capt) (D Barrell 72), E Joubert, A Saull.

Wasps: M Van Gisbergen (L Mitchell 61); P Sackey, B Jacobs, D Waldouck, T Varndell; D Walder, J Simpson; G Bocca (R Webber 52), J Ward C Beech 52), B Broster (B Baker, 29), G Skivington (M Veale 70), R Birkett, J Hart (D Leo 74), S Betsen (capt), D Ward-Smith.

Referee: D Richards (Berkshire).