Venter buttons lip after Small's big blunder

London Irish 33 Saracens 16
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The Independent Online

The last time Saracens were at Twickenham, Brendan Venter's outspoken views on referees had got him banned, among other things, from watching his team heartbreakingly edged out of the play-off final by Leicester. The rugby director was at HQ on Saturday, but the outcome was the same – bitter disappointment – and he had to bite his lip after seeing the referee Andrew Small easing Irish to a five-point win with a ludicrous blunder early in the second half.

With Saracens 10-6 ahead, Small sin-binned fly-half Alex Goode and awarded a penalty in front of the posts when the accidental offside offence merited no more than an Irish scrum. Saracens shipped 15 points during Goode's absence and the game was changed. Small also buried Saracens under a blizzard of penalties, 18 versus nine against Irish.

Venter kept his emotions in check, saying: "The last time I came here it cost me money, so I dare not say what's on my mind, I'll only get into trouble again. But there is no question the loss of Alex at that time influenced the outcome immensely."

London Irish: Tries Armitage, Tagicakibau, penalty try, Ojo; Conversions Lamb 2; Penalties Lamb 3. Saracens: Tries Joubert, Brits; Penalties Hougaard 2.

London Irish D Armitage; T Ojo, E Seveali'i (Malone, 72), D Bowden (Mapusua, 63), S Tagicakibau (Joseph, 59); R Lamb, P Hodgson; C Dermody (capt), D Paice (J Buckland, 46), F Rautenbach (A Corbisiero, 46), K Roche (N Kennedy, 63), B Casey (M Garvey, 70), D Danahar, G Stowers, S Armitage.

Saracens C Wyles; N Cato (D Hougaard, 55), A Powell (K Ratuvou, 54), B Barritt, M Tagicakibau; A Goode (K Barrett, 69), R Wigglesworth; R Gill (D Carstens, 53), S Brits (E Reynecke, 76), C Nieto (P du Plessis, 69), H Vyvyan, M Botha (G Kruis, 54), K Brown (J Melck, 72), E Joubert (capt), JBurger.

Referee A Small (RFU).

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