Inspired Luger spearheads Saracens' charge to the top

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A hat-trick by the England wing Dan Luger helped Saracens to the top of the Premiership in an eight-try romp against Rotherham at a drenched Vicarage Road.

A hat-trick by the England wing Dan Luger helped Saracens to the top of the Premiership in an eight-try romp against Rotherham at a drenched Vicarage Road.

Saracens knew they had to score four tries in order to take over from Leicester at the top and had three of them inside half an hour, but Rotherham's defence proved increasingly awkward to break down and the conditions did not help; the ball often slipped out of over-eager hands and players slithered as they attempted to run trickier angles.

Despite the severity of the scoreline, Rotherham's courageous cover promises harder times ahead for lesser sides.

It was not until Luger's seven-minute burst early in the second half that the Yorkshiremen buckled and eventually conceded their first half century in the top flight. Until now no one has managed to overwhelm Rotherham.

But however laudable their defence was, they offered little in attack. Jim Naylor and Andy Northey were not given a great deal of opportunity to test the home guard. Too often the ball would get as far as Mike Umaga at fly-half then disappear under the Saracen hordes.

Umaga scored his team's solitary try, a steal given the way the Saracens players appeared to part like the Red Sea and present the Samoan with a safe passage to the line. Unfortunately though, he was unable to add the conversion.

Thereafter Saracens hammered away at their opponents. Thomas Castaignÿde contrived to miss three conversions yet still finished with 29 points, a total which included two tries; he has now amassed 111 in the Premiership this season.

Saracens were niggardly with their infringing. There was just one kickable penalty in the whole game, and Rotherham eschewed that chance, opting instead to kick for the line-out, from which Saracens cleared their lines.

Luger's work rate was praised afterwards by coach François Pienaar and he deserved it. The left-winger's first try was scored from the right wing, his second saw him taking the ball on another 40 metres after Kris Chesney's initial burst down the touchline had opened things up.

The third try saw Saracens, by now overflowing with confidence, run the ball some 90 metres from deep in their own half, Castaignÿde starting things, centre Ben Johnston maintain the impetus and Luger eluding what was left of the cover to complete the try treble and ensure £1,500 went to three rugby-related charities for the third time this season.

Saracens had opened their account through the flanker Richard Hill, Castaignÿde had then won the chase to Duncan McRae's kick and captain Kyran Bracken thrust through for the third. But his match was curtailed when he hobbled off with a calf injury shortly before Luger blazed his trail of destruction. Bracken later insisted his departure was merely precautionary and that there was no long-term problem. The same is to be hoped for Rotherham.

Saracens: Tries Hill, Castaignÿde 2, Bracken, Luger 3, Wallace; Conversions Castaignÿde 5; Penalties Castaignÿde 3. Rotherham: Try Umaga.

Saracens: T Castaignÿde; D O'Mahony, B Johnston (G Arasa, 68), K Sorrell, D Luger; D McRae, K Bracken (capt; N Walshe, 47); D Flatman (S Phillips, 75), R Russell, P Wallace, B Davison, D Grewcock, R Hill, T Diprose, K Chesney.

Rotherham: P Greaves; S Dixon (J Shepherd, 62), J Naylor, A Northey, M Dawson; M Umaga, C Harrison (D Scully, 62); J Thorp (S Bunting, 65), T Garnett (C Johnson, 58), A Olver (S Turner, 25-41 and 65), H Parr (D Cook, 58), L Greef, I Feaunati, M Schmid (capt; R Earnshaw, 58), N Spence.

Referee: S Leyshon (Bristol).