Lacroix boots Saracens back to the top

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Thierry Lacroix booted Saracens back to the top of the table by grabbing all his side's points in the 27-26 defeat of Wasps.

Thierry Lacroix booted Saracens back to the top of the table by grabbing all his side's points in the 27-26 defeat of Wasps.

But even after the French fly-half's record-breaking performance - he kicked nine penalties - Saracens director of rugby Alan Zondagh admitted he was disappointed with his side's inability to put a try on the board.

Wasps outscored their hosts by three tries but the ice-cool Lacroix ensured maximum points.

"A win is a win but I'd have liked to have seen a try. That was not really the way I want to play but I'd rather win with penalties than drop goals," said South African Zondagh.

"The penalty count was high but that is not the fault of the players. The International Rugby Board must look at the rules because the situation at the moment is ruining the game.

"All you have to do is keep possession in your opponent's half and sooner or later you get a penalty. It was a problem in the World Cup and it will be a problem in the Premiership."

Two tries from Western Samoa hooker Trevor Leota and one from flanker Paul Volley should have given Wasps the upper hand.

But in a bad-tempered match - with England pair Danny Grewcock and Joe Worsley sin-binned - Lacroix was allowed to steal the limelight.

Wasps director of rugby Nigel Melville fumed at his side's indiscipline and the performance of referee Trevor Fisher.

"We weren't particularly happy with the number of penalties awarded," said Melville. "I don't think the referee had a particularly good game. There are certain things I want to discuss with him. I shall also look at the video."

He added: "The difference was Thierry. If it wasn't for him it would have been a totally different story."

South African centre Brendan Venter returns to London Irish today with coach Dick Best eager to welcome him back after a 17-16 defeat against Harlequins thanks to Chris Sheasby's last-gasp try.

Venter's ban for stamping during the World Cup has now ended and he will resume training with the Irish.

"A player of Venter's class does not come along too often and it is great that he will be back," said Best.

"He is a consummate professional - it will be like having another coach out on the field.

"Against Harlequins we did not have the killer instinct and we did not kill off the game. It is at times like this that a player like Brendan comes into his own."

However, Venter's contract still has to be finalised as the Irish have not agreed a deal on his length of stay.

"I am sure something can be worked out. It will probably be some kind of compromise but we will see how it works out," said Best.

"He has a very strong character and that helps lift the team around him and gives us an edge."

Stephen Bachop's pin-point pass sent in Conor O'Shea for the Exiles' only try, with Jarrod Cunningham's conversion and his third penalty giving Irish a 10-point cushion at one stage.

But Derek Liley, with four penalties in all, kept Quins in contention before Irish gave away a penalty on halfway in injury time.

Liley's wonderful kick to touch left Quins with a line-out just two yards from the Exiles' line. Sheasby caught the throw in and the pack bundled him over the line for a thrilling win.