Leeds 28 Saracens 46: Old boys return to haunt Leeds as Saracens cruise

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The Independent Online

A trio of Leeds old-boys helped Saracens to kick off their EDF Energy Cup campaign with another comfortable victory at Headingley Carnegie.

Gordon Ross, Craig McMullen and Alan Dickens each played his own part in putting their erstwhile employers to the sword for the second time this season.

Saracens outscored Leeds by six tries to four but, in truth, staving off the threat of relegation is all that matters this season at Headingley for Stuart Lancaster and his players.

"There are lots of positives to take from it," said Lancaster, whose side's four-try haul earned them a bonus point.

"I thought lots of our play was good and at the level that it needs to be. But obviously we cannot keep gifting soft scores away as at this level you will get hurt."

The Yorkshiremen largely matched Sarries in the first half and only trailed by five points at the break.

Leeds fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo kicked his side ahead with a third-minute penalty which was soon cancelled out by a three-pointer from Ross, and, in the 18th minute, the Saracens centre Rod Penney scuttled under the posts.

Ross converted, but Leeds produced their best move of the game shortly before the half-hour when a bewildering array of inter-passing culminated in Erik Lund crossing. Di Bernardo failed to convert from near the touchline and another Ross penalty edged Sarries 13-8 ahead at the break.

In the second half, the visitors produced a masterclass in clinical finishing to run in five tries. After Di Bernardo struck a 43rd-minute penalty, McMullen scampered over the line and Penney claimed his second soon after.

Although the prop Mike McDonald barged his way over for Leeds in the 57th minute, two tries in four minutes from Edd Thrower and replacement Moses Raulini further exposed Leeds' defensive flaws.

The spirited hosts hit back through an exhilarating effort from debutant Satala, but Saracens replied with a late, sixth try from Kevin Sorrell which Ross converted.

Despite his side's convincing victory, the Saracens director of rugby Alan Gaffney was not happy with his side's defending. "We've come up here and scored six tries but our defence was just not acceptable," he said. "Full credit to Leeds because they really kept going."

Leeds: Tries Lund, MacDonald, Armstrong, Satala; Conversion Di Bernardo; Penalties Di Bernardo 2. Saracens: Tries Penney 2, McMullen, Thrower, Rauluni, Sorrell; Conversions Ross 5; Penalties Ross 2.

Leeds: J Goodridge; L Hinton (Armstrong, 68), T Rock, A Tuilagi (Blackett, 62), A Sataoa; A Di Bernardo, J Brooks (Edwards, 55); M MacDonald, J Parkes (Ma'asi, 54), F Pala'amo (Hopcroft, 49), E Lund (Bouza, 65), K Myall, D Paul, C Clark (Stitcher, 65), R Oakley (capt).

Saracens: R Haughton; D van der Merwe, R Penney (Sorrell, 55), C McMullen, E Thrower (Cato, 75); G Ross, A Dickens capt; Rauluni, 57); N Lloyd, F Ongaro (Kyriacou, 57), T Mercey (Liffchak, 70), K Chesney, T Ryder, P Gustard (Barrell, 39), D Seymour, G Hall.

Referee: M Changleng (Scotland).