Saracens 26 Wasps 15: Hill's try signals winning return

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The Independent Online

England flanker Richard Hill made a winning - and scoring - return to top-flight rugby with Saracens at a rain-soaked Vicarage Road last night.

Victory did not send Saracens through to the semi-finals of the EDF Energy Cup, but at least they showed that they had recovered from the shock of losing at home five days earlier to Premiership basement boys Worcester.

Hill showed that he had made a full recovery from knee reconstruction surgery, which had sidelined him for a year and a half after he was injured in the first Lions test in New Zealand in June 2005.

His try came early in the second half, just after Saracens had nosed in front with a 42nd-minute touchdown by flanker Ben Russell.

The home side attacked again immediately and had Wasps on the back foot.

A brilliant break by Thomas Castaignède opened up Wasps, and the Frenchman found centre Rodd Penney before Hill, who had ambled up into a perfect position, called for the ball and thundered over under the posts. He was mobbed by his joyous team-mates who dived on him before he could get to his feet.

Of the try, a typically modest Hill said: "It was a good team try. I had the easy bit of getting on the end of it."

Castaignède, who had converted Russell's try, again did the honours and thanks to his first-half penalties and a 56th-minute drop goal, Saracens had opened up a decent lead.

Earlier, Wasps had nosed ahead when Tom Voyce showed his usual clinical finishing after Danny Cipriani had gathered an attempted clearance kick by Saracens fullback Tomas de Vedia, and the Wasps left-wing skated around the outside for his second try in this tournament.

A second try, this time for hooker Joe Ward, followed, but crucially neither had been converted by Dave Walder, and he missed a third attempt when Voyce touched down in the corner on the hour for his second try of the night.

But the magic boot of Castaignède ensured that Wasps would be kept at bay when he landed a third penalty to make it six out of six successful kicks at goal.

Saracens Tries Russell, Hill; Conversions Castaignède 2; Penalties Castaignède 3; Castaignède DG.

Wasps Tries Voyce 2, Ward.

Saracens: T de Vedia (N Cato, 80+2); T Vaikona, R Penney, A Powell (D Harris, 80+2), R Haughton; T Castaignède, A Dickens; N Lloyd, M Cairns, T Mercey, T Ryder (K Chesney, 64), I Fullarton, B Russell (T Audley, 80+2), R Hill, P Gustard (capt).

Wasps: D Cipriani; E Thrower, R Hoadley, D Waldouck, T Voyce (M van Gisbergen, 74); D Walder (J Staunton, 74), E Reddan (M McMillan, 52); T Payne (N Adams, 67), J Ward (R Webber, 59), T French (N Adams, h-t-67), M Purdy, R Birkett (M Corker, h-t), G Skivington, T Rees (G Chamberlain, 74), J Hart (capt)

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).