Wasps 42 Saracens 8: Sackey leads rout of Saracens' rookies

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The Independent Online

A clinical second-half shredding of Saracens sent Wasps into today's Powergen Cup semi-final draw. It also took them a step nearer an automatic place in next season's Heineken Cup.

Paul Sackey headed the five-try hammering with two well-taken efforts that showed up a lack of experience in the Saracens side. But victory came at a price for Wasps. They lost the flanker Tom Rees with a shoulder injury midway through the first half. The promising No 7 had returned from an ankle injury just three matches ago.

Worse was to follow, when the prop Peter Bracken was carried off with a seriously gashed right knee in the final seconds of the first half. Bracken had to go to hospital and is a doubt for next week's Heineken Cup match against Llanelli Scarlets at Stradey Park. Rees should be fit.

Saracens, who fielded three regulars in their starting line-up - Alan Dickens, Mark Bartholomeusz and David Seymour - did not look outclassed for the first hour. Indeed, one or two of their rookies looked better than promising, at least until a four-try blitz in the final 14 minutes.

Adam Powell, who was pulled out of last Friday's England Under-19 match against Australian Schools at Gloucester (which was won by the tourists), looked very sharp in the centre. The stocky 18-year-old was also quick-witted, knocking over a first-half drop goal with little time or space available and putting in some judicious tactical kicks to slow Wasps' advances.

Steffon Armitage, the 20-year-old brother of London Irish's Delon, proved a real handful at close quarters as a ball-carrier, a ball-winner and as a stopper.

Oddly, the kicking duties were undertaken by Ben Russell, the full-back, even though the vastly more experienced Nicky Little was at fly-half. But since Russell had only two kicks at goal, missing both, it was not the most significant of decisions. And anyway, Wasps' top -drawer kicker Alex King found the greasy conditions awkward enough to miss a couple of kicks himself.

Wasps made their intent perfectly clear from the outset, when Lawrence Dallaglio launched a move after gathering a Paul Bailey clearance kick. Josh Lewsey was foiled but when he and Ayoola Erinle combined a minute or so later, George Skivington's close-range lunge earned his side their first try.

Saracens hit back through Bailey after the first of King's three penalties, but finished the half further behind through the boot of the Wasps fly-half.

Then, after the famine, the feast. The game had just eased past the hour when Lewsey and Dallaglio combined on the right to put Sackey in for his first try.

Lewsey then pounced on a sloppy long pass by Tevita Vaikona behind his own line for try No 3, before setting up Sackey for his second after a break by the scrum-half Eoin Reddan, who then wrapped it all up with a try of his own a few minutes later.

Wasps: Tries Skivington, Sackey 2, Lewsey, Reddan; Conversions King 4; Penalties King 3. Saracens: Try Bailey; Drop goal Powell.

Wasps: J Lewsey; P Sackey, A Erinle, S Abbott (M van Gisbergen, 68), T Voyce (R Hoadley, 60); A King, E Reddan; T Payne, J Barrett, P Bracken (J Dawson, 40), S Shaw, G Skivington, J Hart (M Lock, 40), T Rees (J O'Connor, 26; R Webber, 71), L Dallaglio (capt).

Saracens: B Russell; N Obi (T Vaikona, 65), M Bartholomeusz (W O'Driscoll, 60), A Powell, P Bailey; N Little, A Dickens (J Bedford, 76); A Liffchak (H Mitchell, 65), A Kyriacou (S Byrne, 73), B Broster, K Chesney (capt), T Ryder, E Amapakabo (H Vyvyan, 73), D Seymour (B Skirving, 73), S Armitage.

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).