Saracens beat Edinburgh 40-7 in last game at Vicarage Road to qualify for Heineken Cup quarter-finals

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If logo-encrusted pies, pizza delivered to the seat and on-call action replays represent the future at Allianz Park, Saracens' final act at Vicarage Road was one of decidedly minimal fuss.

The Men in Black brushed aside a hapless Edinburgh 40-7 on a snow-dusted pitch in Watford to finish top of Pool One and ensure qualification for the Heineken Cup knockout stages for just the third time in the club's history.

Sarries will face Ulster in the quarter-finals and five tries - two for Chris Ashton and one each for Matt Stevens, Charlie Hodgson and Chris Wyles - mean Mark McCall's side took home a bonus-point win to raise the possibilty of home advantage depending on the result of Toulouse's match against Leicester later.

Whatever the location of that match, Saracens will take further confidence from this display.

Like much of their Pool campaign, the Men in Black were clinical, cool under pressure - certainly not without fault - but crucially brilliant at dictating the flow of a rugby match.

McCall made just three changes to the side that defeated Racing Metro as Mako Vunipola, George Kruis and fly half Hodgson all came into the starting line-up with the in-form Owen Farrell shifting to outside centre.

After an astonishing display against Metro that saw him notch 11 out of 11 kicks from the tee, Farrell continued as he left off, effortlessly dispatching three efforts within the first 20 minutes to put Sarries 9-0 ahead.

Sarries were superior all over the pitch and in the 26th minute they were rewarded for their dominance as Brad Barritt's neat kick through saw Ashton carefully collect and put down for the first try of the match.

Farrell stepped up to convert his 15th kick in successive matches but the home crowd were surprised to see the ball clip the outside of the right post and come out.

Like an orchestra knocked off beat, Saracens temporarily lost their rhythm and three minutes later they gifted Edinburgh a lifeline as Richard Wigglesworth failed to deal with a cleared kick, allowing Greig Tonks the opportunity to hack the ball through and make it 14-5.

As Greig Laidlaw converted, the visitors grew in confidence before the break and it was arguably Sarries who were the happier to hear the sound of the half-time whistle.

After 14 consecutive kicks, Farrell made it two misses in a row minutes after the restart but the England number ten soon made amends when another penalty was awarded three minutes later.

Shaping up to kick for the posts, Farrell tapped the ball before instinctively launching a cross-field kick into the path of an expectant Ashton who, catching the Edinburgh defence napping, collected and ran over for Sarries' second try.

Farrell seemed to have lost his mojo from the tee as he missed the conversion, but Saracens' control had been reasserted and in the 52nd minute they took the game beyond the visitors as a driving maul saw Stevens put down for a third score.

With a fourth try, a bonus point and that possible home quarter-final in their sights, the match was still very much alive and Sarries kept their foot on the accelerator.

With ten minutes to play they thought they had it, as Hodgson's kick through looked to have been put down by Barritt but TMO penalised the inside centre for a double movement.

Five minutes later though, an expectant Vicarage Road crowd were handed the parting gift they were looking for. 

Patient build-up saw the ever-impressive Hodgson sell a delightful dummy pass before cruising through for the all-important fourth try which Farrell converted, and with the bonus-point sewn up, there was still time for one more party-piece as Wyles touched down for try number five.

With the last kick of the game Farrell struck home, firing a jubilant Saracens into the competition's quarter-finals.

As long as Toulouse don't beat Leicester with a bonus-point later today, the Men in Black will play Ulster at home - albeit at a location still to be decided by Sarries CEO Edward Griffiths.

Could that include Vicarage Road? "All options are being discussed," he said.

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles 14 Chris Ashton 13 Owen Farrell 12 Brad Barritt 11 David Strettle 10 Charlie Hodgson 9 Richard Wigglesworth 1 Mako Vunipola 2 Schalk Brits 3 Matt Stevens 4 Steve Borthwick (capt) 5 George Kruis 6 Kelly Brown 7 Will Fraser 8 Ernst Joubert

Replacements: 16 John Smit 17 Rhys Gill 18 Petrus du Plessis 19 Mouritz Botha 20 Nick Fenton-Wells 21 Neil de Kock 22 Joel Tomkins 23 Duncan Taylor

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks 14 Dougie Fife 13 Ben Cairns 12 Matt Scott 11 Tim Visser

 10 Greig Laidlaw (capt) 9 Richie Rees

 1 Robin Hislop 2 Steven Lawrie
 3 Willem Nel 4 Grant Gilchrist 5 Sean Cox 6 Stuart McInally 7 Dimitri Basilaia 8 Netani Talei

Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell 17 Alex Allan 18 Geoff Cross 19 David Denton 20 Roddy Grant 21 Piers Francis
 22 Ben Atiga 23 Lee Jones

Attendance: 5,673

 

 

 

Comments (13)

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3:40pm Sun 20 Jan 13

Holly68 says...

Good Bye and Good Luck ...
Good Bye and Good Luck ... Holly68
  • Score: 0

4:48pm Sun 20 Jan 13

Guy Bov says...

Shame Saracens could not forge a fruitful working relationship to develop the Vic and wish them well but won't miss them churning up the pitch
Shame Saracens could not forge a fruitful working relationship to develop the Vic and wish them well but won't miss them churning up the pitch Guy Bov
  • Score: 0

5:03pm Sun 20 Jan 13

Boosey says...

Miss the revenue but if we play to our full potential on a decent pitch they won't be missed but as one previous post has stated, good luck.
Miss the revenue but if we play to our full potential on a decent pitch they won't be missed but as one previous post has stated, good luck. Boosey
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Sun 20 Jan 13

Mohandas says...

I hate goodbyes especially when it's top class rugby on our doorstep. I'll still support you and best of luck in your new home and well done on your progression in the cup. The atmosphere is unbeatable so great too see supporters of all age groups mixing. So inclusive.
I hate goodbyes especially when it's top class rugby on our doorstep. I'll still support you and best of luck in your new home and well done on your progression in the cup. The atmosphere is unbeatable so great too see supporters of all age groups mixing. So inclusive. Mohandas
  • Score: 0

5:59pm Sun 20 Jan 13

Holly68 says...

They will run coaches from Watford to Mill Hill
They will run coaches from Watford to Mill Hill Holly68
  • Score: 0

6:01pm Sun 20 Jan 13

Andrew1963 says...

Guy Bov wrote:
Shame Saracens could not forge a fruitful working relationship to develop the Vic and wish them well but won't miss them churning up the pitch
Wettest autumn in a hundred years and the new pitch looks good - it is academic now but investment in the pitch shows you can use the one stadium for two codes. In the longer term Watford need to make Vicarage Road work harder as a capital asset. I only go to Saracens around christmas/new year if Watford are playing away, but it is a shame that they are moving away.
[quote][p][bold]Guy Bov[/bold] wrote: Shame Saracens could not forge a fruitful working relationship to develop the Vic and wish them well but won't miss them churning up the pitch[/p][/quote]Wettest autumn in a hundred years and the new pitch looks good - it is academic now but investment in the pitch shows you can use the one stadium for two codes. In the longer term Watford need to make Vicarage Road work harder as a capital asset. I only go to Saracens around christmas/new year if Watford are playing away, but it is a shame that they are moving away. Andrew1963
  • Score: 0

8:41pm Sun 20 Jan 13

D.unstable says...

Think that they would have been a lot more welcomed if they had contributed towards the stadium development and investment in the pitch. As it was as soon as a rent increase was mentioned they were on their way. I hope your stadium is ready on time. Looked like a temporary one sided job last time I see it, that's 2 less than you are used too.

Sorry a good riddance from me. If this was SCD it would be a 2.5
Think that they would have been a lot more welcomed if they had contributed towards the stadium development and investment in the pitch. As it was as soon as a rent increase was mentioned they were on their way. I hope your stadium is ready on time. Looked like a temporary one sided job last time I see it, that's 2 less than you are used too. Sorry a good riddance from me. If this was SCD it would be a 2.5 D.unstable
  • Score: 0

8:46pm Sun 20 Jan 13

the sniper says...

Good riddance!!!!
Good riddance!!!! the sniper
  • Score: 0

10:05am Mon 21 Jan 13

Watfordengineer says...

Andrew1963 wrote:
Guy Bov wrote:
Shame Saracens could not forge a fruitful working relationship to develop the Vic and wish them well but won't miss them churning up the pitch
Wettest autumn in a hundred years and the new pitch looks good - it is academic now but investment in the pitch shows you can use the one stadium for two codes. In the longer term Watford need to make Vicarage Road work harder as a capital asset. I only go to Saracens around christmas/new year if Watford are playing away, but it is a shame that they are moving away.
Totally agree. if only the Watford management had spent some of the saracens money on improving the pitch earlier before the fans riled against the deal then maybe watford could have kept Premiership rugby at the Vic. I think the town is loosing a great asset.
I blame Baz.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew1963[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Guy Bov[/bold] wrote: Shame Saracens could not forge a fruitful working relationship to develop the Vic and wish them well but won't miss them churning up the pitch[/p][/quote]Wettest autumn in a hundred years and the new pitch looks good - it is academic now but investment in the pitch shows you can use the one stadium for two codes. In the longer term Watford need to make Vicarage Road work harder as a capital asset. I only go to Saracens around christmas/new year if Watford are playing away, but it is a shame that they are moving away.[/p][/quote]Totally agree. if only the Watford management had spent some of the saracens money on improving the pitch earlier before the fans riled against the deal then maybe watford could have kept Premiership rugby at the Vic. I think the town is loosing a great asset. I blame Baz. Watfordengineer
  • Score: 0

10:11am Mon 21 Jan 13

Poppet Bear says...

Gone.......at last !!!
Now for a lovely new East Stand and Prem footy. Sometimes dreams come true.
Gone.......at last !!! Now for a lovely new East Stand and Prem footy. Sometimes dreams come true. Poppet Bear
  • Score: 0

12:34pm Mon 21 Jan 13

DannyMan says...

The effect of rugby on the pitch at VR has been greatly exaggerated over the years by those who just want to hate for the sake of it. In any case, Sarries paid for a new pitch when they moved in, and half-a-million quid each year, every year, since then would've bought a lot more pitches if Watford FC hadn't simply squandered it in their inimitable way.
BTW, the new stadium has all four sides in place thank you, and has already hosted its first test game (another next Sunday).
And yes, of course Sarries are spending £20M on a new stadium simply because WFC asked for a rent rise. Duh!
The people I feel sorry for are the owners and staff of the eateries and drinkeries of Watford. Sarries' attendances may have been declining over recent years but they're still a lot better than nothing, and the bars and restaurants have still had lots of Sarries supporters in them on match days. And I've been told many times over the years by staff in these places how much they like rugby match days, and how much they hate football days.
Well no more. Watford never embraced Saracens and now they've gone, to the great detriment of the town, its economy, and its only chance of ever again being home to the premiership champions.
Your loss. Still, the haters are happy now.
The effect of rugby on the pitch at VR has been greatly exaggerated over the years by those who just want to hate for the sake of it. In any case, Sarries paid for a new pitch when they moved in, and half-a-million quid each year, every year, since then would've bought a lot more pitches if Watford FC hadn't simply squandered it in their inimitable way. BTW, the new stadium has all four sides in place thank you, and has already hosted its first test game (another next Sunday). And yes, of course Sarries are spending £20M on a new stadium simply because WFC asked for a rent rise. Duh! The people I feel sorry for are the owners and staff of the eateries and drinkeries of Watford. Sarries' attendances may have been declining over recent years but they're still a lot better than nothing, and the bars and restaurants have still had lots of Sarries supporters in them on match days. And I've been told many times over the years by staff in these places how much they like rugby match days, and how much they hate football days. Well no more. Watford never embraced Saracens and now they've gone, to the great detriment of the town, its economy, and its only chance of ever again being home to the premiership champions. Your loss. Still, the haters are happy now. DannyMan
  • Score: 0

4:59pm Mon 21 Jan 13

Robert Peel says...

Wow, 5,673 - better hope the new stadium can hold up to 8,000 for those really big games.

So Saracens continue their wanderings around the top half of the M25 looking for people interested in them. Bye.

Not sure what else Watford should have done to "embrace" them Watfordengineer.
Wow, 5,673 - better hope the new stadium can hold up to 8,000 for those really big games. So Saracens continue their wanderings around the top half of the M25 looking for people interested in them. Bye. Not sure what else Watford should have done to "embrace" them Watfordengineer. Robert Peel
  • Score: 0

5:20pm Mon 21 Jan 13

DannyMan says...

Ah, bang on time, a happy hater who would rather WFC loses £0.5M income a year, and Watford town centre loses out on 5,000-15,000 rugby supporters maybe 20 times a year (yes, there were 15,000 at a game just last month). Still, so long as you haven't got rugby players polluting your manky decrepit bomb-hole of a "stadium", who cares about your missing east stand, or the local economy, huh?
Ah, bang on time, a happy hater who would rather WFC loses £0.5M income a year, and Watford town centre loses out on 5,000-15,000 rugby supporters maybe 20 times a year (yes, there were 15,000 at a game just last month). Still, so long as you haven't got rugby players polluting your manky decrepit bomb-hole of a "stadium", who cares about your missing east stand, or the local economy, huh? DannyMan
  • Score: 0

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