Saracens close gap with bonus-point win at Wasps

The first of Alex Goode’s two tries was Sarries’ second in the left corner in less than 10 minutes
Aviva Premiership
Wasps (15) 15
Tries: Penalty, Le Roux Con: Cipriani Pen: Cipriani
Saracens (18) 38
Tries: Goode 2, Wyles, Burger, Spencer Cons: Farrell 2 Pens: Farrell 3

Saracens defied two yellow cards in little over a minute to claim a bonus-point victory at Wasps and halve the deficit on Premiership leaders Exeter.

Three first-half tries inside half an hour from Chris Wyles, Alex Goode and Schalk Burger put Sarries 18-3 up.

Wasps got back in it when, inside three minutes, Burger and Owen Farrell were sin-binned, and Wasps scored twice, a penalty and one from Willie Le Roux.

But a second try from Goode and one for Ben Spencer secured Sarries’ victory.

Having trailed Exeter by 10 points at the start of the day, second-placed Sarries’ bonus point from their five tries, coupled with Exeter’s defeat at Newcastle, allowed them to close the gap to five points.

And they did it with highly encouraging returns from injury for England pair Billy Vunipola, back after undergoing knee surgery in September, and Maro Itoje, who broke his jaw in December.

After recovering from a third major surgery in 10 months, prop Vunipola was a marauding powerhouse for the 69 minutes he was on the pitch, while lock Itoje, although less conspicuous, lasted the whole 80 minutes unscathed.

Sarries’ biggest Premiership win over third-placed Wasps was the injury-hit hosts’ first defeat in seven games – and came at the expense of further injuries, notably a late one for Le Roux.

It looked plain sailing for Sarries when, despite the rare sight of Farrell missing with all three kicks, Wyles and Goode both went in at the left corner inside the first 15 minutes, before Burger’s try carved an 18-3 lead, with only Danny Cipriani’s penalty in response.

But Burger was yellow carded for illegal entry into a driving maul which cost Sarries a penalty try. And, when Farrell was then also sin-binned for a high tackle on Dan Robson, Christian Wade’s pace helped the hosts cash in on the two-man advantage to score though Le Roux.

Wasps thought they had a way back in when flanker Thomas Young went over in the corner. But it was chalked off for putting a foot in touch.

Instead, it was Sarries who scored late though Goode and then again through Spencer in the dying seconds, by which time England and Lions linchpin Farrell had rediscovered his range to complete a haul of three penalties and two conversions.

Wasps: Le Roux; Wade, De Jongh, Lovobalavu, Watson; Cipriani, Robson; Harris, Johnson (capt), Cooper-Woolley, Gaskell, Myall, Haskell, Young, Carr.

Replacements: Cruse, West, Moore, Rowlands, Thompson, Simpson, Miller, Armitage.

Saracens: Goode; Earle, Taylor, Barritt (capt), Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, Tolofua, Koch, Itoje, Isiekwe, Rhodes, Burger, B Vunipola.

Replacements: George, Barrington, Figallo, Skelton, Wray, Spencer, Lozowski, Maitland.

Sin bin: Burger (37), Farrell (38)

Attendance: 17,677.

Referee: Wayne Barnes.

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