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LV= Cup: Saracens kicked off a new era at Allianz Park with victory over Cardiff
Saracens beat Cardiff Blues 19-11 in a low-key LV= Cup match in the first professional rugby union match to be played on an artificial pitch.
It was a designated 'test event' at the £18m Allianz Park attended by 3,500 invited Saracens fans and the bold decision to abandon grass could only be viewed as a success.
The surface was in immaculate condition and appeared quick, justifying the club's promise that it would lead to a "faster, safer and more entertaining game".
The first try arrived in the 36th minute when Blues' number eight Robin Copeland pinched the ball at a Saracens lineout 15 metres out and headed for the line, riding a couple of tackles as he crashed over.
The preceding half an hour had been uneventful with Nils Mordt and Ceri Sweeney swapping penalties and also missing one apiece, ensuring the Blues led 8-6 at the interval.
Killing the ball at a ruck earned prop Sam Hobbs time in the sin-bin and Mordt punished the infringement with his third penalty.
Substitute Gareth Davies kicked the Blues to within a point with 10 minutes to go, but his fellow replacement Thomas Young was yellow carded in a lively finish.
But Saracens landed the killer blow in the closing moments when rampaging centre Duncan Taylor squirted a pass out to wing James Short who crossed, with Mordt converting.
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|Saturday 31st January|
|14:40||Harlequins vs Bath|
|15:00||Leicester vs Northampton|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Ospreys|
|18:30||Scarlets vs London Irish|
|Sunday 1st February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Cardiff Blues|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Saracens|
|14:30||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Exeter|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th February|
|14:00||Sale Sharks vs Scarlets|
|14:30||Cardiff Blues vs Leicester|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Bath vs Ospreys|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 8th February|
|14:30||Newport Gwent D'gons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Saracens vs Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com