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Sarries sink Worcester
Warriors lose battle at Vicarage Road
Defending champions Saracens completed an 18-6 victory over Premiership newcomers Worcester at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
David Strettle and Brad Barritt crossed in the second-half while Charlie Hodgson, making his first start for Sarries, added a further eight points with two penalties and a conversion.
Hodgson booted Sarries into the lead in the third minute with a beautifully struck penalty from 36 metres out mid-way to the right touchline.
But the Premiership's top points scorer was uncharacteristically off target just short of the 20 minute mark when he bounced a relatively straightforward kick back off the post.
Sarries were made to pay for Hodgson's miss moments later, when Worcester pushed into their 22 and Andy Goode slotted a neat drop goal to level the scores.
With six minutes of the first period left Goode attempted an ambitious 54 metre penalty from inside his own half after the hosts were penalised for illegal binding at the scrum.
But the former England fly-half saw his long-range effort fall just short of the crossbar. He made no mistake however after another Saracens error, this time from well within range.
Goode slotted a straightforward kick from 23 metres with the last kick of the half and take the Warriors into the break leading 6-3.
Hodgson, another former England number 10 brought things back to level pegging with a well struck penalty two minutes after the restart.
Moments later Sarries lost influential hooker Schalk Brits, who was stretchered off in a neck brace following a lengthy treatment by medical staff on the pitch.
Worcester had the put-in at the scrum when the game resumed and pushed on into the Sarries 22 but Goode saw a second drop goal attempt charged down.
Worcester again won the put-in at the resulting scrum but the home side were able to clear their lines after they were penalised when it collapsed.
Hodgson missed the opportunity to grab the lead for Sarries 10 minutes into the second half when he struck a 44 metre penalty well wide of the posts.
The opening try came minutes later when scrum-half Neil de Kock fired the ball out wide from a breakdown on the Warriors 22.
Decoy runner Brad Barritt opened up a gap in the visitors defence and deft hands from Hodgson found Owen Farrell.
The replacement centre delivered the killer pass to Strettle with his first touch of the game for the winger to sprint down the left touchline and cross in the corner.
Hodgson missed the conversion but Saracens were beginning to turn the screw on the Premiership newcomers.
And nine minutes later they had their second, albeit in controversial circumstances when Barritt blasted through the Worcester lines after sustained pressure inside their 22.
Barritt appeared to be hauled down inches short and, with bodies piled high over the ball, it looked impossible to see whether it had been grounded on the right side of the line.
Nevertheless, amid the protests of the Worcester players, referee Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts awarded the five points without hesitation or referral to the TV official, who would surely have called no try.
Hodgson booted the extras to make it 18-6 and seven minutes later Worcester's replacement fly-half Joe Carlisle hit the crossbar with a long range penalty attempt.
Carlisle was one of six substitutions made by Worcester between the 62nd and 65th minute mark as they tried to force at least a losing bonus point.
But the injection of fresh blood failed to change the final scoreline and the visitors were forced to leave empty handed.
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Tom Hardy says...
This had to be one of the most inept refereeing and linesman performances I have ever seen. Not only were they off the pace but they missed just about every offence committed right under their noses. On can only hope that they are all sent back to officiate at schoolboy matches to learn the rules and the basics of rugby, not leats the scrum!
Posted 11:03 19th September 2011
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com