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Saracens

  • Penalty, Strettle, Tomkins, Fraser,
    Penalty goals: Hodgson (3),
    Conversions: Hodgson (3),
35 - 14

London Welsh

  • Stegmann,
    Penalty goals: Henson (2),
    Drop goals: Henson,
  • Aviva Premiership
  • 3rd Mar 2013
  • KO 14:15
  • Ground: Vicarage Road
  • Att: 10,000

Aviva Premiership: Saracens beat London Welsh to go top

Last updated: 4th March 2013  

Richard Wigglesworth of Saracens beats the tackle from Tom Bristow of London Welsh

Sarries' Richard Wigglesworth evades the tackle of Tom Bristow

Schalk Brits of Saracens

Schalk Brits makes some hard yards for Saracens

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Saracens took full advantage of Harlequins' slip-up on Saturday by beating London Welsh 35-14 to return to the top of the Aviva Premiership table.

The champions were shocked by Exeter at the Stoop but their closest rivals rarely looked likely to make the same mistake against the struggling Exiles.

The visitors battled bravely - particularly given the upheaval they have suffered off the pitch this week - but Saracens had too much pace and power for them, particularly as the game wore on.

But it says everything for Welsh's spirit that even with the game long gone, they were defending their line ferociously before David Strettle went in for the bonus-point try seven minutes from time.

Saracens had to settle for two Charlie Hodgson penalties in a closely-fought opening quarter, but despite being on the back foot throughout, it was Welsh who came up with the first try on 26 minutes.

A slick handling move took the ball 50 metres upfield and when it was shipped the width of the pitch, Seb Stegmann slalomed his way over in the left corner on his debut, although Gavin Henson's conversion attempt rebounded off a post.

Saracens continued to play at a pace that Welsh were struggling to cope with and on the half hour Phil MacKenzie was sin-binned for cynically slowing up play.

Moments later a Saracens maul rumbled towards the line, it was dragged down and Welsh suffered the double blow of a penalty try and a second man in the bin - this time prop Tom Bristow.

But the visitors at least survived to the half having conceded just a further Hodgson penalty, with Henson's drop-goal on the whistle cutting the deficit to 16-11.

Initiative

The second half belonged almost exclusively to Saracens as they seized the initiative early with Joel Tomkins completing a scrum move with a powerful finish.

Hodgson converted but Henson's penalty kept Welsh in touch before the try of the game settled it, as David Strettle's step, and a superb offload from Schalk Brits put Will Fraser in for a brilliant one-handed finish at the corner.

James Short just failed to repeat the feat in the opposite corner as Stegmann's tackle forced him into touch, but after incessant pressure on the Welsh line, Strettle burst through a gap in the defence to score the bonus-point try.

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Friday 27th March
Aviva Premiership
19:45Northampton vs Wasps
Saturday 28th March
15:00London Irish vs Newcastle Falcons
15:00Leicester Tigers vs Exeter
15:15Saracens vs Harlequins
Sunday 29th March
14:00Sale Sharks vs Gloucester
14:30London Welsh vs Bath
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19:45Newcastle vs Bath
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15:00Harlequins vs Gloucester
15:15Saracens vs Leicester
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14:30London Welsh vs Wasps
15:00London Irish vs Sale
Friday 24th April
19:45Bath vs London Irish
Saturday 25th April
14:00Sale vs Harlequins
15:00Gloucester vs Newcastle
15:00Leicester vs London Welsh
15:15Northampton vs Saracens
Sunday 26th April
14:00Wasps vs Exeter
Friday 8th May
19:45Harlequins vs Bath
Saturday 9th May
14:00Sale vs Newcastle
15:00Northampton vs London Welsh
15:00Gloucester vs London Irish
15:15Wasps vs Leicester Tigers
Sunday 10th May
14:00Saracens vs Exeter
Saturday 16th May
15:30Exeter vs Sale

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Phil Edwards

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