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Will Fraser scores Men in Black's only try on his return from injury as Saracens beat London Wasps 19-12 at Allianz Park
It’s a mark of how far Saracens have come in recent years that without their captain, first choice-fly-half and leading try-scorer in the starting line-up the Men in Black were still able to record a fairly comfortable 19-12 win over London Wasps to stay top of the Premiership table.
There was a time when Saracens might have been the ones happy to take a losing bonus-point from this fixture but it was the Wasps supporters who were cheering as Andy Goode converted with the last kick of the game to ensure the visitors went home with some share of the spoils.
Saracens were a pale shadow of the team that had scored 14 tries in their first four games of the season but a poor performance was still enough to make it five victories out of five in the league before the club turns its attentions to the Heineken Cup next week.
Will Fraser returned from a five-month injury absence and scored the Men in Black’s only try of the day early in the second half.
While Wasps responded with two scores themselves through captain Chris Bell, four Sarries penalties – one from Alex Goode and three from Owen Farrell – and a Farrell conversion were enough to seal the win long before Andy Goode’s final effort from the tee.
With an eye on the Heineken Cup which begins next week, Saracens rung the changes with only Chris Ashton, Alex Goode and Chris Wyles keeping their places from last week’s win over Harlequins.
Fraser returned to the starting line-up for the first time in nearly six months after recovering from a shoulder injury while summer signing James Johnston made his first start for the club.
Farrell was rested and with Charlie Hodgson out injured, Alex Goode took over duties at fly-half and it was the number 10 who scored the first points of the game, slotting home a penalty after six minutes to put Saracens ahead.
The hosts dominated possession in the first quarter of an hour and Ashton looked eager to continue his excellent recent form, making two good breaks early on.
Sarries though were unable to break down a resolute Wasps defence and apart from a thumping hit from Ashley Johnson on Ben Ransom which had the crowd wincing, neither team gave their supporters much to cheer about in the first 25 minutes.
Just before the half hour mark, Wasps lock Kearnan Myall was shown a yellow card for a tackle on Fraser but Goode missed the resulting penalty from long range and the Men in Black failed to capitalise on the extra man before an uninspiring half drew to a close.
Ransom came off at half-time and was replaced by Farrell allowing Alex Goode to slip back into his more familiar position of full-back.
Minutes into the second period, Farrell missed the chance to extend the Men in Black’s lead with a penalty from out wide but moments later it was his pass that set up the first try of the match as Farrell gave to Alex Goode who fed Fraser to run over the line in the corner.
Farrell converted and Sarries led 10-0 with 47 minutes on the clock.
The Men in Black continued to look comfortable but failed to convert control into points and when the next score came, it went to the visitors.
Christian Wade made a brilliant break down the right wing, evading three tackles before eventually being piled into touch ten metres short of the line.
The attack didn’t end there though as Wade quickly looked up and fed Bell who dived over the line to put Wasps back in the match.
With just over ten minutes to play, Farrell extended the home side’s lead to more than a converted try’s worth as his penalty made it 13-5. Andy Goode was unable to return the favour as his attempt from long range drifted wide moments later.
Two more Farrell penalties made it 19-5 and looked to have extinguished any hopes of a Wasps revival. Ashton was yellow carded late on for a cynical knock-on as Josh Bassett looked certain to score.
Wasps did have the last word as Bell went over for his second try of the game and Andy Goode, with the last kick of the match, converted to seal a losing-bonus point for the visitors.
Saracens: 1. Rhys Gill (M.Vunipola, 67), 2. Jamie George (Brits, 54), 3. James Johnston (Du Plessis 60), 4. Alastair Hargreaves (Botha, 67), 5. George Kruis, 6. Jackson Wray (Brown, 51), 7. Will Fraser, 8. Ernst Joubert (capt), 9. Neil de Kock (Wigglesworth, 51), 10. Alex Goode, 11. Michael Tagicakibau, 12. Chris Wyles, 13. Joel Tomkins (Wilson, 77), 14. Chris Ashton; 15. Ben Ransom (Farrell, 40)
Replacements: 16. Schalk Brits, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Petrus Du Plessis, 19. Mouritz Botha, 20. Kelly Brown, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Jack Wilson
London Wasps: 1. Matt Mullan (Mcintyre, 63), 2. Carlo Festuccia (Lindsay, 55), 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley (Taylor, 67), 4. Joe Launchbury (Myall, 82) 5. Kearnan Myall (Cannon, 69), 6. Ed Jackson, 7. Ashley Johnson (Thompson, 63), 8. Nathan Hughes, 9. Charlie Davies, 10. Joe Carlisle, 11. Josh Bassett, 12. Charlie Hayter, 13. Chris Bell (capt), 14. Christian Wade, 15. Elliot Daly
Replacements: 16. Tom Lindsay, 17. Simon Mcintyre, 18. Will Taylor, 19. James Cannon, 20. Guy Thompson, 21. Jack Moates, 22. Andy Goode, 23. Ben Jacobs
Referee: Luke Pearce
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