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European round-up: No stopping Saracens at Ulster

Billy Vunipola’s bonus-point try capped a superb night for Saracens – and director of rugby Mark McCall admits his No.8’s second-half sin-binning swung the momentum his side’s way.

Saracens were looking to build on their opening European Rugby Champions Cup victory over Toulouse last Friday but entered the break at the Kingspan Stadium 9-5 behind.

Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson booted over two penalties and a drop-goal in a half that saw Saracens score through Chris Wyles but flanker Michael Rhodes enter the sin-bin.

A no arms tackle from Vunipola in the 54th minute seemed to ensure an attempted turnaround would be even harder for the visitors, but they scored two tries while down to 14 men.

Goode’s chip ahead was pounced upon by Duncan Taylor and he fed back to the England full-back to dot down, before Taylor himself raced over – this time Owen Farrell pulling the strings.

Vunipola then righted some wrongs in virtually the last act by smashing through following a line-out drive to cap a 27-9 victory, and McCall says the manner of victory impressed him the most.

"We had to work really hard for it,” said McCall. "The first 20 minutes we hadn't done all that wrong but we were 9-0 down and I think that's what that team has; they are very experienced and very resilient and found a way to claw their way back into the game in the second 20 minutes of the first half.

"But I think the turning point came when Billy Vunipola got sin-binned and I think that moment when they got into our 22 and we won a penalty the next eight minutes were wonderful and we got a strong, resilient team performance.

"At half-time, 9-5 was ok for us and we'd chosen to play into the strong breeze but then when we didn't capitalise on the pressure we had built early in the second half we were a little bit worried when Billy got sin-binned.

"But I thought we were magnificent in that 15-minute period. Our half-backs were superb, they probed the corners and ran at the right times."
 
Ulster
Penalties: Jackson 2
Drop-Goal: Jackson

Saracens
Tries: Wyles, Goode, Taylor, Vunipola
Conversions: Farrell 2
Penalties: Farrell

Referee: Roman Poite
Attendance: 17,209

 

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