Match Reaction: Scarlets 17 Saracens 32
Saracens academy coach Ian Vass was left reflecting on a job well done as his young side racked up a 32-17 bonus-point win over Scarlets in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Tries from Nick Tomkins, Matt Gallagher, Mike Ellery and Tom Whiteley – the latter two after the break – saw Sarries leave Wales with four valuable points to put them top of Pool 1.
Scarlets, whose hopes of progressing to the semi-finals are now all-but ended, rallied from 18-0 down at half-time to notch up two tries of their own.
But the visitors’ lead was never truly in danger as Saracens set themselves up for next weekend’s home clash with Leicester Tigers.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) January 27, 2017
“The five points were needed and we will go into the Leicester game next week with a chance of getting through (to the semi-finals),” said Vass.
“The breakdown was massive for us and when we did get it right we managed to create some tries, but when we didn’t it got a bit messy.
“We do like to come in and impose ourselves defensively but the boys kept on coming and they scored a couple of deserved tries and we were pretty pleased to get that bonus-point try at the end because it was definitely in the balance before then.
“The experience of this game is invaluable and will be the highest level some of the players will play in the year. It is a great stepping stone for the Premiership.”
Great to be back out on the pitch tonight. 40 mins ✔️. Lads were outstanding, some real talent to come through in the next few years! 👏
— Will Fraser (@Will_Fraser89) January 27, 2017
Saracens gave debuts to wing Rotimi Segun and fly-half Max Malins and included flanker Will Fraser in the starting line up for the first time since the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final in May 2016.
The latter managed to complete 40 minutes unscathed while Malins also contributed a conversion and two penalties as Saracens successfully saw out the game despite Scarlets’ second-half revival.
Scarlets meanwhile were left to rue their first-half showing as they gave themselves too much to do after the break.
“Some credit has to be given to the group – we showed some great character to come back and scored a couple of tries,” said Scarlets coach Ioan Cunningham.
“In the first half we probably lacked a bit of energy and physicality and we spoke about that at half-time, and I was really pleased we responded in the second half.
“Saracens are renowned defensively. They are and excellent outfit and they bring a lot of line speed. We possibly played into their hands a little bit with some ball in the air for too long.
“In the second half we carried a bit closer to the gainline and we got some rewards for that.”
Great win for @Saracens boys tonight, hell of an effort and awesome to get the 5 points!
— Matt Gallagher (@MattGallagherr) January 27, 2017
Scarlets: Jones, Williams, Hughes, Owen, Baldwin (Smith R 68), Maynard (McBryde 55), Smith D (Lloyd 68), Evans (Robinson 61), Phillips E (Myhill 62), Thomas (Edwards 17), Helps, Bernardo (Day 62), Condy, Macleod, Allen (Phillips T 61)
Saracens: Gallagher; Ellery, Streather, Tompkins, Segun (Morris 66); Malins (Whiteley 59), Taylor (De Kock 58); Lamositele (Culverhouse 67’), Spurling (Saunders 54), Du Plessis (Walker 54); Isiekwe (Baillie 58), Flanagan; Conlon, Fraser (Earl 41), Vunisa.
Tries: Allen, McBryde
Conversions: Maynard, McBryde
Tries: Tompkins, Gallagher, Ellery, Whiteley
Conversions: Malins, Whiteley (2)
Penalties: Malins (2)
Referee: Jake Makepeace