Nils Mordt kicked 14 points to enhance Saracens’ LV= Cup chances with a 19-11 victory over Cardiff Blues in the first ever professional rugby match to be played on an artificial surface.
In front of a restricted crowd of 3,726 – the clash doubling up as a test event for Saracens’ new Allianz Park home – a Robin Copeland score at the end of the first half threatened to upset the script.
But after Mordt’s boot had put the hosts back in control, Saracens took advantage of two late Cardiff Blues yellow cards to put James Short over in the corner, with Mordt fittingly converting.
Ahead of the official opening of the 10,000-seat stadium on February 16, it was the start Saracens would have wanted to life in their new home and now leaves them well placed to reach the LV= Cup semi-finals.
After making history by getting the game underway, Saracens captain Mordt added another line to the record books with the first points, slotting a penalty on three minutes.
Ceri Sweeney responded with three points of his own on six minutes before Sarries debutant Maro Itoje crossed the try line – only to discover referee Rhys Thomas had long since blown for a forward pass.
The home side missed the chance to edge back ahead when Mordt’s penalty attempt passed to the right of the posts but Sweeney failed to take advantage of the slip when he also sent his second attempt wide.
Mordt made amends 12 minutes before half-time with a simple kick yet for all Saracens’ pressure it was the Blues who scored the first try at the Allianz Park Stadium.
Having broken from inside their own 22 through Luke Hamilton, Copeland, Gavin Evans and Harry Robinson the Blues found themselves deep in Saracens territory and after taking the ball off the back of the resulting lineout No.8 Copeland stretched out his 6ft 5ins frame to touch down.
Sweeney’s conversion attempt failed but nonetheless the Blues still headed in 8-6 up at the break.
Within ten minutes of the second half Saracens were back in front when Blues prop Sam Hobbs was sent to the sin-bin and Mordt dispatched his third penalty of the match.
After completing almost an hour on his return from injury England full-back Alex Goode, who will hope to face Scotland at Twickenham next weekend, made way for debutant Jack Wilson.
Despite being restored to their full force, the Blues fell further behind when Mordt added to his penalty haul on 63 minutes.
Cardiff could have re-taken the lead with 15 minutes remaining when Copeland broke from the half-way line but after motoring to the Saracens 22 he threw his pass, intended for the galloping Owen Williams, into touch.
The visitors’ fightback was further derailed with 11 minutes to go when Thomas Young was shown yellow.
Replacement Gareth Davies kicked a penalty two minutes later to move the Blues within a point of their hosts but further indiscipline saw Cardiff reduced to 13 when Daffyd Hewitt followed his team-mate to the bin.
And with gaps opening in defence James Short was left in acres of space to cross in the corner, with Mordt converting.