Saracens avenged last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat to London Irish after a try in either half from David Strettle sent them on their way to a comfortable victory.
Sarries had the wind in their faces in the first-half but still managed to take an 11-0 lead into the break after two penalties from Owen Farrell and Strettle’s effort.
The visitors briefly threatened a comeback at the start of the second half but, much like the opening period, the boot of Farrell and a Strettle try killed off any resistance.
It was an even start to proceedings and Irish looked like they might hold their own until Sarries burst into life after seven minutes when Farrell blocked an attempted clearance and his side mounted a rapid attack.
Irish resisted – Conor Gilsenan clearing the danger – but it was an early warning sign for the visitors.
The Exiles pushed back immediately when Topsy Ojo found a pocket of space through the middle of the Sarries defence but couldn’t capitalise.
Irish were looking solid and they missed the chance to take a lead after 18 minutes when Tom Homer’s penalty narrowly drifted wide of the uprights.
With 20 minutes gone the match was a tactical battle as both sides struggled to make any real impact.
Sarries found themselves with strong field position though and Alistair Hargreaves thought he had given his side a lead with an unlikely drop goal.
The whistle had already gone however but the home team did have a 3-0 lead moments later thanks to the boot of Farrell.
That lead was doubled shortly after when the Exiles were penalised in the scrum and Farrell was left with a simple kick to add to his tally.
Irish’s good start to the match was slowly coming undone and they found themselves further behind on 32 minutes.
Strettle found some space on the right after good work from Mako Vunipola and he crashed over for Sarries’ first try of the New Year – Farrell however unable to add the extras.
Sarries started brightly after the restart with the wind at their backs but it was Irish who made the first impact of the half.
The home side were penalised at the lineout and Homer made amends for his earlier miss to get the Exiles on the board.
That penalty looked like it might reinvigorate the visitors who had their best passage of play moments later when Alex Lewington fended off the attentions of Strettle and broke with pace down the left.
That burst brought about a second penalty in a matter of minutes for Irish and Homer was on target again – Saracens’ lead cut to five after just seven second-half minutes.
Farrell however was on hand after 52 minutes to kick his third penalty of the afternoon and he added his fourth five minutes later to restore Saracens’ 11-point lead.
The second-half was starting to look a lot like the first as Irish’s early work began to unravel.
And Strettle killed off their challenge after 62 minutes when he was once again given space on the right and pirouetted around the Irish defence for his second try of the day – Farrell’s conversion this time striking the upright.
The match suddenly had a whole new pace as Irish tried in vain to find a way back into the match and Saracens looked to add to their lead.
It was Sarries who looked the most likely but they lacked the killer instinct and Tim Wigglesworth called an end to proceedings to give Mark McCall’s men their third consecutive win.
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