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Saracens too good for Tykes

11 Sep 2005
Saracens too good for Tykes

Full-back Dan Scarbrough illuminated a gloomy Watford afternoon as he taunted his former club with a hand in all three first-half tries as Saracens opened an emphatic 27-3 lead by the interval.

It was Scarbrough’s pass that sent Thomas Castaignede scurrying over for the first try.

The England A international was then involved in a neat move that led to Kevin Sorrell scoring the second before touching down himself just before half-time.

Hooker Matt Cairns earned Saracens the bonus point with the fourth try after 46 minutes, rendering Chris Murphy’s late score for Leeds mere consolation on a dreadful afternoon for the Tykes.

Justin Marshall, Leeds’ high-profile All Blacks scrum-half, was embarrassingly replaced with 10 minutes remaining.

Leeds were pedestrian in attack, bereft of ideas and lacking any spark in the half-backs where Marshall and Gordon Ross were ponderous and the midfield of Roland de Marigny and Chris Jones ball shy.

There was no sense of calm when Leeds had the ball and their attacking play lacked fluidity. In contrast, Saracens were quick to spot the gaps and even quicker on the uptake. They were outshone by Wasps last week but coach Steve Diamond is determined to expand their game beyond a powerful pack.

Saracens had lacked creativity against Wasps and the Men in Black are still waiting expectantly for the creative force of Andy Farrell to recover from a toe injury and make his rugby union debut.

But today they switched the irrepressible Castaignede into midfield and the move reaped immediate dividends.

Scarbrough surged onto a wonderful offload from impressive number eight Ben Skirving and then fed Castaignede on his outside. The Frenchman had just enough pace to evade the retreating Tykes defence and dive over. The game was just six minutes old but the tone had been emphatically set.

Castaignede gave another flash of that intent with an angled run after Glen Jackson had extended Saracens’ advantage with his first penalty of the afternoon.

Gordon Ross pulled one back for Leeds but that was all the Tykes could muster in a desperate opening 40 minutes.

Blindside flanker Scott Morgan did escape down the left flank but Leeds made an almighty mess of the overlap as the ball made its way across field and Jon Dunbar failed to put Iain Balshaw away.

Leeds kept the pressure on Saracens’ quick-moving defence kept them at bay and when Marshall darted for the line from the base of a ruck, he was held up.

By that time Jackson had landed his second penalty and Saracens quickly totted up their imposing half-time score with Sorrell and Scarbrough scoring quickfire tries just before the interval.

Castaignede sparked the attack for the first of them, stepping in off the left wing and past Balshaw. Cobus Visagie took the ball up and established a platform. Scarbrough went wide, Alex Sanderson fed lock Kris Chesney and Sorrell burst through on the inside.

Just two minutes before the interval, Scarbrough showed the finishing skills that  earned him England A honours as he beat stranded prop James Isaacson and then stepped inside Balshaw.

Leeds boss Phil Davies made three changes at half-time, hauling off Ross and moving de Marigny to fly-half. Yet Leeds still had little to offer.

De Marigny landed a penalty but Saracens were soon on the offensive again, pounding Leeds backwards until they secured the four-try bonus as Cairns emerged from under a heap of bodies.

Jackson converted from wide left as Saracens opened a 34-6 lead – and then the reinforcements came on in the form of Dan Harris plus ex-internationals Kyran Bracken and Taine Randell.

Leeds gained a small measure of comfort with a consolation score, albeit a fortuitous one, when replacement lock Murphy scooped up a loose ball to gallop over.



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