Saracens defend Premiership Rugby 7s title with enthralling victory over Wasps
It was a case of deja vu for Saracens in the Premiership Rugby 7s final as they defended their title with a thrilling 35-19 triumph over Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens.
In a repeat of last year’s showpiece, Saracens once again proved too good for Wasps as Andrew Christie’s brace helped the Men in Black clinch the first silverware of the season.
Will Porter and Jacob Umaga had both crossed for Wasps as they came out the blocks intent on avenging their 2018 final defeat, with Jacob Umaga adding one conversion.
But it was not long before Saracens hit back and tries from Ali Crossdale, Tom Whiteley and Christie ensured the defending champions took a 21-12 lead into the break.
Christie added his second of the game soon after the restart to increase Saracens’ advantage, before Callum Sirker closed the gap for Wasps with a solo effort from his own half.
Saracens would not be denied, however, and Sean Reffell punctured a hole in the Wasps’ defence before sending Charlie Watson over the whitewash to seal another 7s title.
Earlier in the day, Leicester had given Wasps a scare in the first quarter-final after Jonny Law intercepted an errant pass and raced over the whitewash to put Tigers ahead.
Wasps responded almost immediately through Ben Vellacott before Leicester restored their lead with further tries from Freddie Steward and Toby Smith before the half-time interval.
But Leicester were unable to hold on to their advantage as a Sirker double either side of a another try from Paolo Odogwu ensured Wasps reached the last four with a 26-20 win.
Bristol were also forced to come from behind to book their place in the last four, with Jack Bates, Aaron Chapman and Toby Venner all dotting down in their 21-10 win over Harlequins.
Harlequins had taken an early lead through Lennox Anyanwu before three quickfire tries put the Bears ahead, with Lloyd Wheeldon grabbing a late consolation for Quins.
There was also drama aplenty in the third quarter-final as tries from Femi Sofolarin and Philip Cokanasiga saw London Irish take the lead against reigning champions Saracens.
The Men in Black rode out the storm, though, with Whiteley and Watson adding to first-half scores from Rotimi Segun and Christie to give Saracens a hard-fought 24-14 win.
But the game of the quarter-finals saw Exeter stage a late fightback to force extra time with Worcester Warriors, with both sides scoring four tries in a blockbuster 26-26 draw.
Max Bodilly, who had already scored twice in normal time, then completed his hat-trick with the match-winning score to send Chiefs through and break Worcester hearts.
The semi-finals began with Wasps rediscovering their try-scoring exploits from the opening day, running in eight tries to beat Bristol 54-12 and reach their sixth consecutive 7s final.
Thibaud Flament opened the scoring for Wasps before Umaga, Odogwu, Sunni Jardine all grabbed braces – with Sirker adding the other try – to cap off a dominant display.
And Saracens were also in clinical form as they booked their final berth by ending the challenge of Exeter in a repeat of last season’s Gallagher Premiership Rugby final.
A Whiteley double and further tries from Elliott Obatoyinbo, Crossdale and Tobias Munday secured their place in the final before they made it back-to-back titles with victory over Wasps.
Wasps 19-35 Saracens
Tries: Sirker, Umaga, Porter
Conversions: Umaga 2
Tries: Christie 2, Whiteley, Crossdale, Watson
Conversions: Whiteley 5