Sarries edge out Bristol
November 1, 2008
Saracens' Andy Farrell forces an opening in the Bristol defence
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Saracens ended their EDF Energy Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign with a narrow 24-22 victory over Bristol at the Memorial Ground.
Saracens' narrow victory on a bitterly cold afternoon in front of just 5,025 supporters was not enough to secure passage past the group stages of the competition.
Northampton Saints' bonus-point win over the Scarlets at Franklins Gardens puts them through to to the semi-finals in Coventry in March. The home side had only won once before this season, the European Challenge Cup tie at home to Toulon, while Saracens had won six of their last seven games in all competitions including a 23-16 Premiership victory when they visited Memorial Stadium in October.
The visitors were forced to make a change just before the kick-off when right wing Rodd Penney injured himself in the pre-match warm-up so Edd Thrower was promoted from the bench. Bristol took an early lead with a 25-metre kick from Adrian Jarvis after the fly-half had missed a 45-metre kick after two minutes.
They kept applying the pressure and were rewarded with a try as full-back Vunga Lilo gave the scoring pass to wing David Lemi. Jarvis was again on off target with his conversion kick from out wide before Sarries fly-half Glen Jackson slotted a 25-metre penalty between the uprights.
Bristol suffered a setback midway through the half when lock Nathan Budgett was stretchered off and replaced by Robert Sidoli. Jackson reduced the arrears to two points on the half hour with his second penalty but Jarvis missed the opportunity to cancel it out immediately as again he missed the uprights before finding his target five minutes before the break with a 15-metre kick from in front of the posts.
Bristol led 16-6 at the interval after Jackson sliced a penalty and Jarvis rattled the crossbar with a long-range attempt before Lemi scored his second try of the game in the left corner, on the stroke of half-time, taking a neat tap pass from skipper Joe El Abd.
Jackson missed another penalty early in the second half before Bristol hit back from a lineout close to their own line. Lemi raced away 50 metres before the ball went through several pairs of hands. Bristol replacement centre Chris Ashwin added a penalty only for Jackson to pull back three points.
The home side were reduced to 14 men when replacement wing Mat Turner was yellow carded midway through the half when he stood his ground as wing Noah Cato came in to take a high ball. Saracens took advantage of the extra man as Cato scored in the left corner with Jackson adding the extras to reduce the scoreline to 19-16 going in to the final quarter.
Saracens' second try followed minutes later as skipper Andy Farrell gave the scoring pass to full-back Alex Goode, again in the left corner, to put the visitors into the lead for the first time. Ashwin and Jackson then exchanged penalties to complete the scoring.
Bristol: Lilo, T. Arscott, Brew, Eves, Lemi, Jarvis, Beveridge, Clarke, Regan, Hobson, Winters, Budgett, Salter, El Abd, Ward-Smith.
Replacements: Turner for T. Arscott (54), Ashwin for Brew (32), Linklater for Regan (50), Crompton for Hobson (71), Sidoli for Budgett (18), R. Pennycook for Salter (54). Not Used: Thomas.
Sin Bin: Turner (57).
Saracens: Goode, Thrower, Powell, A. Farrell, Cato, Jackson, Rauluni, Lloyd, Cairns, Visagie, Ryder, Vyvyan, Skirving, Saull, Owen.
Replacements: Sorrell for Powell (72), Chesney for Ryder (58), Barrell for Skirving (52). Not Used: Walker, Mercey, Wilson, Ross.
Ref: G Wilson (Scotland).