Aviva Premiership
Strettle hat-trick sees Saracens home
ESPN Staff
September 6, 2014
Report Match details
Date/Time: Sep 6, 2014, 14:00 local, 13:00 GMT
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Saracens 34 - 28 Wasps
Attendance: 66164  Half-time: 20 - 9
Tries: Ashton, Strettle 3
Cons: Farrell 2, Hodgson 2
Pens: Hodgson 2
Tries: Hughes, Wade 2
Cons: Goode 2
Pens: Goode 3
Saracens' David Strettle breaks through the Wasps tackle Saracens v Wasps, Aviva Premiership, Twickenham, September 6, 2014
Saracens' David Strettle finished the game with a hat-trick of tries
© Getty Images
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A late David Strettle try was enough to secure Saracens a 34-28 win over Wasps on the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership at Twickenham.

Christian Wade's two second-half tries helped Wasps run in 22 unanswered points to lead 28-27, only for Saracens to strike back at the death. Strettle's final-minute score overturned Saracens' one-point deficit, the try awarded by television match official David Sainsbury.

Referee Andrew Small referred the decision on the score to the TMO, with Sainsbury eventually awarding the pivotal try. The decision left Wasps frustrated with replays seemingly suggesting Strettle knocked on while grounding the ball.

Premiership bosses have told referees to take greater control of big decisions and refer fewer calls to the television officials, but once again another big call has been made by arbiters off the field. Saracens lost last term's Premiership final due to a TMO call that awarded Alex Waller Northampton's extra-time winner: at the dawn of the new campaign, the review system has swung in their favour.

Tries from Chris Ashton and Strettle eased Saracens into half-time 20-9 ahead, only for Wasps to run in 22 unanswered points to lead 28-20. Strettle raced in for his second to squeeze Wasps' lead back to one point, before the former Harlequins wing crossed again to steal victory.

At the last, Saracens were able to shrug off the hangover from losing both the Heineken Cup and Premiership finals in eight days at the close of last term.

Saracens dominated a low-quality first-half, enveloping what attacks Wasps could launch without real concern. Former England fly-half Hodgson's creditable commitment to front-foot rugby yielded the game's opening try.

The ex-Sale playmaker forced two midfield loops, grubbering in behind the Wasps defensive line from the second - allowing Ashton to swoop home. Referee Small dished out a soft yellow card to Saracens flanker Kelly Brown, who batted the ball out of Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson's hands.

Goode posted the penalty to hand Wasps a scoreboard foothold, but even the numerical advantage could not galvanise any creativity from the Adams Park men. Hodgson and Goode traded penalties as the contest meandered along, Wasps unable to unlock Saracens' unremitting defensive structure.

Saracens pride themselves on capitalising on turnover ball counter-attacks, and pounced in typical fashion for their second try. The Men in Black pilfered possession in their own 22 to end a Wasps raid, Hodgson booted deep, and Strettle picked Wasps full-back Rob Miller's pocket. Former Sale man Miller misjudged the loose ball, Strettle ghosted in, and doubled Saracens' try-count.

Goode's scything midfield break raised Wasps' hopes, but again impressive build-up play garnered scant reward. The ex-Worcester and Leicester out-half slotted his third penalty, leaving Saracens cruising to a 20-9 half-time lead.

Wasps provided the perfect tonic to circumspect proceedings after the break, Hughes powering in for a fine try. The former Auckland Blues loose-forward set Simpson haring half the field into the Saracens 22 from a scrum, before finishing the break on the next phase.

Hughes thundered through Saracens' forward pack again minutes later, teeing up another tryline assault. Goode's smart reverse chip dribbled into the in-goal area, Wade outmuscled Ashton to the ball, and dotted down, for a try awarded via the television match official.

Goode failed with the touchline conversion, but Wasps took the lead for the first time in the match. Wade quickly sneaked in for his second, again courtesy of another cute defence-turning kick - this time from flanker Ashley Johnson.

The South African powerhouse revealed his soft side by dropping a neat grubber to set Wade racing past Strettle and over the whitewash, and that after cutting an impressive midfield swathe. Goode's conversion handed Wasps an eight-point lead at the start of the final quarter.

Saracens' immediate riposte sent Strettle in for his second try of the match, fit-again Farrell firing the scoring pass after climbing off the bench. The England fly-half then slotted the conversion to cut Wasps' lead back to one point. Farrell missed a tricky penalty and the chance to wrestle back Saracens' lead with four minutes to play but, when another opportunity came, Strettle delivered.

© Getty Images
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