Seven-up Saracens smash Bedford Blues
22:58 29 August 2014
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Bedford Blues 3 Saracens 47
Tim Streather scored twice as Saracens wrapped up their pre-season campaign with a thumping seven score victory over Championship outfit Bedford Blues tonight.
Will Fraser, Matt Hankin, Tom Whiteley and two penalty tries accounted for another impressive scoreline with the Hendon side already having inflicted heavy defeats on London Scottish and Ospreys ahead of their Premiership curtain-raiser against Wasps at Twickenham next weekend.
A dual registration arrangement between Sarries and Blues has cast this particular contest as a regular summer friendly fixture and there were 14 players in Sarries squad with connections to the Goldington Road side.
The hosts were also littered with former and loaned Saracens men in the shape of Jake Sharp, Nick Fenton-Wells, Henry Staff, Nathan Earle and Jared Saunders.
Sharp missed an early penalty for Bedford and they were only afforded one more shot at goal as the Men in Black’s formidable Wolfpack defence remained watertight all game.
The same couldn’t be said at the opposite end and the visitors made their first impression on the scoreboard with a penalty try that Charlie Hodgson converted.
Canadian international full back James Pritchard – in his testimonial campaign for Blues – reduced the arrears with thei solitary succesful penalty before former Blues loanee Will Fraser squeezed between two defenders with a finish that suggested the back row is back to his best after an injury-hit season. Hodgson added the extras before the final five minutes of the half resulted in a yellow card apiece.
Saracens failed to deal with a Sharp up-and-under and England Under-20 World Cup winner Nathan Earle’s hunt led to full back Alex Goode and first-choice wide man David Strettle both fumbling the ball and the latter being sent to the sin-bin after he tried to recover.
Blues captain Fenton-Wells followed him to the cooler on the stroke of half time, the victim of persistent infringing on the part of his side.
Still, with a half time score of just 14-3 to the Premiership and Heineken Cup runners-up there was plenty to be positive about for the part-timers. That all changed after the interval.
Wholesale changes left on Chris Ashton, Ben Spencer, Goode on the pitch, while Strettle returned from the sidelines five minutes in, but the new-look side ripped into Blues.
With the Londoners restored to their full complement, they set in motion their devastating lineout drive which was finished off by Matt Hankin who may yet feature for the Blues this coming campaign as a dual registered player. The forward should have claimed a second but somehow dropped the ball as he dove for the whitewash.
Before that though, Sarries had scored again as Streather cut through the heart of the home defence to flop over beside the upright. Nils Mordt converted and a second penalty try was the result as the Blues pushed their luck too far at a five-metre scrum.
Having replaced scrum-half Ben Spencer, Tom Whiteley scored with virtually his first touch of the ball when he crashed over just after the hour mark and Mordt again bisected the posts.
Bedford could feel slightly aggrieved that their ranks were reduced for a second time when Steve Ellis harpooned the not inconsiderable frame of lock George Kruis.
The 14 men were never likely to keep Saracens out but Streather’s second score was still a thing of beauty as the centre picked a perfect line, gathered in Mordt’s popped pass and scythed his way to the line. His assistant punted the extras to complete a dominant dress rehearsal for next weekend’s London Double Header clash at headquarters.
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Taylor, Barritt, Strettle, Hodgson, Spencer, Barrington, George, Longbottom, Hargreaves, Hamilton, Brown, Fraser, Wray.
Replacements: Spuring, Gill, Du Plessis, Alo, Botha, Kruis, Smith, Hankin, Burger, Joubert, Thompson-Stringer, Whiteley, Mordt Streather, Tompkins, Wilson, Morris, Ransom