Ben Earl put in a seriously impressive display in Saracens home win against Bristol Bears. The young flanker has been touted for an England call-up and displays like today will only help his chances.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) December 21, 2019
Try Out of Nothing for Bristol
Saracens dominated the opening exchanges with their kicking game pinning Bristol back into their half. Andy Uren came up with a magic moment in the tenth minute when he raced out of the line to intercept a Ben Spencer miss pass.
Elliot Daly covered well to make the tackle on the 5m line. However, Sheedy put in an inch-perfect cross-field kick to put Luke Morahan in the corner. The fly-half converted to make it a seven-point score for the visitors.
True to form Saracens hit straight back though. A Max Malins break set up a 5m centre field scrum for the home side. Billy Vunipola went close off the base before brother Mako burrowed his way in from short range. Farrell dutifully added the extras.
One Point in it at Half-Time
Bristol were able to maintain pressure on the Premiership Champions to chalk up a six-point lead by the 25th minute. Two penalties from the boot of Sheedy saw that Bristol ahead until the dying seconds of the half.
Saracens then did what Saracens do. They exerted pressure at the line out and maul causing countless penalties. Eventually, Bristol had to give way or concede a yellow card. Under advantage, Max Malins jinked his way through the defence to score under the posts. Farrell added the extras to take his side in front at the break.
The first half was a story of Saracens inaccuracies coupled with Bristolian opportunism. Whenever the away side had a sniff they made it count with points from the boot or with a try. However, Saracens laboured for their points but a tight game was still a fair reflection for the first 40 minutes.
Mark McCall was proud of the way his team reacted to being behind in the first half. He said “we could have been frustrated after 30 minutes” but “we stuck to task and kept going”.
Saracens Accelerate After Half-Time
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The first attacking opportunity of the second-half saw Nick Tompkins put through a hole by captain, Brad Barritt. The underrated centre then rounded the fullback to slide under the sticks.
As Saracens kicked into top gear, potential England call-up Ben Earl then scored the bonus point try. Farrell put him through a hole on the 22 and the young flanker had more than enough pace to find the try line. This brought the score to 28-13.
From there the home side never let up. A fortuitous offload from Sean Maitland landed in the hands of Max Malins via the head of Callum Sheedy. This allowed the stand-in fullback to dot down acrobatically in the corner.
Barritt Caps 250th Appearance with a Try
It soon became quite ugly for the Bears who haven’t won at Saracens since 2006. After a turnover from Ben Earl in the corner, Saracens put together some probing phases. This all came to fruition when their talismanic captain marked a milestone day in his career with a try in the corner.
From their the game somewhat lost its edge. Both sides rang the changes and as a result, the match petered out. The final whistle blew with the final score 47-13 and Saracens now 17 points behind 11th placed Leicester Tigers.
Ben Earl “gives you something different”
The young flanker put in another great performance and to further stake his claim to an England call-up. Mark McCall described him as a “special ball carrier”.
McCall was keen to stress Earl’s youth. He heralded the other Saracens players for helping him improve.
“you get better the more you are surrounded by good players”
Pat Lam – “every game means more than every final they’ve [Saracens] played”
Lam pointed out that his side was “right in this game until five minutes before half-time”. However, a combination of harsh refereeing calls and ill-discipline from his side allowed Saracens to pull away.
“ten minutes after half-time, worst ten minutes we played all year”
Lam lamented soft tries and silly mistakes as to why Saracens were able to get on top. Lam said, “marginal things can cost you and that’s effectively what happened”.
?| #BristolBears fall to defeat at Allianz Park.
Congratulations to @Saracens on a well deserved victory ?
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) December 21, 2019
“Main Photo Credits”
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