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Sarries scrap through against Ospreys

Saracens continued with their fine start to the tournament when they claimed a 36-34 bonus-point win over the Ospreys at Allianz Park on Saturday.

Despite outscoring their visitors five tries to four, the champions had to dig deep for this result and the sides were level at 17-17 at half-time after the Ospreys dominated for most of the first half.

Ospreys were dealt a double blow shortly before kick off when their Wales international flankers Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric were both forced to withdraw with back injuries.

This led to Guy Mercer replacing Lydiate and Sam Cross took Lydiate’s place in the Welsh region’s run-on side while prop Gareth Thomas was drafted onto the replacements bench as back row cover.

Saracens were fastest out of the blocks and opened the scoring as early as the eighth minute when long passes from Owen Farrell and Alex Goode put Chris Wyles in the clear and the USA international cantered over for an easy try.

The Ospreys struck back in style shortly afterwards when, after a strong run, Cory Allen was brought to ground inside Sarries’ 22 but he did well to free his arms and offload to Dan Evans, who went over for a well-taken try.

And midway through the half, Nicky Smith did well with a strong run before the ball came out to Evans, who cut through the home side’s defence with a telling break, before crossing for his second five-pointer.

Dan Biggar added the extras which meant the visitors led 14-7 and he extended his side’s lead courtesy of a penalty on the hour-mark.

Farrell cancelled that effort out with a penalty of his own in the 34th minute before Schalk Brits went over for Sarries’ second try and the conversion from Farrell meant the teams were all square as they changed sides at the interval.

A 45th minute penalty from Biggar, restored the Welsh region’s lead before Sarries went in front, ten minutes later, courtesy of a penalty try after Evans stopped a certain try when he knocked the ball from Nick Tompkins’ hands close to his try-line.

Evans was yellow carded for his indiscretion and with the score 24-20 in their favour, Sarries had their tails up. And in the 61st minute, they secured their bonus point when Liam Williams went over for their fourth try although Farrell missed with the conversion attempt.

The visitors continued to attack and they were rewarded in the 69th minute when Owen Watkin beat a couple of defenders before dotting down under the posts and Biggar’s conversion meant Sarries held a slender two-point lead with 10 minutes left to play.

The home side responded when Tompkins went over for their fifth try, three minutes later, but the Ospreys did not surrender and shortly before the end, Cross rounded off a flowing move in the right-hand corner which meant the visitors left Allianz Park with two deserved bonus points.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: 
Wyles, Brits, Williams, Penalty try, Tompkins
Cons: Farrell 3
Pen: Farrell

For Ospreys:
Tries:
 Evans 2, Watkin, Cross
Cons: Biggar 4
Pens: Biggar 2
Yellow Card: Evans

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