December 7 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe at the Honourary Artillery Company
Friday, August 23, 2013
Friendly: Saracens 61 Cornish Pirates 3
Chris Ashton and Ben Ransom both bagged a brace of tries as Saracens opened their pre-season campaign with a ruthless nine-score destruction of Championship outfit Cornish Pirates in the City of London last night.
The Hendon side handed debuts to summer signings Billy Vunipola and James Johnstone with the former putting in a bruising and strong-running display of what is in store for rivals in the coming Premiership campaign. The flanker, signed from Wasps, was the catalyst for the third try, Ransom’s first, and he was at the base of a Sarries scrum that produced power that few packs will relish pushing against.
The top-flight side were in front within two minutes when Ashton fed in fellow winger David Strettle.
The former Wigan man, fresh from a summer break after his omissions from the England and British and Irish Lions tours, looked to have rediscovered his devastating directness and proved the scourge of Pirates tacklers all afternoon. His second saw him put the after burners on with a kick and chase that left Cornwall scrum-half Gavin Cattle in his slipstream as he dribbled over the try-line with his feet before flopping greedily on the ball.
Before that, hooker Jamie George - who had scored a hat-trick in a 75-0 South African training camp run-out against Colleage Rovers last week - added Saracens’ second score.
Ransom them made it 21-3, thanks to that Vunipola burst and assist, and when Ashton claimed his first after concerted pressure in the Pirates’ 22, a rout was firmly on the cards.
The south-west side’s only points came via the boot of Kieran Hallet during that four-try blitz and they rarely came close to adding any more as Sarries’ notoriously miserly defence from last term picked up where it left off.
Lock George Kruis touched down a fifth inbetween Ashton’s double, which saw the Londoners take an emphatic 42-3 lead into the half time break.
Within five minutes of the restart, Ransom had added his second, jinking his way through a gaping hole in the Pirates defence before Duncan Taylor got in on the act with a lightning break, and though he was hauled down just before the line he was able stretch out to dot down.
But the scoring slowed predictably with the expected raft of replacements that saw another summer signing Tim Streather get his first taste of a full XV game after making his debut earlier this month in the Premiership 7s at Allianz Park.
But Sarries’ defence held firm despite some better play from Pirates and, after a comparitavly lengthy 20-minute wait for a try, Ransom played in Jack Wilson to complete the scoring.
Saracens’ next pre-season game will be against another Championship side Bedford Blues on Saturday, September 31 at Allianz Park.
Saracens: Ransom, Ashton, Tomkins, Taylor, Strettle, Hodgson, Wigglesworth; Gill, George, Johnston, Borthwick, Kruis, B.Vunipola, Burger, Joubert
Replacements (all used): Spurling, Auterac, du Plessis, Botha, Hargreaves, Melck, Wray, Hankin, Spencer, Mordt, Tagicakibau, Wilson, Streather
Cornish Pirates: Holland, Tincknell, Riley, James, Jones, Hallett, Cattle; Paver, Elloway, Prescott, Sandford, Johnson, Morgan, Cheesman, Parker
Replacements (all used): Andrew, Brown, Maidment, Barry, Bolwell, Conlon, Kessell, Sinclair, Bodilly, Pope
Referee – M.Carley (RFU)