Saracens hand out a second-half thumping to Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Champions Cup
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
A dominant second-half ensured Saracens’ incredible season rumbles on as they destroyed Cardiff Blues in a 51-25 success.
Undefeated this term, the Welshmen had threatened to finally end the Men in Black’s dominance in a tough battle at Allianz Park in the Heineken Champions Cup.
But in the end normal service was well and truly resumed as Sarries recorded a comfortable victory.
They have been irrepressible this season with the only blot on a near-perfect record a draw with Sale Sharks in the Premier Rugby Cup.
But this second half was as good as it gets as they delivered a first-class drubbing to the shell shocked Blues.
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The victory leaves them top of the pool and probably desperately longing for the return on Saturday.
However, that second-half demolition seemed a long way away at half-time as Cardiff turned round with a deserved advantage.
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Despite their dominance this year the London club have been tested on plenty of occasions and the first half in the winter sunshine was definitely one such time.
It started well enough for the hosts as their first bit of possession saw Brad Barritt and Alex Lozowski combine to put Richard Wigglesworth under the posts on four minutes.
Back came the Blues with Blaine Scully the recipient as the play finally broke on the right wing after a series of phases took it first one way, then the other.
But it was the second that rocked the hosts back on their heels.
Owen Farrell lobbed a high ball straight up in the air which was fielded by Matthew Morgan just outside his own 22.
And from there he set off, round the outside of those chasing the kick and straight through the middle of some disappointing tackling for a truly wonderful solo try.
Gareth Anscombe landed the conversion and then a penalty as Cardiff threatened to run away.
Sarries twice thought they had quelled the uprisings but twice they saw tries ruled out by the TMO, both times quite rightly.
And they had to make do with two penalties that at least got them back to within one try.
That proved crucial as they pounced twice in just two minutes, both through Ben Earl.
First the replacement went over in the corner after Lozowski had made a big burst over the gain-line, and then he was given an early Christmas gift as he picked off Anscombe’s loose pass to stroll in unopposed.
That beginning to the second period was noticeable for the increase in intensity of the hosts and the relaxing from the visitors.
The TV match referee was given a third job to do, again ruling against Saracens as Earl was propelled over the line by the pack.
But a third home try of the half did finally arrive, closely followed by the fourth.
Wigglesworth’s long pass was gobbled up by Sean Maitland in the right corner and the Scot ran to almost the same spot two minutes later as Saracens cut loose.
The replacements continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over as Ben Spencer and Chris Judge crossed for further tries and Farrell’s kicks helped the score over the 50-mark.
Cardiff finally got out of their rigor to nab the final score, Olly Robinson fresh from a 10-minute trip to the sin-bin the scorer.
But it was a mere consolation and the question remains, who will finally stop the black juggernaut?
On that second-half showing, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the answer was nobody.
Saracens: Vunipola, George, Koch, Isiekwe, Skelton, Rhodes, Burgwe, Wray, Wigglesworth, Farrell, Lewington, Barritt, Lozowski, Maitland, Goode.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Barrington, Judge, Day, Clark, Earl, Spencer, Tomkins.
Tries: Wigglesworth 4, Earl 45, 47, Maitland 58, 60, Spencer 69, Judge 71
Conversions: Farrell 4, 47, 60, 69, 71
Penalties: Farrell 27, 40
Cardiff Blues: Gill, Myhill, D.Lewis, Earle, Davies, Turnbull, Robinson, Manoa, Williams, Anscombe, Harries, Evans, Millard, Scully, Morgan.
Replacements: E.Lewis, Thyer, Andrews, Cook, Thornton, Jones, Shingler, Smith.
Tries: Scully 11, Morgan 20, Robinson 75
Conversions: Anscombe 20, 75
Penalties: Anscombe 24, 32
HT: Saracens 13 Cardiff Blues 18
Referee: Romain Poite (France)