Saracens v Bedford Blues
Bedford put in a solid performance against Saracens in their last pre-season friendly, but were unable to deal with the Premiership team’s quality as the hosts triumphed 71-12.
Blues winger Neville Edwards got both tries for Bedford at the Allianz Park, with Jake Sharp only able to convert the first, but it was nowhere near enough as Sarries ran in 10 tries in reply.
Edwards first broke after cleverly being put through by Mark Atkinson on 19 minutes and his second came on the hour when the summer signing seized on some sloppy Saracens passing to burst down the wing to touch down in the corner.
The difference between the two teams was Saracens’ strength-in-depth though as they took complete control in the last 20 minutes when they introduced replacements Ben Ransom, Jack Wilson and Matt Hankin.
It was a warm afternoon at the Allianz Park and the game started in negative fashion for Bedford as Darren Fearn picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Nic Auterac on eight minutes.
Alistair Hargreaves got Saracens off the mark on 10 minutes as England international Owen Farrell followed up with the extras.
Farrell added a penalty to put the hosts 10-0 ahead, but Bedford hit back on 19 minutes through Edwards, with Sharp adding the extras.
Saracens displayed their strength in the scrums and, although their passing let them down in the opening 20 minutes their power and possession eventually prevailed.
Chris Wyles slipped through after a scrum inside the Blues 22 and Farrell again did the honours to make it 17-7.
Tom Armes got himself into trouble on 33 minutes when he was sin-binned at a scrum and Sarries were awarded a penalty try, easily improved by Farrell.
The Blues tried to get back in the game, but grubber kicks and clever switches couldn’t break Saracens’ defence.
And right on the stroke of half time Saracens number 11 David Strettle wrong-footed Brendan Burke to score an unconverted try as Saracens led 29-7 at the break.
The second half saw the Blues bring on Tom Jubb and Michael Le Bourgeois, but Saracens really stepped it up a gear.
On 45 minutes Chris Ashton easily scored and four minutes later Ernst Joubert earned a try as Farrell’s replacement, Nils Mordt, converted both.
A series of lineouts helped Bedford to exert some pressure and they got their reward on the hour through Edwards’ second score.
Nico Steenkamp was introduced by Bedford on 67 minutes, but Sarries rammed home their advantage with scores from replacements Ransom and Hankin and a brace from Wilson.
The last four tries were all converted by Ben Spencer to seal a comprehensive win that perhaps didn’t reflect the effort shown by the Blues who will now turn their attention to the season-opener against London Welsh at the same venue in two weeks time.
Saracens: Rhys Gill, Jamie George, Matt Stevens, Steve Borthwick (C), Alistair Hargreaves, Billy Vunipola, Jacques Burger, Ernst Joubert, Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell, David Strettle, Brad Barritt, Joel Tomkins, Chris Ashton, Chris Wyles. Replacements: Scott Spurling, Mako Vunipola, George Kruis, Pitrus Du Plessis, George Morris, Jackson Wray, Justin Melck, Ben Ransom, Ben Spencer, Nils Mordt, Duncan Taylor, Nathan Earle, Michael Tagicakibau, Jack Wilson, Josh Sharp.
T: Hargreaves, Wyles, Penalty Try, Strettle, Ashton, Joubert, Ransom, Hankin, Wilson 2. P: Farrell. C: Farrell 3, Mordt 2, Spencer 4.
Blues: Darren Fearn, Charlie Clare, Ben Cooper, Paul Tupai, Mike Howard, Tom Armes, Darren Fox (C), Joe Vandermolen, Luke Baldwin, Jake Sharp, Nevile Edwards, Ollie Dodge, Sam Stanley, Patrick Tapley, Mark Atkinson. Replacements: Nic Auterac, Nico Steenkamp, Phil Boulton, Ben Gulliver, Tom Jubb, Sacha Harding, Don Barrell, Michael LeBourgeois, Chris Lord.
T: Edwards 2. C: Sharp.