MATCH REPORT | CA Brive 5-55 Saracens Men
Saracens Men booked their place in the Last 16 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup after a dominant 55-5 victory over Brive at the Stade Amedee-Domenech.
The Men in Black were on the front foot from start to finish, and scored eight tries to ensure their passage to the knockouts next weekend.
Sarries started strongly and almost took the lead just six minutes in as they looked to stamp their authority early.
Elliot Daly’s dazzling break saw him race through towards the 22, and he grubbered the ball ahead for the chasing Alex Lewington but it bounced kindly for Brive who could clear.
From the next attack they did go in front however, a penalty right in front of the posts was kicked by Owen Farrell to give his side a 3-0 lead.
They then flexed their muscles again and crossed for their first try with just 10 minutes gone to take the ascendancy. Brive, who were pinned right on their line looked to clear but Andy Christie charged it down brilliantly and collected it himself to dive over from close range. The conversion hit the post in the swirling wind, but Sarries were now 8-0 ahead.
The hosts then hit straight back however to get straight back in the match. Seta Tuicuvu was found in space 40 metres from the line, but he found the outside shoulder of a defender and raced away to the delight of the home crowd as they cut the deficit to three points.
Daly was then put through a hole in the defence for a second time as he ran on to a flat pass, and he once again stepped past a number of Brive players but his inside pass was fumbled.
Eroni Mawi made sure from the next chance though as he bundled over for try number two. Alex Goode made some space out wide after gathering a high ball, and then they patiently went through the phases before the Fijian snuck through the ruck from just a metre out. Farrell added the extras as the lead grew to 15-5.
Brive then looked to hit back again just like they did earlier in the half, but just as they were starting to threaten a brilliant turnover from Billy Vunipola earned his side a crucial penalty.
Nick Isiekwe then crossed just before half time as Sarries started to pull away. Mawi, who had made a great start carried strongly to within 10 metres, and then there was a huge overlap on the left which allowed Ivan van Zyl to pass straight to the England lock who could stroll over in acres of space. Farrell’s excellent touchline conversion made it 22-5 which is how it stayed until the break.
The bonus point arrived just 90 seconds after the restart as the rampant Londoners ensured they would take home all five points. Daly again danced through the defence and van Zyl was on his shoulder with a great support line, and once the pass arrived he was never going to be stopped from 20 metres out. The extras from Farrell pushed their lead out to 24 points.
Theo McFarland then looked like he had got number five as his dominant carry took him over the line, but he was held up and Brive got the goal line clearance.
Christie then eyed up another score as he bulldozed over a defender inside his own half and then used his impressive pace, but the hosts managed to drag him down and then the chance petered out.
Sarries then brought on the majority of their bench to inject further pace in to proceedings, and it made an instant impact as Ben Earl scored just seconds after coming on. McFarland’s strong carry took him to within touching distance of the line, and the Ruben de Haas fizzed the ball to Earl who could dot down under the posts.
Rotimi Según joined the party just after the hour to add further gloss to the scoreboard. He got his reward for a lively performance as Goode’s outstanding wide ball found the winger in all sorts of space and he could dive over in the corner.
Jamie George kept the try-scoring going with 10 minutes left, a never-ending phase where players were all over the place meant there was space everywhere, and Ben Harris drew in the final defender and allowed the hooker a clear run to the line.
Harris, who was hit hard by Alex Muller when releasing the ball stayed down for a brief period and the tackle resulted in a red card for Brive as their night got even worse.
Harris had the last laugh though, as he scored try number eight with four minutes left as the performance continued to flourish. Again there was plenty of space out wide, and the winger cut back inside the final defender to bring up the half century.
The clock then ticked down and the referee blew the final whistle, confirming a huge victory for Sarries who are now through to the knockout stages.