A 10-minute hat-trick from Saracens winger Alex Lewington gave the visitors an ultimately comfortable win over Coventry Rugby at Butts Park Arena.
However it was another match of three quarters, as Cov were very much in the contest for the first 60 minutes before Saracens pulled away to seal the victory.
In many ways this was a mirror image of the reverse fixture at the StoneX Stadium six days previously, the one key difference being that while last week Cov were able to finish their chances they created in the five metre line, this week they only came away with two tries, a first half penalty try and an outstanding second half finish from Andy Forsyth.
Lewington’s trio of scores showcased his pace and eye for a supporting running line, but there was equal impact from the visitors’ pack. Not only were they able to shut down Cov’s red zone efforts, but they were able to create scores of their own.
Juan Pablo Socino, Tim Swinson and Vincent Koch all crashed over from close range, the latter making amends for his earlier yellow card which had also brought Cov’s penalty try.
That’s not to say it was one-way traffic, nor that the forwards dominated the contest.
Cov had some superb moments after conceding Socino’s try, mixing and matching their play and adapting nicely to the aggressive Saracens defence. They also set up camp a number of times in the visitors’ five-metre line, but while last week they had come away with three scores this week they were unable to complete the job as the visitors’ rearguard held firm, the penalty try aside.
The pack’s scrummaging was superb, too, and time and again they had the Saracens eight on the back foot.
Koch’s score came on the stroke of half-time, which meant – in another parallel to last week – that Saracens had given them breathing space going into the sheds.
But Cov reacted superbly after the break, Louis Brown’s superb break up the left wing putting the hosts in the position from which Forsyth would score in the right corner, the centre powering through four defenders in the last 10 metres.
The 12-21 scoreline this brought remained until the hour, but when Saracens replacement Joel Kpoku’s offload put Callum Hunter-Hill through a gap to eventually set up Tom Whiteley, the additional seven points gave the visitors some breathing space.
Then Lewington took over, all his tries coming in the final few minutes to add the gloss to the final score.
15 Louis Brown; 14 Rob Stevenson, 13 Andy Forsyth, 12 Tony Fenner, 11 Rob Knox; 10 Kieran Wilkinson, 9 Joe Snow; 1 Toby Trinder, 2 Nic Dolly, 3 James Harper, 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Adam Peters, 6 Senitiki Nayalo, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Ryan Burrows (capt)
Suva Ma’asi, Kai Owen, Phil Boulton, Cameron Jordan, Alex Woolford, Josh Barton, Will Owen, Louis James, Dan Lewis, Tom Hudson, Mario Pichardie
Tries – Penalty Try, Andy Forsyth
15 Elliott Obaotyinbo; 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Rotimi Segun; 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Aled Davies; 1 Richard Barrington, 2 Kapeli Pifeleti, 3 Vincent Koch, 4 Callum Hunter-Hill, 5 Tim Swinson, 6 Mike Rhodes, 7 Sean Reffell, 8 Jackson Wray (capt)
Sam Crean, Eroni Mawi, Alec Clarey, Joel Kpoku, Andy Christie, Tom Whiteley, Will Hooley, Ben Harris, Josh Hallett, Harry Sloan, Ollie Stoneham, Ralph Adams-Hale, Josh Ibuanokpe, Toby Knight, Ethan Benson
Tries – Juan Pablo Socino, Tim Swinson, Vincent Koch, Tom Whiteley, Alex Lewington (3). Cons – Manu Vunipola (6)
REFEREE George Selwood