Doncaster 15-50 Saracens: Owen Farrell returns to form in huge win as England stars step up for Sarries in their quest for promotion
- Aled Davies scored a brace for Sarries in the huge win at Doncaster Knights
- Win over Doncaster was Owen Farrell’s first club game since September
- Farrell claimed six points from three conversion before he was taken off
- Saracens third and 10 points behind Ealing Trailfinders who they play next week
Owen Farrell was praised for contributing ‘beautifully’ to this half-century Saracens win which enhances their promotion quest — on his first club game since September.
The England captain’s last domestic match saw him sent off for a dangerous tackle on Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson. Due to his Test commitments, this was his first outing in the Championship.
It didn’t go perfectly, as Farrell missed three first-half conversions, but after a grim Six Nations for the fly-half and the national team, this was a satisfying occasion in unfamiliar surroundings at Castle Park.
Owen Farrell was in inspired form for Saracens during their win over Doncaster Knights
When he was replaced in the 55th minute of this one-sided encounter, Farrell had claimed six points from three conversions and pulled the strings to set Saracens on their way to an easy victory over the previously unbeaten Knights.
The visitors’ skipper was central to their most fluent attacks, with a neat, astute low kick for Sean Maitland’s try and slick handling in the build-up to two fine scores by scrum-half Aled Davies.
Doncaster met Saracens’ physicality head-on and Farrell was involved in plenty of thunderous collisions. He notably flattened opposite number Sam Olver with a tackle that was deemed legitimate but enraged the Yorkshire club’s coaching staff, with one of them shouting ‘he almost took his head off’.
It was a trademark Farrell performance in front of Lions coaches Gregor Townsend and Steve Tandy — ahead of Warren Gatland’s squad announcement on May 6.
Saracens’ Aled Davies dives for a second half try despite the best efforts of Charlie Foley
They have probably seen enough already — both of his playing and leadership qualities. Farrell will make the cut, despite fierce criticism of his recent Test form.
His efforts yesterday drew emphatic praise from Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall, who said: ‘His last game was a long time ago, but it didn’t look like that today.
‘He was in control of everything out there. He got hit late a couple of times but reacted brilliantly. He didn’t get frustrated, he just got on with the next thing. He played really beautifully at times.
‘He missed a couple of kicks that he doesn’t normally miss, but I thought he played really well.’ He was not the only one of Saracens’ senior England contingent who stepped up, as both Vunipola brothers were central to this victory.
Billy Vunipola (left) was one of many England players that stepped up for Saracens
Billy in particular proved difficult to contain and he even unleashed a tactical kick at one stage.
Maro Itoje, another Lions certainty, followed last week’s brace with another try after some early lineout wobbles. And Elliot Daly delivered a glorious midfield break to set up Davies’s second try.
‘Our senior players were magic today,’ said McCall. ‘They’ve really embraced this new challenge for the club and you could see from their performances just how good they are.’
Saracens are third and 10 points behind Ealing Trailfinders — who visit north London next week — with a game in hand. Having summoned the cavalry, their push for the play-offs is back on track after the opening weekend loss at Cornish Pirates.
Saracens are third, and are hoping to make an immediate return to the Premiership
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