Wanderers’ final hopes dashed by Saracens at Gardens

Will Hooley
Will Hooley

The Wanderers missed out on a place in the A-League final as Saracens mounted a second-half surge to win 33-23 at Franklin’s Gardens on Monday night.

Saints’ second string had gone in 13-10 up at the break thanks to a try from Ethan Waller and the assured kicking of Will Hooley.

But Sarries came roaring back and booked their spot in next Monday’s showpiece thanks to scores from James Short, who added to his first-half try, Duncan Taylor and Sam Stanley.

Former Saint Nils Mordt added 13 points with the boot to secure the success.

Wanderers did grab two late consolation tries as Scott Armstrong and Anders Mogensen got their names on the scoresheet, but it was to be too little too late.

Yet the home side had started the game so well, giving Saracens no chance to get out of their own half, and a spell of early pressure provided Hooley with a penalty.

The fly-half struck the ball sweetly to give his team the lead and he was at it again moments later, converting Waller’s try after the prop pushed his way over the line.

Saracens registered their first points on 17 minutes as Mordt made his penalty attempt from in front of the posts.

The visiting 10 was to miss his next effort, but after the ball came back off the upright the ball was worked wide to Short, who dived over.

Mordt converted well and the scores were level at 10-10, but it wasn’t to stay that way for long as Hooley slotted his second penalty of the night for the Wanderers.

Saracens were getting some stern advice from a member of coaching staff wearing a Santa hat, but they weren’t receiving much Christmas spirit from the Wanderers.

Mordt missed the chance to again level the scores with a penalty and Noah Cato dished out a big hit to ensure Sarries were stopped in their tracks before the break.

But it didn’t take long for the away side to cross the try line after half-time as Taylor put the finshing touches to a spell of concerted pressure.

Mordt missed the conversion but was more successful with a penalty in front of the posts just a minute later, tightening his side’s grip on the game in the process.

And they had a real stranglehold soon after as Short darted over for his second try of the night.

The extras weren’t added but Saracens had the showpiece in sight with a 10-point lead under their belts.

Hooley, who had kicked so well previously, missed a chance to get his men back to within seven and that was to be his last action as Sam Olver was introduced from the bench.

Mordt added more points to the Sarries tally with a well-executed drop goal and it was to get worse for the Wanderers as Cato was sin-binned for not rolling away.

Sarries’ fly-half skewed the resulting penalty wide of the posts but they soon put the game out of sight as Stanley dotted down following a fumble by Vasily Artemyev.

Mordt converted and Artemyev was soon replaced, looking glum as he trudged off down the touchline.

There was to be some late joy for the Wanderers as they finally registered some second-half points through Armstrong, who flew over following a quick counter-attack.

And Mogensen also got his name on the scoresheet, dotting down after a good offload from replacement scrum-half Ryan Glynn.

But it wasn’t to be enough as Saracens progressed to next Monday’s A final, where they will meet Harlequins.

Wanderers: Cato; Artemyev (Mogensen 66), Stephenson, Burrell, Armstrong; Hooley (Olver 60), Day (Glynn 64) ; E Waller (Hobbs 60), McMillan (Williams 40), Herriott (Morley 74); Woolford (Dyer 66), Sorenson (Hicks 54); Oakley, Nutley, Hopley.

Saracens: Ransom; Taylor, Stanley, Ratuvou (Tompkins 72), Short (Earle 72); Mordt, Spencer (Baldwin 64); Auterac (Fearn 72), George (Crumpton 70), Romano (Du Plessis 40); Rae (Itoje 66), Sheriff, Fenton-Wells, Saull (Hankin 28), Ross.

Referee: Steve Lee

Attendance: 1,172