Sun, Dec 18, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Saracens end Ospreys’ 17-match unbeaten home run

AFP, PARIS

Trevise scrumhalf Tobias Botes, center, passes the ball during their European Cup match against Biarritz on Friday in Biarritz, France.

Photo: AFP

The Saracens edged closer to the European Cup quarter-finals on Friday with a gritty 16-13 victory over the Ospreys, which ended the Welsh side’s six-year, 17-match unbeaten home record in the tournament.

The win gave the English champions 14 points at the top of Pool 5, two ahead of Biarritz, who picked up a bonus-point 29-12 victory over Treviso while defeat virtually ended the Ospreys’ hopes of making the last eight.

In the night’s other match, Edinburgh defeated the Cardiff Blues 19-12 in Pool 2. Both sides are locked at the top on 13 points after the Welsh outfit collected a losing bonus point.

In a bad-tempered clash at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, Saracens center Owen Farrell and Ospreys flyhalf Dan Biggar exchanged two penalties apiece for 6-6 after 26 minutes.

However. a minute later, the English Premiership champions, who won the first match between the two sides 31-16 at Wembley last weekend, grabbed the only try of the first half.

An attempted clearance by Biggar was charged down by flyhalf Charlie Hodgson before No. 8 Ernst Joubert, who scored at Wembley, was fastest to the loose ball to touch down.

Farrell added the extras for a 13-6 lead which became 16-6 at the interval with another Farrell penalty awarded just after Ospreys prop Paul James had been yellow-carded.

Biggar missed a penalty early in the second half, before center Ashley Beck, who scored twice at Wembley, had a try ruled out by the video referee when he fell short of the line.

The Saracens were reduced to 14 men when South African hooker Schalk Brits was red-carded.

Moments after his return, lock forward Kelly Brown was also sin-binned for tripping Biggar.

The Ospreys, who were comfortably on top at that stage, made the one-man advantage count with veteran lock Ian Gough going over in the corner off a sweeping pass from Biggar in the 65th minute.

The flyhalf nailed the conversion to cut the Saracens’ lead to 16-13, but solid and tight defense saw the English side home.

In France, Biarritz came from 12-3 down against Treviso to run in four tries and clinch a 29-12 win. Dane Haylett-Petty, Arnaud Heguy, Wenceslas Lauret and Iain Balshaw all scored tries.

However, Biarritz’s win was overshadowed by No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy being forced off the field after just 22 minutes with a left knee injury.

Edinburgh avenged last week’s 25-8 loss to Cardiff with a 19-12 which ended the Welsh side’s perfect start to the competition.

Tim Visser’s first-half try and a 14-point haul from the boot of flyhalf Greig Laidlaw earned Edinburgh a third win from four matches to put them in with a chance of a first quarter-final appearance in eight years.

Dan Parks kicked three penalties for the Blues, who clinched a losing bonus point which could prove crucial when Leigh Halfpenny booted a 79th-minute penalty.

Cardiff opted against handing a debut to center Gavin Henson, but five of the team’s World Cup players did start the game.

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