SARACENS ran riot in the second-half at chilly Vicarage Road to kill off Worcester Warriors’ LV= Cup hopes for another season.
Warriors took a one-point lead into half-time thanks to scores from Sam Betty and Tom Arscott, but the hosts soon showed their class, running in 28 unanswered points.
However, the early signs were promising for Warriors as Kiwi number eight Blair Cowan won an early penalty.
Inside-centre Joe Carlisle struck the post with his effort, but it wasn’t long before Worcester were on the scoreboard.
On four minutes, scrum-half Jonny Arr drew in the defence and sent hooker Chris Fortey through a gap and the veteran off-loaded to blindside Betty, who charged over for his first try for the club. Carlisle added the extras.
The hosts hit back on eight minutes with a penalty from fly-half Nils Mordt after Warriors went off-side as World Cup-winning hooker John Smit was just held up short of the line.
With Sarries turning up the heat, Worcester began to leak penalties and Mordt soon slotted another effort to make it 7-6.
The visitors relieved the pressure though with a moment of individual brilliance from Arscott.
Pouncing on a dropped Saracens pass, the winger chipped into space, gathered and handed off Michael Tagicakibau before sprinting in under the posts. Carlisle’s conversion made it 14-6.
That was as good as it got for the men from Sixways, though, as the home side continued to run the ball from everywhere and drew infringements on a regular basis, which saw them kick to the corners.
A driving line-out was just halted, but former Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer was on hand to dart over the line and Mordt added the extras to bring Sarries back to within a point.
Mordt missed the chance to give Sarries the lead for the first time with a 55th-minute penalty, but the hosts then woke up and ran in four tries in the next 17 minutes.
Firstly, Warriors crucially lost their own ball at the line-out and Sarries capitalised with a score from Justin Melck with Mordt’s conversion making it 20-14.
Worcester needed to regroup, but a poor pass from Chris Pennell was easily picked off by former Wigan rugby league star Joel Tomkins, who gratefully cantered over for the first of his two debut tries.
The quickfire double shattered the visitors’ confidence and wing Josh Drauniniu dithered in his own 22 and dropped the ball, which was pounced upon by Sarries and fired out to Tomkins, who slid over in the corner.
A powerful driving line-out on 76 minutes saw Sarries’ young captain Jamie George forced over the line and Mordt slotted the extra points from out wide to round of a stirring second-half display by the reigning Aviva Premiership champions.
For pictures, ratings, reaction and more, see tomorrow morning’s Worcester News.