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14-man Saracens grind out Racing win to put themselves in frame for European quarter-finals

The victory came at an – ahem – cost, with Billy Vunipola forced off with a reported broken arm.

Maro Itoje touches down for Sarries.
Maro Itoje touches down for Sarries.
Image: Adam Davy

Saracens 27 

Racing 24

LESS THAN A day after their relegation from the Premiership was confirmed, 14-man Saracens dug deep to beat Racing 27-24 at Allianz Park, putting themselves in contention for a Champions Cup quarter-final place with the kind of determined performance worthy of a doff of their critics’ (salary) cap. 

The defending champions will set up a last-eight clash with Leinster at the Aviva Stadium unless Gloucester can rack up a big win away to Toulouse – either winning with a bonus point or a win which overturns a 12-point differential. 

Sarries raced into a 14-0 lead through tries from Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola, before Vakatawa hit back with a try for already-qualified Racing. An Owen Farrell penalty pushed Sarries a further three points ahead before a Dupichot try cut the gap to three points. The visitors then hit the front by four points with a second Vakatawa try just after the half-hour mark, and Sarries woes deepened before half-time when Will Skelton saw red for a high tackle on Dulin. 

Itoje scored a second try of his own early in the second half to level the scores at 24 apiece, the final score of the game until Owen Farrell nervelessly converted a match-winning penalty three minutes from the end after a sustained period of pressure on the Racing line. 

The win came at an -ahem – cost for Sarries, with Billy Vunipola taken off with an injury reported to be a broken arm, which would greatly curtail his involvement in this year’s Six Nations. 

 

 

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Gavin Cooney

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