Jan 27 2013
London Irish still have every chance of qualifying for the semi-finals of the LV= Cup after a convincing 46-24 victory over Worcester at the Madejski Stadium.
Marland Yarde was the star performer with a hat-trick of tries while Halani Aulika collected a brace of scores, Alex Gray crossed over one and Tom Homer kicked 16 points in a deserved win for the hosts.
Worcester scored three second-half tries through Danny Gray - who also kicked over a conversion and a penalty - David Lemi and James Percival but, after trailing 22-3 at the break, they had little hope of getting anything out of the game. Andy Goode added the extras for the away side.
Irish's win puts them top of Pool Three and they travel to Cardiff for their final game next Friday knowing a bonus-point win would guarantee their berth in the next round.
For Worcester, the defeat virtually extinguishes their hopes of progressing as they are now bottom of Pool Two with five points and stand little chance of overhauling the teams above them.
The artificial pitch at Saracens' new £24million Allianz Park home passed its first test as they recorded a 19-11 victory over Cardiff Blues in a tie that also witnessed the successful return of England full-back Alex Goode.
Goode, making his first appearance in five weeks, played 56 minutes and emerged unscathed after being dropped on his problematic left shoulder by a tackle from Owen Williams.
The first try arrived in the 36th minute when number eight Robin Copeland pinched the ball at a Saracens lineout 15 metres out and headed for the line, riding a couple of tackles as he crashed over. The preceding half an hour had been uneventful with Nils Mordt and Ceri Sweeney swapping penalties and also missing one apiece, ensuring the Blues led 8-6 at the interval.
Killing the ball at a ruck earned prop Sam Hobbs time in the sin-bin and Mordt punished the infringement with his third penalty. Substitute Gareth Davies kicked the Blues to within a point with 10 minutes to go, but his fellow replacement Thomas Young was yellow carded in a lively finish.
Saracens landed the killer blow in the closing moments when rampaging centre Duncan Taylor squirted a pass out to wing James Short who crossed, with Mordt converting.