The Wanderers ran in six tries as they saw off Saracens Storm with a 49-31 victory in front of a 1,500 strong crowd at Franklin’s Gardens to secure their place in the Aviva ‘A’ League Final.
Tries from Tom Kessell, Nafi Tuitavake, Charlie Clare and Rory Hutchinson as well as a double score from Juan Pablo Estelles and 19 points from the boot of Sam Olver sealed the Wanderers their third Aviva 'A' League final in four years.
An overthrown Saracens lineout in the game's opening minutes got the Wanderers in contention as Estelles slinked down the right wing. A penalty to the Wanderers found them with an attacking lineout in Saracens’ 22. Olver stepped off and took the drop goal to put the Wanderers in front on 10 minutes.
Max Malins had a chance to level things minutes later but he, like Olver with an early penalty attempt, sent his first kick at goal wide. His side soon earned him another shot, however, but this one also sailed right of the posts.
Saracens pushed up with their attack and patience saw them over the line through Henry Taylor, Malins sent his conversion wide however.
A mis-judged kick from the away side saw the Wanderers first try. After Malins’ efforts went dead despite a valiant chase, the Wanderers took the resulting lineout cleanly and Tom Kessell dinked off the back to dart over the line. Olver duly added the extras.
Saracens attacked on the 30-minute mark and a break from Taylor through the mid-field found Dominic Morris metres from the line. The centre trotted in and dotted down for Saracens’ second.
The Wanderers collected their own restart, however, and strength from Ben Nutley got them back within Saracens’ 22. A clever offload to Nafi Tuitavake saw the centre over to put the home side back ahead with Olver’s conversion.
On the stroke of half time Saracens earned Malins another shot at the posts. The fly-half, too, sent this one wide to see the Wanderers lead by five at the break.
The Wanderers earned a penalty almost immediately on the restart and Olver sent his placekick directly through the uprights before the home side earned a string of penalties and attacking lineouts, the last of which they mauled over the whitewash for Charlie Clare to dot down at the base.
A brilliant link up between Tom Collins and Tuitavake on the left wing set up the Wanderers’ next try. The ball came right for Christian Day and beautiful hands from the lock found Estelles in space out wide for the score. Olver, again, converted.
Saracens hit back straight away, however, with Alistair Crossdale crossing the line in the next run of play. Malins’ conversion closed the gap to twelve.
Olver lined up for another penalty on the stroke of the final quarter and converted the kick to see the Wanderers two converted scores ahead.
Another beautliful run down the left wing, this time from Rory Hutchinson, set up Estelles’ second score of the night in another well-worked left to right move from the Wanderers. Olver, once again, converted from the touchline.
Saracens responded immediately again, though, sending Nathan Earle over the whitewash just moments later.
The Wanderers scored another try in the 72 minute, this time sending Hutchinson over from close range after good pressure from the home side. Olver sent another conversion through to see the Wanderers lead by 23 with eight to play.
Despite a win being off the cards, a blistering run from Crossdale down the wing saw his second of the night and a consolation score for Saracens as the clock showed just two minutes left to play and Malins’ missed conversion kept the Wanderers lead well into double figures.
Despite a few re-set scrums eventually the referee blew his whistle for the full time and confirmed the Wanderers’ place in the Aviva ‘A’ League Final.
The Final will take place at Franklin’s Gardens next Monday (May 1st) with a probable kick off of 3pm. Keep an eye on our channels for confirmation of this.
WANDERERS Wilson; Estelles, Tuitavake, Hutchinson, Collins, Olver, Kessell; Ma’afu, Clare, Denman, Paterson, Day, Nutley, Ludlam, Dickinson
Subs – Fish, Waller, Ilnicki, Onojaife, Allman, Mitchell, Grayson, Pisi
SARACENS Earle; Crossdale, Gallagher, Morris, Ellery, Malins, Taylor; Thompson-Stringer, Saunders, Alexis, Lemalu, Isiekwe, Nay, Spurling, Earl
Subs – Lindsay, Adams-Hale, Hughes, Flanagan, Conlon, de Kock, Sharp, Obitiyombo
10 mins WANDERERS Drop Goal Olver 3-0
18 mins SARACENS Try Taylor 3-5
26 mins WANDERERS Try Kessell Con Olver 10-5
31 mins SARACENS Try Morris Con Malins 10-12
35 mins WANDERERS Try Tuitavake Con Olver 17-12
HALF TIME WANDERERS 17 SARACENS 12
41 mins WANDERERS Pen Olver 20-12
46 mins WANDERERS Try Clare 25-12
52 mins WANDERERS Try Estelles Con Olver 32-12
55 mins SARACENS Try Crossdale Con Malins 32-19
62 mins WANDERERS Pen Olver 35-19
67 mins WANDERERS Try Estelles Con Olver 42-19
69 mins SARACENS Try Earle Con Malins 42-26
72 mins WANDERERS Try Hutchinson Con Olver 49-26
78 mins SARACENS Try Crossdale 49-31
FULL TIME WANDERERS 49 SARACENS 31