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Bordeaux crush Saracens in Champions Cup as Bielle-Biarrey and García shine
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Bordeaux crush Saracens in Champions Cup as Bielle-Biarrey and García shine

The light is dying on Saracens’ dynasty. There was a little bit of early raging against it here, some bloody mindedness in the face of concerted dominance from a Bordeaux side who highlighted their title credentials, but the journey is nearly at an end for what was not so long ago one of the great domestic sides of the modern era.

Bordeaux beat up Saracens, then spread their wings with Louis Bielle-Biarrey scoring twice and rubbed their opponents’ faces in it. That Alex Goode waited for the clock to go red before taking his conversion at the death made it plain for all to see that Saracens just wanted to be put out of their misery.

For Bordeaux it was an awesome performance and one that Harlequins, who they meet in the quarter-finals, will have been watching from behind the sofa. Not only did they dump out the three-times champions but they highlighted the considerable gulf in class between the cream of the crop on either side of the Channel.

Owen Farrell was absent with a hamstring injury but in attendance at the Stade Chaban-Delmas – a penny for his thoughts as his Champions Cup involvement with Saracens came to a disappointing end. Truth be told, there was little he could have done on the pitch but such is his warrior spirit that he would have been desperate to be in the thick of it, fighting against the tide.

He is not the only club stalwart moving on in the summer, the Vunipola brothers appear to be off too, and Mark McCall has repeatedly said this season that it is time for a refresh. Perhaps the best way to describe this defeat is the perfect evidence of why. Saracens are an ageing team in need of a refit. They ran into a Bordeaux side who were also missing their talismanic fly-half in Matthieu Jalibert but had too much power, too much skill for their opponents, even with five tries disallowed in the first half.

They ultimately finished with six and left their supporters in raptures in this delightful relic of a stadium plonked in the middle of Bordeaux. It turned 100 years old last month and the Bordeaux faithful are evidently still celebrating because it was shaking to the core throughout.

Credit Saracens for their defensive resilience in the first half, credit Theo McFarland for the way that he dug in but such was Bordeaux’s ascendancy that Saracens offered almost nothing in attack in the first half and not a great deal in the second.

In fairness, they had come more in hope than expectation. Hope that the final chapter in this competition has not yet been written. Farrell’s absence came as an obvious setback but Jalibert is every bit as important to Bordeaux and while at times they looked as if they were playing another sport entirely in their 55-15 pool stage win over Saracens in January, the suspicion was that they had slipped off the boil.

The manner in which they began put paid to that theory. Maxime Lucu darted through a gap on Saracens’ 22 and kicked ahead for Bielle-Biarrey to set about the chase. The France winger got there but could not quite ground the ball and Saracens had a reprieve. They had plenty more in the first half. Bordeaux’s fierce counter-rucking was making yards all the more hard to come by for Saracens but with McFarland’s aerial prowess and after Alex Lewington’s 50:22 they enjoyed a rare foray into their opponents’ 22 and might have scored the opening try had Goode’s clever grubber sat up for either Ben Earl or Lewington.

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García celebrates scoring a try for rampant Bordeaux in their one-sided victoryView image in fullscreen

The Saracens dam finally burst three minutes before the break, shortly after Maro Itoje had been shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, with Mateo García diving over after a smart break from Romain Buros. He had another soon after the restart after a stunning pass from Tevita Tatafu, just as the No 8 was falling into touch, and Nicolas Depoortère added the third try around the hour mark.

Bielle-Biarrey scampered away and under the posts for another and Depoortère raced over for his second before Lewington’s consolation score for Saracens but the 20-year-old soon had his third. Tom Willis’s late try came against his former club but will not be particularly memorable given the circumstances.

Source: theguardian.com