Connacht suffered their worst ever Heineken Cup defeat today when Saracens ran in 11 unanswered tries at Allianz Park to secure their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

It was a positive start for Pat Lam’s men with outhalf Dan Parks putting Connacht ahead inside five minutes with a penalty kick from 40 metres out. Saracens responded swiftly with their first try of the afternoon through their winger Chris Ashton who dived over in the corner, on a pass from Charlie Hodgson. The former England outhalf was instrumental throughout the game but had difficulty from the kicking tee and missed this first conversion attempt.

On 20 minutes, Parks bumped Connacht back into the lead with a penalty kick when Saracens were penalised for being off their feet.

But it wasn’t long until the hosts, with their powerful runners, were in for try number two, their centre David Strettle crossing in the corner.

With three minutes remaining in the first half, prop Nathan White was sin-binned as the TMO ruled ‘reckless use of the boot at a ruck’. An efficient driving maul from the resulting lineout allowed hooker Schalk Brits to get over for a late try. With Hodgson missing his third conversion, there was still only 12 points between the sides at the break.

Half time score:  Saracens 18 – 6 Connacht

The second half saw the floodgates open as Saracens were allowed to score twice in the opening 10 minutes, the second of which saw England full back Alex Goode take advantage of a poor Connacht kick to counter attack and run in untouched from 50 metres out.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors as a superior Saracens side ran in try after try to cement their record as the highest try-scorers in the European competition.

Strettle completed his hat-trick with a clever chip through before Ashton finished off the game with his second try on 80 minutes.

Full time score: Saracens 64 – 6 Connacht 

Speaking after the game, Head Coach Pat Lam said:

“Obviously it’s disappointing and we’re not proud of ourselves. Especially in that second half. But these sort of things happen in rugby. Momentum builds, you fall off tackles and collisions. A missed tackle costs us badly, a dropped pass costs us badly, missing the lineout costs us badly. Effectively, it all happened at once.

“We have to get ourselves off the deck now. After days like this, it’s about what you do afterwards.

 “They are some proud boys in there and they’re hurting badly. They know they’ve let our fans down. We now have to get back up. That’s life; you face these challenges, every rugby player has. It’s not nice at the time but it’s what you do from here that really counts.”

Saracens: A Goode; C Ashton, D Taylor (Wyles), B Barritt, D Strettle; C Hodgson (O Farrell), R Wigglesworth (N de Kock); M Vunipola (R Barrington), S Brits (J George), M Stevens (J Johnston); S Borthwick (c), G Kruis (A Hargreaves); B Vunipola, K Brown (J Wray), E Joubert.

Connacht: G Duffy; F Carr (P O’Donohoe), R Henshaw (D Leader), E Griffin, M Healy; D Parks (J Carty), K Marmion; B Wilkinson (D Buckley), S Henry (J Harris-Wright), N White (R Ah You); M Swift (M Kearney), C Clarke; A Browne, J Heenan (G Naoupu).

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