Back on home turf and, on the field at least, business as usual for Saracens. Six tries, a handful of World Cup stars returning – including an impressive debut for Elliot Daly – and a demonstration that they will not give up their European crown without a considerable fight. This emphatic victory kick-starts Saracens’ campaign on the continent and tees up a mouth-watering double header with Munster next month.
Rotimi Segun finished with two tries, Jack Singleton, Alex Lewington, Richard Barrington all one apiece with Saracens awarded a penalty try to boot but it was Daly who shone brightest on his first appearance. He teed up two tries for Segun and was the standout performer but the very fact the defending champions have added England’s full-back to their already illustrious squad hardly leads to much sympathy for their plight amid the salary-cap scandal that hangs heavy over the club.
Saracens elected to leave Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje out of their matchday 23 but this was demonstration of their strength in depth, in contrast to the lack of reserves available to the Ospreys. The visitors have been hit hard by injuries – Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Gareth Anscombe and George North heading a list of notable absentees – and as much as the XV selected stuck to the task, this was always likely to be a routine victory for Saracens given they had nine internationals in their starting lineup.
It was a scrappy start, notable only for just how quiet it was at Allianz Park in their first outing here since being hit with a £5.4m fine and a 35-point deduction in the Premiership. Saracens supporters are not always the most vocal but you had to wonder whether the off-field controversies had shaken their fans’ belief. The players may be attempting to foster an us-versus-the-world attitude but on this evidence it has yet to spill on to the stands.
Daly opened the scoring, on target with a penalty beyond Manu Vunipola’s range and the 19-year-old fly-half added another closer in soon after. Daly had a hand in Saracens’ opening try too, gathering James Hook’s overcooked high kick, peeling to the right wing and releasing Jackson Wray, who in turn found Ben Earl on the right wing. The flanker was stopped short by the covering Owen Watkin but the Ospreys were forced into conceding a lineout deep in their own 22. Nick Isiekwe gathered Singleton’s throw and the England hooker was soon over in the right corner.
Hook put the Ospreys on the board with a penalty before Saracens’ second try, which had a touch of fortune to it – Vunipola’s return pass to Tom Whiteley was off target but the scrum-half hacked the ball across field to Daly on the volley. Daly seized the opening ruthlessly, releasing Segun on the right to race clear. Segun then turned provider for Saracens’ third – the returning captain Brad Barritt delaying his pass delightful for the right wing, who shipped on to Lewington in the left corner.
Saracens lost Titi Lamositele to injury just before half-time, the tighthead prop clutching his left elbow as he made way, but they secured the bonus point seven minutes into the second half – Segun arcing is way to the try-line after a clever offload from Daly. After a flurry of replacements which saw Saracens introduce Richard Wigglesworth and Jamie George, they had their fifth try when the referee Mathieu Raynal wasted little time in running to the posts after the home side turned the screw at a close-range scrum and Barrington barrelled over soon after to complete the rout.