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Saracens well-placed to progress as Schalk Brits inspires 30-13 victory over Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup
Schalk Brits masterminded an imperious Saracens first half display in Brussels which laid the platform for a convincing 30-13 victory over Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup.
With Brits mysteriously replaced early in the second period Mark McCall's team faded as the match went on but the damage had already been done.
Saracens' peripatetic hosting of matches this season has shown few negative symptoms so far and their first half performance in the Stade Roi Baudouin had all the hallmarks of regular home comforts.
A confident, creative and at times classy Saracens put Metro to the sword with ease early on and in doing so they were allowed to demonstrate those expansive qualities that have been lacking in so many of their matches this season.
Olly Barkley's penalty put Metro ahead within two minutes but that was the first and last time Metro led the contest.
The opening quarter of an hour was played almost exclusively in the French side's half and Saracens' primary fault was that they were, if anything, too eager.
Brits was popping up in everything good about Saracens' play and the South African hooker was first to cross the line too, but was held up.
With their first meaningful attack of the match Metro were unfortunate not to score themselves as Fabrice Estebanez's well-placed kick bobbled beyond the try line before skipping up and out of reach of the chasing Benjamin Fall.
Saracens though continued to dictate, and Charlie Hodgson drew level with a penalty before, in the 21st minute, the breakthrough came.
Brits was again involved, breaking through the gain line before skilfully offloading to Chris Wyles who cruised over for the first try of the match on his 100th appearance for the club.
Sarries smelt blood, experimenting with various attacking combinations and relishing their ascendancy.
On the half hour mark Steve Borthwick drove over, before two more Hodgson penalties - one resulting in Metro flanker Bernard Le Roux being sin binned - extended Saracens' advantage to 20-3 at the break.
McCall's side lost their momentum in the early stages of the second half with too many players more focused on taking care of needless individual scuffles, than continued possession of the ball.
Lacking the rhythm of the first period, Saracens allowed Metro hope when Juan Imhoff combined well with Juan Martin Hernandez before finding Estebanez inside to make it 23-10.
Alex Goode was again inventive at full back, doing his England prospects no harm at all, but with Brits replaced, Saracens drifted.
As the travelling supporters' attention wandered towards a Mexican wave or two, Saracens jolted out of their malaise for one last foray forward.
Hodgson capped another cultured performance with a diagonally angled run, opening the gap for Will Fraser to breeze through for the final score of the match.
The victory was no more than McCall's men deserved, if not only for their authoritative first half display, but on the Eurostar home tomorrow there may be a tinge of regret that a languid second half means they take four, rather than five points back to north London.
With two games gone and nine points gained though Saracens are certainly in a commanding position to progress.
Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Farrell, Barritt, Wyles; Hodgson, de Kock; Gill, Brits, Stevens, Borthwick (capt), Botha, Brown, Fraser, Wray.
Replacements: Vunipola for Gill (41), Wigglesworth for de Kock (51), Hargreaves for Botha (53), Smit for Brits (55), Strettle for Wyles (59), Nieto for Stevens (60), Saull for Brown (64), Tomkins for Farrell (69).
Racing Metro 92: Hernandez; Fall, Bergamasco, Estebanez, Imhoff; Barkley, Machenaud; Lo Cicero, Szarzewski, Ducalcon, Ghezal, Van der Merwe, Battut, Le Roux, Cronje (capt).
Replacements: Germain for Barkley (41), Metz for van der Merwe (41), Ben Arous for Lo Cicero (48), Matadigo for Le Roux (50), Noirot for Szarzewski (57), Jane for Fall (60), Orlandi for Ducalcon (63).
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
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