Saracens lead the pack in Pool Three of 2018/19 Champions Cup

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Saracens lead the pack in Pool Three of 2018/19 Champions Cup
CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 21: Jonny Gray of Glasgow Warriors celebrates scoring his sides fourth try during the Heineken Champions Cup Round 2 match between the Cardiff Blues and Glasgow Warriors at Cardiff Arms Park Stadium on October 21, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Round two of the Heineken Champions Cup gave fans another huge weekend of rugby. Here at Last Word on Rugby, our group of writers will cover all the results and the outcomes. Concentrating on Pool Three, Rhiannon Garth Jones looks at the results of round two, where Saracens lead the pack and Lyon seem rooted to the bottom.

Saracens lead the pack in Pool Three of 2018/19 Champions Cup

Round Two results: Saracens 29 Lyon OU 10

One win picked up on the road and now a bonus point victory at home for Saracens, despite the losses of both Vunipola brothers, Nick Isiekwe, and Alex Lozowski. Maro Itoje had a superb game, making more metres than anyone except wing Liam Williams. His break from the halfway line to score Saracens first try contributed to that stat but his all-round carrying was excellent.

Itoje was perhaps the best thing about this match, which was not one that fans will be reminiscing about in years gone by. “It was a scratchy, patchy performance,” said Mark McCall, the Saracens Director of Rugby.

“We’re quite disappointed with how we played”. On the other hand, perhaps most importantly for Saracens, there were no more injuries. Given how badly their campaign was derailed last season by injuries, that is a great result.

Lyon’s attack showed promise at times but they didn’t score their only try until 69 minutes were on the clock. It was clear during the game against Glasgow last week how much Saracens relish defending and it showed again in round two.

In defence, as in their effective attack, Saracens lead the pack in the 2018/19 Champions Cup.

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Cardiff Blues 12 Glasgow Warriors 29

Last Word on Rugby noted in the preview of Pool Three that Cardiff Blues can blow hot and cold. After a fantastic away win over Lyon in round one, the Welsh region demonstrated that, struggling to get into the game at home to their Pro14 rivals, Glasgow Warriors.

They were 12 points down after only three minutes. Lineouts went awry, passes went forward, and promising attacks rarely made it through the Warriors’ defence. Neither team was helped by a bizarre kit clash but Warriors were comfortably the better side.

Adam Hastings led the way for the Scottish side, proving that head coach Dave Rennie was right to put his faith in the youngster after Finn Russell’s departure. Hastings opened the scoring in the first minute and kicked a further nine points. His team-mates were equally clinical, earning a try bonus point after 67 minutes. Matt Fagerson also stood out, beating five defenders, making three clean breaks, and setting up a try for Johnny Gray.

Worse still for Blues, captain Ellis Jenkins left the field with an injury, having struggled after a knock he picked up before half-time. Jenkins ability to turnover the ball is crucial to Blues’ style of play and fans will be crossing their fingers it isn’t serious, as will Wales coach Warren Gatland.

Key Pool Three takeaways before next Round

“Saracens are here to win pool three, not just to play.”

After their win away to Warriors in round one, they won’t fear the trip to Cardiff or Lyon. Saracens lead the pack as things stand and it seems likely they will stay at the top of Pool Three.

French teams are notorious for not taking European competitions seriously, especially after a poor start. Given that, the Glasgow Warriors will be targeting two wins, in their upcoming double-header fixtures against Lyon.

Cardiff Blues meanwhile; having surrendered a precious home win, have back-to-back games against the mighty Saracens to work towards. Whether or not Jenkins is fit, that seems like a challenge beyond them. At this stage, Glasgow Warriors seem most likely to be challenging for a ‘best runner-up spot’ in the 2018/19 Champions Cup pool three.

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