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BBC Five Live
Ian Robertson reports from Vicarage Road.
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Cardiff's Pieter Muller
"Our defence was great and we fought all the way"
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BBC Wales' Nick Webb
Match report
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Rob Howley and Pieter Muller
Cardiff's try-scoring heroes give their views on the game
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banner Friday, 20 October, 2000, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Saracens stunned by Blue and Blacks
Craig Quinnell and Robbie Russell are sent to the sin bin
Craig Quinnell and Robbie Russell are sent to the sin bin
Heineken Cup, Pool Three
Saracens 23-32 Cardiff

Cardiff revived their hopes of qualifying for the quarter finals with a vital away victory at one of the tournament favourites.

Thrusting off mid-week criticism of the coaching, they produced an improved forward game and four excellent tries.

Two Cardiff tries on the stroke of half-time left the fancied Saracens in tatters.

The first-half had been a messy, enthralling affair, littered with mistakes, fights and controversy.

As early as the fifth minute Thomas Castaignede, the darling of the home crowd, was sin binned for preventing a Cardiff quick penalty.

Rob Howley and Tony Diprose exchange blows
Rob Howley and Tony Diprose exchange blows
Craig Quinnell and Robert Russell were soon cooling their heels alongside him after a mass brawl erupted near the Cardiff line.

Neil Jenkins benefited most from the early spate of penalties and he also converted an Andrew Lewis try, brought about after excellent driving play, to give the visitors a 13-3 lead.

Self abuse

Saracens battled back with some strong forward play, but two self-inflicted blows just before half-time took Cardiff away.

Both came after Scotland international lock Scott Murray had been sin binned for over-rigorous rucking.

First, mishandling between Sparg and Richard Hill resulted in the ball falling into the grateful hands of Rob Howley.

He sprinted down the wing and over for a converted try.

Moments later Duncan McRae tried a drop goal from near half way.

The Blue and Blacks' dynamic flanker Dan Baugh charged it down, regathered and sprinted to near the try line.

The ball was recycled, allowing Craig Quinnell to use his bulk to blast through the remaining defenders.

Shambolic

The shambolic display of the home side continued in the second half. Jenkins missed a 41st-minute penalty chance, and 10 minutes later Gareth Thomas was only denied a fine try in the corner by a desperate Castaignede tackle.

With confidence growing the Blue and Blacks began to put together some beautiful moves. Jamie Robinson broke through at the end of one outstanding attack before off-loading to man-of-the-match Pieter Muller for Cardiff's fourth try.

The game seemed beyond Saracens, but in front of the baying crowd they produced a stirring final 10 minutes.

A Kevin Sorrell try was followed by the sin-binning of Emyr Lewis.

With a man down the Cardiff scrum was disrupted and Bracken sniped over for another try.

Any fears of a Cardiff collapse were ended by some big hits from the inspiring Baugh, though, who helped give his team-mates the energy to see it through to the final whistle.

Howley

After the game Rob Howley told Nick Mullins how much the victory meant:

"To come here and win away from home is everything," he said.

He added that it ranked amongst the real high points of his illustrious career.

Both Howley and Muller stressed the importance of next week's return match in Cardiff in deciding the fate of the group.


Scorers - Saracens: Tries: K Sorrell, K Bracken; Cons: T Castaignede (2); Pens: D McRae (2), Castaignede

Cardiff: Tries: A Lewis, R Howley, C Quinnell, P Muller; Cons: N Jenkins (3); Pens: Jenkins (2)

Teams

Saracens: Castaignede, Sparg, Johnson, Sorrell, Luger, McRae, Bracken, Flatman, Russell, Wallace, Murray, Grewcock, Chesney, Hill, Diprose
Replacements: Roche, Cairns, Davison, Phillips, Arasa, Walshe, O'Mahony

Cardiff: R Williams, N Walne, J Robinson, P Muller, G Thomas, N Jenkins, R Howley, A Lewis, J Humphreys, S John, C Quinnell, M Voyle, D Baugh, M Williams, E Lewis
Replacements: K Ellis, C Morgan, O Williams, G Kacala, W Fyvie, G Powell, D Geraghty

Referee: J Jutge (Italy)

Att: 10,824

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See also:

18 Oct 00 |  Heineken Cup
Rogers and Horan out of Heineken Cup
14 Oct 00 |  Heineken Cup
Cardiff too good for Toulouse
15 Oct 00 |  Northern Ireland
Saracens too strong for Ulster
21 Oct 00 |  Photo Galleries
Heineken Cup - in pictures
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