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Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Sunday, 9 January 2011

Saracens 12-6 London Irish

Saracens (6) 12
Pens: Farrell 4
London Irish (6) 6
Pens: Malone 2

Owen Farrell
Farrell spent time on loan at Bedford this season

Owen Farrell kicked all 12 points as Saracens inflicted a 10th defeat in a row on London Irish as Brendan Venter's last game in charge ended in a win.

The first half was level at 6-6 with Farrell and Chris Malone kicking two penalties each, although both hit the post with earlier efforts.

After the break, Farrell kicked two more penalties for a six-point victory.

Saracens are now second in the table, level on points with Northampton, but have played two games more.

The Vicarage Road side are now six points behind Premiership leaders Leicester but Irish, without a win since 31 October, are down to seventh.

Saracens began with purpose but Farrell missed two kicks in the first 11 minutes, hitting the near post with his first chance and then the other one four minutes later.

Farrell finally saw an effort fly the right side of the post in the 22nd minute, but this seemed to jolt the visitors into action.

In their first noteworthy attack, Malone kicked over following a penalty for offside 12 minutes before the break, and five minutes later he was successful again after a ruck offence.

Farrell then levelled with his second successful kick of the afternoon, before Malone hit the post on the stroke of half-time.

Irish began the second half with purpose but missed two potential scoring opportunities, first with a knock-on and then a penalty conceded at the scrum.

Malone had a chance to put Irish ahead for the second time after tempers flared in the 55th minute but his effort sailed wide, and he was made to pay with 15 minutes remaining as Farrell kicked his third successful penalty.

Farrell increased the lead to six points when Malone was penalised for not releasing, and Gavin Henson made another cameo appearance off the bench for the hosts in the last five minutes.

Despite the visitors having some late pressure in the home side's 22, the Saracens defence held firm to ensure Venter's reign ended with a victory against his former club.

Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter:
"The problem at Saracens was too much chopping and changing. We have a five-year plan in place and it is ongoing.

"I may no longer be rugby director, but I'll be in telephone contact regularly, and I will be flying back to England regularly to attend games.

"Irish are a good side, very organised, and they never lose badly, it's always just by a few points.

"If you look at our fly-half, Owen Farrell, he is going to be special, and that really excites me."

Irish head coach Toby Booth:
"That's miles closer to ending this run. The Premiership is tough, and you have to work very hard.

"You need energy and intensity to put things right and we have displayed that in the last three games.

"If you look at the statistics from this game for both teams, the error count, the missed penalties, the turnovers, all virtually the same. That means that games as tight as this turn on little breaks."

Saracens: Goode; Strettle, Tagicakibau, Barritt, Short; Farrell, Wigglesworth; Carstens, Brits, Nieto; Borthwick (capt), Botha; Burger, Saull, K Brown.

Replacements: Henson for Barritt (75), Gill for Carstens (51), George for Brits (68), Du Plessis for Nieto (62), Vyvyan for Botha (51), Joubert for K Brown (62).
Not Used: Barrett, Ransom.

London Irish: Malone; Ojo, Seveali'i, Mapusua, Taicakibau; Bowden, Hodgson (capt); Corbisiero, Buckland, Rautenbach; Kennedy, Garvey; Thorpe, Armitage, Stowers.

Replacements: Lamb for Bowden (64), Allinson for Hodgson (62), Dermody for Corbisiero (68), Ion for Rautenbach (62), Hala'ufia for Stowers (62).
Not Used: Blaney, Casey, Thompstone.

Ref: David Rose (RFU).

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see also
Guscott's predictions
09 Jan 11 |  English
Mapusua future remains uncertain
06 Jan 11 |  London Irish
Sale 28-22 Saracens
02 Jan 11 |  English
London Irish 24-25 Bath
01 Jan 11 |  English

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