Joel Tomkins shows his potential in Saracens win over Worcester

Saracens 41-14 Worcester
Joel Tomkins Saracens Worcester
Joel Tomkins, right, scores his second try for Saracens in the 40-14 defeat of Worcester. Photograph: Paul Harding/Action Images
Joel Tomkins, right, scores his second try for Saracens in the 40-14 defeat of Worcester. Photograph: Paul Harding/Action Images
at Vicarage Road
Sun 29 Jan 2012 13.55 EST

Saracens may still need a minor miracle to progress in this minor competition, but they left Watford on Sunday night confident that at least one of their costly signings appears to be money well spent. Joel Tomkins, soon to be reunited with Chris Ashton, his friend, school-mate and former team‑mate at Wigan, rounded off his 15‑a‑side debut for the league champions with two tries in four minutes as Saracens came from behind with 35 unanswered points.

Tomkins, better known for length-of-the-field tries in the Challenge Cup, has been learning the ways of union with the Watford club for two months, but for two-thirds of this match he would have had every reason to be puzzled and perhaps slightly worried about what the future might hold.

For a start Saracens often found it difficult to get their hands on the ball and when they did, the new boy at outside‑centre was left out in the cold by a fly‑half who kicked away 60% of possession or a midfield roadblock of forwards who dragged everything back to their own slow pace.

There was an early flash of what Saracens thought they have bought for a reported £250,000 a year when the England league international initiated what looked like a promising breakout from under his own posts. However, after a bit of give-and-take with the wing Michael Tagicakibau, Tomkins was caught up in a maelstrom of Worcester attacking and caught looking the wrong way when the flanker Sam Betty spotted the gap which led to the line.

Seven points down after six minutes became 6-14 when the Worcester wing Tom Arscott pounced on a loose ball and proved himself faster over 70 metres than any Saracen hanging around, before another recent recruit, Peter Stringer, began the fightback. The veteran scrum-half, on loan from Munster, caught everyone napping off the back of a rolling maul, but it was another 36 minutes before Justin Melch's short‑range try put Saracens ahead and before Tomkins got a sniff of anything like a try‑scoring chance.

The 24-year-old spent most of his afternoon tackling or waiting out wide, but after 61 minutes he did receive the perfect pass, even if it came from the Worcester captain Chris Pennell. Twenty metres out and from bang in front of the posts it was not Wembley with 80,000 cheering, but it must have given a glow to brother Sam, another league player on whom union would dearly love to get their hands, sitting in the stands.

A bit more effort was required four minutes later when Worcester gave away possession again, but Tomkins made the corner with some comfort, leading the Saracens coach Alex Sanderson to suggest, with six Saracens away with England and three with the Saxons, that busier times lay ahead. "He is an intelligent player and the more he plays the better he's going to become. His core skills are beyond compare as you would expect from a rugby league player," said Sanderson, hinting at another start against the Dragons next week.

Saracens Taylor; Ratuvou (Ransom 58), Tomkins, Powell (Jubb 76), Tagicakibau (Earl 72); Mordt, Stringer (Baldwin 56); Smit (Auterac 53), George (capt), De Plessis (Cleverly 77), Kruis , Sherriff, (Vyvyan 53) Melck, Fraser (Spurling 58), Wray.

Tries Stringer, Melck, Tomkins 2, George Cons Mordt 5 Pens Mordt 2 .

Worcester Pennell (capt); Arscott, Fatiaki (Claassens 67), Carlisle, Drauniniu (Benjamin 67); Gray, Arr (Frost 67) ; Douglas (Currie 68), Fortey (Lutui 50), Tomaszczyk (Porter 52), Gulliver, Gillies, Betty, Maugutatia (Kvesic 50) Cowan (Dacres 75).

Tries Betty, Arscott Cons Carlisle.

Referee I Tempest (Liverpool) Attendance 4,970.

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