London Welsh threw away a fantastic chance of their first win of the season, after a lack of clinical finishing and defensive errors saw them lose to Saracens, writes Simon Williams.

The Exiles had been humbled 78-7 at Allianz Park in the Aviva Premiership just over a month ago.

But a repeat was never likely in yesterday’s LV= Cup clash at Oxford's Kassam Stadium, as Sarries – missing key internationals ahead of the Six Nations championship – named a young side.

Leading 15-14 with ten minutes left, it looked as though Welsh’s wait was over, but they couldn’t hold on.

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The Exiles were in the ascendancy early on and after five minutes were close to the Saracens tryline, but typifying the lack of clinical finishing that has dogged them all season, Welsh failed to produce that telling final move to create a try.

They went ahead on 13 minutes through a Tristan Roberts drop-goal In the 22nd minute, Nick Scott made a searing 30-yard run and exchanged passes with fellow winger Alan Awcock, but was held up just short of the try line and the ball was spilled.

It seemed that, despite the missed chances, Welsh would at least go in at the interval with their noses in front.

But they suffered a devastating blow on the stroke of half-time.

Forty minutes had elapsed when a A stray pass from Tom May was kicked forward by centre Tom Wilkins, before chipped forward by scrum half Ben Spencer who outsprinted the Welsh defence to touch down next to the posts. Spencer then converted his own try to give Saracens a 7-3 half-time lead.

Scores in and around half-time are often crucial and Welsh went further behind less than three minutes after the restart. They were caught napping as Saracens’ put them and under pressure and hooker Jared Saunders scored a try, converted by Spencer.

Trailing 14-3, Welsh hit back immediately.

Good passing kept the ball alive near the Saracens’ try line before No 8 Opeti Fonua charged through from ten yards for their first try under the posts. Roberts converted and, at 14-10 down, Welsh were back in the game.

They continued to press and were rewarded on 59 minutes with another try from Fonua, who, despite the attentions of three Saracens defenders, powered over from two yards.

Roberts missed the conversion, but Welsh were now in front at 15-14.

They had the momentum to go for victory and their chances were boosted by the sin-binning of lock Josh Buggea for a high tackle three minutes after coming on as a replacement.

However, Alex Davies, who came on as a replacement for scrum half Rob Lewis for his first game in nine months after injury, missed the resulting penalty and Welsh were unable to make the man-advantage tell during the next ten minutes.

Their best chance, inevitably, came from the man mountain Fonua, but he was bundled into touch right on the tryline to be denied what would have been a magnificent hat-trick.

Indeed, it was Saracens who retook the lead through a penalty by Spencer in the 72nd minute, before the same player made it 20-15 three minutes from time with another penalty.

The Exiles pushed hard late on, but could not force another comeback.

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