And so the 2013/14 Premiership campaign started for Saracens yesterday; although this fan lives in Essex I love Twickenham I was lucky enough to get there 12 times last season! A shame a fair few of the Saracens fans around me didn’t feel the same!
However the team gave us a lot to shout about; we start the season without our super hooker Schalk Brits after his hmmm, ‘fracas’ with Owen Farrell, giving Jamie George a chance to start in the role. He has clearly been taking advice from Schalk after putting us ahead he then found himself with a bit of space and stormed in to score a try fit for one of the pretty boy backs! Seems our hookers fancy themselves in any position (on the pitch). Owen Farrell kept the scoreboard ticking over with his largely immaculate kicking; no matter what opposing teams may think of kicking for goal or corner, the game is all about winning and points are what matter. So Jamie found himself on a hat-trick at half-time, the delight on his face was plain to see! Saracens went into the changing rooms with a 21 to 10 lead, after Kieran Low kept Irish in the hunt with a try and Ian Humphrey with the boot.
It was plain that we had a real superiority in the forwards, with new signing Billy Vunipola in particular shining. It was very pleasing to see Jacques Burger make a start after an injury that kept him missing for so long, this will be a very big season for him and see lots of competition once we have Will Fraser and Kelly Brown available. We seem to have an embarrassment of riches in so many positions this year.
The second half saw London Irish put up a good fight and the game didn’t feel like a certain win for a while. Mako Vunipola came on to join his little bro, if the word little can ever be used when talking about these 2! And went over the line to extend the lead after Owen had kicked successful penalties, at 13 to 32 the win felt a given.
Now I’m going to speak as a fan who isn’t ‘one eyed’ Matt Stevens having had a good game made an idiotic decision to shoulder barge Ian Humphrey as he was running through. I know I’m a girl and have never played the game, but it never ceases to amaze me that players think they can get away with such things! So I apologise to the fans around me for shouting out as he got binned! Leaving the team a man down always makes that 10 minutes such hard work and allowed the talented Marlon Yarde the room to score.
In spite of what was an exciting score by Yarde the win was in the bag for Saracens and a bonus point was the next priority, Chris Ashton provided that with a seemingly telescopic arm to score the 4th try. Looked like a double movement to me, but more than happy to take the Bonus point! Two of my players to watch made an appearance which was pleasing Ben Ransom looked as exciting as always and Scott Spurling had a run out which was great!
So London Irish 20 Saracens 42 and a bonus point win meant a happy outing for my team. Lots to be optimistic about and a few things to work on. A few hopeful moments for Irish too who may well struggle this season. We face a wounded Gloucester next Sunday after what was surely the shock of the round seeing a Sale win. Yesterday’s match was a marker laid by Saracens as the team look to go further and life that trophy again; bring on the rest of the season!