The 2016/17 Premiership Rugby season kicked off with a shout out loud exciting game at Kingsholm between Gloucester and Leicester Tigers. The home team were ahead by 24 points to 7 at half time, but you can never count a Tiger down and out until the final whistle. Gloucester added a further try, but Tigers taking the score to 31 to 7 before Tigers went into full gear. The final result must have been devastating to the partisan Kingsholm crowd, it finished Gloucester 31 Leicester Tigers 38 – it was a thriller!
I was very much hoping for something similar at the Double Header at Twickenham when Saracens took on Worcester, with a ‘home’ win of course as a Saracens fan. It was great to be back in the stadium Saracens lifted the Premiership Rugby trophy in May. There were a few changes to the team that ‘did’ the double last season and I had a feeling of nerves as Alex Goode kicked off, no Owen Farrell due to injury and no Charlie Hodgson, one of the greatest fly halves we’ve seen in recent years to come off the bench and shine. Alex Lozowski was the man in the 10 shirt and therefore the spotlight. There was a new Burger on the block, Jacques passed the shirt to Schalk, a man I’ve had issues with in the past for some of his play. Happy to have him on my team, but I wouldn’t want them to be opposite him. I truly hope he brings his amazing player head and leaves behind his reputed hot head. Sean Maitland warrants a mention here too, out on the wing I’m sure he’ll make his mark in North London.
Now to the game, I’m going to skim over the first half, it was boring, unimpressive rugby! Very disappointing – Worcester defended well and Saracens made more than a few errors and the only points scored were through penalties. Halftime saw the scores on Saracens 6 Worcester 3 – hardly a thrill fest!
I’m pleased to say some rugby was played in the second half, having seen a couple of penalty kicks missed Saracens went for the corner in the 2nd half. The resulting maul saw Jamie George ploughed over the line to score the first try of the match, the Wolfpack had made it’s mark.
New boy Lozowski looked to be limping and in fact Alex Goode took the conversion, hitting the post, but moments later he benefited form another line out drive as Billy Vunipola broke away, passing to the new boy who went in under the posts, giving himself an easy conversion.
Would the Champions score another two to get the bonus point win? It felt unlikely but a high tackle by James Johnson, who immediately put his hands up, saw him sent to the naughty step for 10 minutes and opened up the Worcester defence further. The new Burger, Schalk took a pass from his great friend, another Schalk, Brits to score under the posts. Both were converted by Lozowski and Saracens lead was stretching.
Saracens have suffered from a lack of bonus points in recent years and were keen to bag the try scoring point, it took something special from replacement scrum half Ben Spencer, a man whos been waiting patiently in the wings for a number of years, he burst through the Worcester defence and proceeded to side step not one but 3 defenders before diving over the line to score. I have a feeling it will be the first of many Premiership tries we see from Spencer this season.
The final whistle blew not long after with the final score on Saracens 35 Worcester 3 – I’d advise giving the first half a miss if you’re planning on watching a rerun! But, a bonus point win was bagged by the Champions, they’ll need two good halves when they face last years runners up Exeter Chiefs next week.