I have to write about far more than the match on this one, so I’ll ask you to bear with me. I’m in the middle of writing a piece for another site, with the title – “What a Difference a Home Makes’ – and this Champions Cup weekend was a prime example of the things I’m writing there. The Saracens Supporters Association set up an evening for their Glasgow Warriors counterparts, the XVI Man. That meant a curry laid on by the club, the Munster game on the TV and a quiz between the 2 sets of fans. It was a wonderful evening and a real testament to those involved in arranging it as well as Saracens themselves, we’re part of a rugby club, not just supporters of a team!
The ground had been extended to seat the required 15,000 for a European Qtr Final, with both the North and South stands increased, the weather was very kind as that meant uncovered stands for the afternoon. I arrived at the ground at about 11 and the place was alive with fans of both teams. Glasgow had around 5,500 travelling fans and they were in fine form, there were lots of kilts on show and smiles all round as fans of both sides mixed together. It almost felt as if the game itself was an aside.
I was at the England v Scotland game and was very surprised by what happened that day, I was expecting a tougher task for a Saracens team that was back to its best with the return of their international players. Glasgow had reached this stage after beating Leicester Tigers home and away with an aggregate score of 85 to 13 as well as two victories against Dan Carter’s Racing Metro. Saracens had beaten a previous bogey team Toulon home and away and had only dropped points at Llanelli Scarlets who played a great game against the champions to earn a draw.
The atmosphere at Allianz Park was wonderful as the teams emerged, flags were aloft and voices were high, I had wondered if the home fans might be out shouted by the visitors but the Saracens crowd are getting very vocal and weren’t to be outdone in their ‘house’.
As the fans weren’t to be outdone nor were their team, Glasgow seemed to have players dropping like flies, one of their key players/leaders as Jonny Gray left the field with a suspected head injury, he didn’t return. Saracens were playing on the back of a record win over Premiership rivals Bath and looks keen to repeat that performance. Both Chris Ashton and Sean Maitland playing against men he knew very well were both denied a try by last gasp tackles in their respective corners.
Owen Farrell scored 3 penalties to Finn Russells’ 1 to put the home side ahead before Chris Ashton did score a try on the half hour mark, Ashton had come in from his wing and tracked the ball in a way you’ll see very few wingers do, Farrell missed the conversion. The half time score was Saracens 14 Glasgow 3.
Glasgow came out in the first half with a do’able task, a try from Lee Jones closed the gap to 6 points, the Russell conversion hit the posts. As they had against Bath, Saracens turned the gas on, scoring 3 unanswered tries, with both centres, Marcelo Bosch and captain Brad Barritt touching down. Chris Ashton added a 2nd taking him to a total of 36 tries scored in Europe, equalling Vincent Clerc’s record and taking him to equal first.
The game was a contrast as far as the 2 fly halves were concerned, with Owen Farrell putting in a Man of the Match performance and Finn Russell having a less than perfect day at the office, he missed touch with 2 penalties, which happens to the best, but always feels like a schoolboy error.
The atmosphere was wonderful all through the game and the XVI Warriors were rewarded for their efforts with a consolation try, scored by Ryan Wilson. The score finished on Saracens 38 Glasgow Warriors 13. Big Game experience is something often spoken about at Saracens and again they proved their form, a visit to Dublin to play Munster at the Aviva Stadium awaits. Many fans stayed to enjoy the sunshine and company after the match, I imagine the whole day was a dream come true for Chairman Nigel Wray.