A Twitter competition saw 3 friends and I enjoying this match in some style. Total Motion Leicester Tigers official vehicle suppliers sent out a tweet asking for the 2 seasons the 2 teams played each other in the Premiership Final. Both games were etched in my memory having been devastated at one and elated at the second. The prize was rather spectacular, a signed bottle of gin, a signed shirt and 4 places in the 1880 Suite
We were treated to a 3 course lunch with wine and beer, cheese and biscuits with tea or coffee at half time then a snack at full time too. Our seats were close to the halfway line, we had a superb view. If you’re looking for a special experience I can highly recommend the 1880 Club!
And so to the rugby, this was still during the international period so both teams were under strength. Saracens had one returning player, Alex Lozowski hadn’t had the best October/November, having been messed around by the disciplinary process he finally received a 4 week ban which put him out of contention for England until the Japan game. When Eddie Jones decided to place him at 12, next to George Ford, a position Lozowski doesn’t play, it didn’t go too well for him. I’m so not a fan of players being played out of position and felt quite angry for Alex, he’s a man who always gives his everything and leaves nothing on the pitch.
Talking of playing people out of position Lozowski started on the wing for his club team, yet on this day he put in a Man of the Match performance.
Tigers had the run of the game for the majority of the first half, having 2 try attempts ruled out after referee Karl Dickson went to the TMO, Max Malins and Lozowski were instrumental in denying Jonah Holmes the first, before Gareth Owen was denied a score, he’d picked the ball up in the ruck before going over the line. Joe Ford had slotted a penalty over for Tigers but their efforts were coming to nothing more than the 3 points.
The referee was the former scrum half, Karl Dickson, it was great to hear him tell Sam Harrison he couldn’t throw the ball at a man on the ground, he kept the communication up with the players all through the game, always good to hear.
Saracens scored 3 long range tries in the space of 6 minutes, with Ben Spencer running in before Max Malins made a great break to put Alex Lewington in, with 3 Alex’s on the pitch, the Saracens group in the posh seats were hard shouting – pass to Alex, more than once. Malins did seem to have made an error in not passing to Lozowski on his right, but his floating pass to Lewington on his left saw the try of the week scored.
Alex Lozowski showed his own turn of speed to score Saracens’ third on 30 minutes, Ben Spencer converted all 3 and the teams went in at half time with the score on Leicester Tigers 3 Saracens 21.
That felt like the result was sorted, but no, there was a twist to come in the second half. Tigers got the first score of the second half as Brendon O’Connor went over as his pack drove him over the line. Ford converted to close the gap to 11 points. A Ben Spencer penalty extended it to 14 after replacement back rower Ben Earl had shown his own burst of speed to leave Tigers vulnerable.
However it was a hand thrown out by the same Ben Earl, which left the visitors vulnerable. The move was deemed to be a deliberate knock on and the requisite yellow was shown. There was a good deal of conversation between the referee and the TMO and it was deemed that the offence was too far out to award a penalty try. A decision which of course caused angst amongst the home supporters and relief amongst the away fans.
Now, Saracens with 14 men tend not to be a unit in trouble, but, a yellow shown to Schalk Burger only 2 minutes later left them with only 13 men standing, that was definitely a problem!
Brendon O’Connor got his second in almost identical style before Matt Smith scored Tigers third. Ford converted the first, but kicked the ball wide of the posts for the second. That narrowed the lead to 2 points for Saracens.
Saracens made substitutions with rising star Joel Kpoku coin into the fray, Callum Clarke had arrived earlier to boos from the home crowd, they won’t be forgetting or forgiving his brain freeze when playing for Saints.
Down to 13 men Saracens went about retaining the ball in Tigers half winning a penalty in front of the posts. Spencer added the 3 points and the match finished on Leicester Tigers 22 Saracens 27.
I must give a mention to Dan Cole and the unfortunate sequence of events that saw 2 Tigers players leaving the field after 2 separate collisions with him. Firstly George Worth ran into Cole, before captain Tom Youngs also collided with the prop, he looked to be in a lot of trouble, I hope the injury wasn’t too serious for a key Tiger.
A hard fought win for Saracens made a special day even better, want thanks to Total Motion and of course the Saracens men!