Saracens as a club have been involved in many ‘big’ games since I had my first season ticket in 2010, but I’d judge both this and next weekend’s match as […]
Saracens as a club have been involved in many ‘big’ games since I had my first season ticket in 2010, but I’d judge both this and next weekend’s match as the most important in the club’s history. Their team sheet reflected that fact –
- 15 Alex Goode – 21 England Caps, European Player of the Year 2019
- 14 Alex Lewington
- 13 Elliot Daly – 52 England Caps, 2017 & 2021 Lions Tourist
- 12 Nick Tompkins – 10 Welsh Caps
- 11 Sean Maitland – 53 Scottish Caps, 2013 Lions Tourist
- 10 Owen Farrell – 93 England Caps, 2013, 2017, 2021 Lions Tourist
- 9 Aled Davies – 20 Welsh Caps
- 1 Mako Vunipola – 67 England Caps, 2013, 2017, 2021 Lions Tourist
- 2 Jamie George – 59 England Caps, 2017 & 2021 Lions Tourist
- 3 Vincent Koch – 21 South Africa Caps
- 4 Maro Itoje – 48 England Caps, 2017 & 2021 Lions Tourist
- 5 Tim Swinson – 38 Scottish Caps
- 6 Will Rhodes
- 7 Jackson Wray
- 8 Billy Vunipola – 61 England Caps
- 15 Dave Johnston
- 14 Dean Hammond
- 13 Max Bodilly
- 12 Matt Gordon
- 11 James Cordy-Redden
- 10 Craig Willis
- 9 Craig Hampson
- 1 Will Davis
- 2 Shaun Malton
- 3 Kyle Whyte
- 4 Bobby de Wee
- 5 James Cannon
- 6 Kieran Murphy
- 7 Simon Uzokwe
- 8 Rayn Smid
Social Media was doing its’ thing before the match took place and most definitely after the fact. One such tweet suggested Saracens weren’t showing respect to Ealing when they tweeted the score. I’d suggest that the squad they brought to Ealing Trailfinders was showing the upmost respect. This was one of two games that were/are must win, nothing was being taken for granted.
I found myself in the incredibly privileged position of having a ticket for the game; as a London Broncos fam for many years the Trailfinders home is a place I’ve been to quite often. The changes that have been made since my last visit are great, a new stand at one end and ”proper’ parking facilities, it’s a very nice place to watch rugby. There was a ‘fans village’ set up with food and drink options and as visiting fans we were made to feel very welcome.
Saracens are a team that like to get points on the board and when awarded a penalty after 5 minutes Owen Farrell slotted the ball over the sticks. To much applause from both sets of fans Ealing eschewed the 3 points after being awarded a second penalty in quick succession. The line out, 5 metres out from the Saracens line was turned over however and the teams found themselves at the other end of the pitch. Pick and go followed pick and go and eventually Saracens word the Ealing defence down, Maro Itoje had his name on the scoresheet. The conversion was good and Saracens were 10 up.
Max Bodilly gave the home crowd something to shout about as he hared up the pitch, but the Saracens defence was up to the mark and they won a penalty. The next penalty was in kicking range, and Farrell again went for the posts, missing with this attempt. Ealing won a penalty and kicked into the Saracens 22, Dean Hammond went close from the line out but he was bundled into touch
Although the scoreline suggests this was a one sided affair the ebb and flow said different, Saracens had to defend their lines throughout the game. However it was Saracens up next, Owen Farrell and Aled Davies combined as Farrell flipped the ball on to Davies to score. The Welshman has been transformed since Farrell has returned, putting in much better performances alongside the England captain. Another successful conversion took Saracens to 17.
I really can’t undersell how hot it was in Ealing while this match was taking place, and I can only imagine how much heat comes from a 4G surface, yet both teams kept up the effort for the duration. Farrell wasn’t finished with the penalty kicks and he was successful with another, after his forwards won a penalty in the scrum.
On the stroke of half-time Saracens drove another try over the line, after a line-out, Jamie George is an expert with the ball at the back of a maul and he came up with the ball. The conversion was good and the teams went in with the score on Ealing 0 Saracens 27.
5 minutes into the second half Saracens won another penalty, having kicked to the corner and another drive saw Billy Vunipola touch down, Farrell’s kick was successful.
The next 10 minutes saw some kind of reprieve for Ealing as they had some possession, but on 55 minutes Billy Vunipola, who was probably looking in the best shape he’s been in this season, went over again. The conversion added put Saracens on 41.
It took another 10 minutes before the scoreboard ticked over again, a Saracens maul was brought down illegally, it cost Ealing a yellow card for Guy Thompson and a Penalty Try for Saracens. In spite of the fact that Ealing were a man down they had some possession, sadly it ddn’t yield them any points and it was Saracens who went over as Saracens back line did their thing, Nick Tompkins was the scorer to take the score to 55 for Saracens with the conversion.
In common with the first half Saracens finished the game with a try, Sean Maitland, a real speedster, went in and very calmly dotted the ball down, virtually on the side line. Tom Whiteley, on kicking duty, won’t have thanked him as he did indeed miss the conversion. The final score was Ealing Tailfinders 0 Saracens 60.
The Saracens line up tells the story of their intentions here and I really do believe showed the respect due to a team that had a very good season. While the Lions amongst the Saracens group won’t want to risk injury in the second match I hope the home fans who were able to get a ticket see their best team. In spite of the result memories will have been made for Ealing and their fans, the two teams go again on June 20th.