Gaps in the Premiership Rugby schedule has seen those teams still standing seeking ways to fill the resulting gaps, for some that has meant games against the Barbarians for Saracens it meant an invite to Tel Aviv Heat. The team fielded by Saracens was reminiscent of the Storm teams of 9old, a mixture of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ with the odd player returning from injury. There was one very famous name amongst the young Saracens players, the oldest of the 3 Bracken boys, all scrum halves, mouth watering prospects!

  • 1 James Flynn
  • 2 Kapeli Pifeleti
  • 3 Alec Clarey
  • 4 Callum Hunter-Hill
  • 5 Alex Wardell
  • 6 Andy Christie
  • 7 Samson Adejimi
  • 8 Jackson Wray
  • 9 Charlie Bracken
  • 10 Tobias Elliot
  • 11 Tom Howe
  • 12 Ollie Hartley
  • 13 Francis Moore
  • 14 Charlie Reynolds-West
  • 15 Jenson Mcinulty

I’m going to borrow from Tel Aviv’s own site to give the background of Israel’s first semi-pro team –

We launched the Tel Aviv Heat, Israel’s first professional rugby team, just over a year ago, with the mission of applying Startup Nation innovation and values to build a sustainable, world-class rugby club—on and off the pitch—that elevates and links Israel rugby to a worldwide community of sports professionals and fans promoting respect &
inclusion.

They were formed to play in the Rugby Europe Super Cup – Taken from WordPress

The Rugby Europe Super Cup is an annual men’s rugby union club tournament organised by the continental governing body, Rugby Europe. Featuring clubs outside the traditional Six Nations strongholds of the sport, it effectively forms a third tier of European club rugby beneath the EPCR-organised European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup.[1] The first Super Cup draw will take place in 2021.

  • 1.Caylib Oosthuizen – South Africa – 32
  • 2. Dameon Venter – SA – 22
  • 3. Wiehahn Herbst. – SA 34
  • 4. Max Katjijeko – Namibia 27
  • 5. Jurie Van Vuuren. – Namibia 29
  • 6 Prince Gaoseb (c). – Namibia 24
  • 7. Cal Smid – SA 21
  • 8. Semi Kunatani. – Fiji 31
  • 9. Niall Saunders. – Ireland 24
  • 10. Jordan Chait. – SA 25
  • 11. Paceli Nacebe. – Fiji 26
  • 12. Idan Eisenberg. – Israel 21
  • 13. Jone Manu. – Fiji 26
  • 14. Jamba Ulengo. – SA 32
  • 15. Sebastien Jobb. – SA 23

Listed above are the starting XV – Tel Aviv Heat had a squad of 28 on the day and I have to say many of them were enormous! I’m not sure I’ve seen so many tall rugby players, they had the bulk too. A quick trawl for the first names of the starting XV told me these were mostly experienced players who’ve played at a high level. It was clear simply looking at their stature that this would be no easy match.

The Stonex crowd was sparse, I’d been at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to watch Wales play and being beaten by Australia, I like to watch as many Saracens games as I can, so drove to Reading after the game to make sure I could be there on time. With the lack of a crowd it’s going to be interesting to see what the club do about the ‘missing’ Premiership matches.

Tel Aviv took the lead with an early Jordan Chait penalty, that lead was extended by a lovely try for Full Back Sebastien Jobb, a man who has speed to burn, it was a try worth watching, the conversion went awry but the visitors had an 8 point lead with 11 minutes on the clock.

23 year old Sebastien Jobb also plays for the Blue Bulls in South Africa

Saracens had some good possession in the Heat 22 but failed to convert, Jone Manu intercepted a Saracens pass and he soared towards the line, Jenson Mcinulty showed his pace to get back to stop him however, a forward pass saw whatr had looked like a great try for Prince Naceebe wiped off.

The first half was a truly physical encounter, one tackle by Nacebe could be heard from the stands, it resulted in him leaving for an HIA.

With 30 minutes on the clock Andy Christie showed his pace to score Saracens first try of the match the conversion closed the gap to a single point.

Andy Christie got Saracens first points

Another interception from Tel Aviv saw Niall Saunders run the length of the pitch to score between the posts. the teams went in at half-time with the score on Saracens 7 Tel Aviv Heat 15

Niall Saunders made 16 appearances for Harlequins between 2017-2020 and is signed to the Utah Warriors

Action photos from the first half

Jobb started the second half as he’d started the first, having gathered a kick he ran in under the posts to score. Saracens 7 Tel Aviv Heat 22.

Sebastien Jobb enjoying his second try

Jackson Wray, who was captain for the day, made his 250th appearance for Saracens a few weeks ago, he never ceases to amaze and had a great game, he went close but was hauled down close to the line. However Kapeli Pifeleti wasn’t to be denied as he scored in the maul after a line out close to the Heat line. The conversion took the score to Saracens 14 Tel Aviv Heat 22.

Tel Aviv stretched that lead again with their 4th try, scored by replacement Sailasa Turaguluvu, a gap of 15 points had opened up. Heat lost Semi Kunatani to a yellow card on 72 minutes, could they hold out with 14 men?

Saracens took advantage of the extra man as Sam Bryans took an inside pass to run in between the posts, the conversion took the lead for Heat back to 8.

Saracens have loved a come back story this season and a Declan Murphy try took them within 3 points, that was scored on 80 minutes however and at the next opportunity the ball was kicked out by Tel Aviv Heat and they had a mu8ch deserved win. The final score was Saracens 26 Tel Aviv Heat 29.

Action photos from the second half

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