A 5:30 kick off on a Sunday and family who live in North Berwick meant a road trip to get to and from this match. The was great, the match, not so much! Edinburgh had run Saracens very close in the fixture in London and could easily have won had a pass been made at a crucial time. I was expecting a close game. My previous visit to watch these 2 teams in Edinburgh had been a game at Murrayfield, where fans rattled round. This was a visit to Edinburgh’s new Dam Stadium,, a sell out, the atmosphere was great and it was good to mix with both home and away fans.

Great for Edinburgh to have their own home

There was an early blow for Saracens when Man Vunipola was counted out before the match started, further blows would come as the match progressed. Jamie George was captain in Owen Farrell’s absence, listening to the preamble how right the commentator was when he said he was sure there’d be a card or two. Edinburgh took a 10 point lead with an early try for Hooker David Cherry, Blair Kinghorn had kicked a mighty penalty to put his team in a great position, the forwards moved across the opicth with Cherry picking the ball and diving over the line. King horn converted the try and added a penalty 3 minutes later. Alex Goode added a penalty on 16 ,minutes

Sadly one of the main talking points of the game came 5 minutes later as Jamie George got a tackle all wrong, he went down like a sack off potatoes and was very clearly in some difficulty. At this point I have no idea what the officials were doing, play should have been stopped! The incidents was rightly reviewed and it was deemed a head on head hit, therefore a yellow card for George. That was the right decision for me, the shocking decision was that George came back on after such a knock, especially when he was then removed at half time. An HIA shouldn’t have been an option after that hit/fall, he should have simply been removed. A disappointing incident all round. Kinghorn missed the resulting penalty.

Things got worse for Saracens when Marco Riccioni put in a very similar tackle, with his head connecting with Gilchrist, that happened right in front of the referee yet he didn’t stop the game immediately. The result was another head on head and another yellow card. Riccioini at least didn’t return. I’m not convinced on the referee’s decision to downgrade both as they weren’t ‘leading’ with the head, I’m not sure that’s a thing.

with Saracens down to 13 touch was missed by Kinghorn which was something of a schoolboy error, Elliot Daly then kicked out o the full; Saracens really weren’t on song. Somehow Edinburgh failed to score against the 13 men of Saracens, changes had to be made to bring a Hooker then a Prop on, but Saracens held firm. It was Saracens who added to the score with a penalty from Goode before George came back on just before Half-Time. I was gobsmacked to see George coming back on as were the commentators another head knock could have had awful consequences. The teams went in with the scores on Edinburgh 10 Saracens 6.

Listening to the half-time chat it was very refreshing to have Jim Hamilton talking about the 2 Saracens’ cards, it makes such a difference when the dislike isn’t blatantly obvious.

Jamie George didn’t return after the break, which made his reappearance in the first even more debatable. Billy Vunipola was lucky not to see a yellow card for his actions, in walking away with and then kicking away the ball, when a penalty was given against him, he did however cost his team 10 metres: Not great, however Edinburgh didn’t make the most of the territory. They eschewed a kick at the posts in the first instance before opting to take the 3 points to stretch their lead to 7. Having had 73% of the possession to that point that wasn’t a great return.

Blair Kinghorn had a mixed afternoon

Goode missed a penalty on 48 minutes before converting another on 51, taking the lead down to 4. A card for Maro Itoje on 59 minutes gave Edinburgh that man advantage again, Itoje had flung his arm out for a ‘deliberate’ knock on and that combined with the fact it was the 16th penalty given away by Saracens saw a yellow card brandished. How right the commentary team were before the match started. Edinburgh made the most of the extra man this time with Pierre Schoeman taking the ball over the line as the maul rolled forward. Kinghorn converted the try and that gave them an 11 point lead.

In spite of having scored a try from the line out Edinburgh took the penalty kick option on 65 minutes, the wind held the ball up and gave possession back to Saracens.

It was worrying to see Elliot Daly leave in some difficulty

Itoje came back into the fray as Andy Christie left for Theo Dan, a Hooker who’s twice now replaced a Back Row player. With 9 minutes remaining Edinburgh had a home tie for the next round. Sam Skinner had given away 2 penalties in quick succession and was shown a yellow card. Saracens were penalised in the line out and we had some handbags as Billy Vunipola throw the ball away in anger, he was bumped by an Edinburgh player and a few players got to know each other better.

Ben Earl had taken over the captaincy in the second half and that man likes to take things into his own hands. Edinburgh; stghrow intro the line ut wasn’t;t straight and Saracens won a penalty in the scrum then another 2 as they attacked. They didn’t need those penalties as the ball spun across the pitch to Eroni Mawi who made a great break for such a big man. Ben Earl was on his outside and he scored his 17th try of the season at speed. Goode didn’t have hogs kicking boots on and missed the conversion. That meant the teams were equal on points and points difference but Saracens had scored more tries.

Ben Earl was in determined mode

Both teams made errors in the final few minutes and no more points were scored, it was unclear whether the Edinburgh players knew they needed more points to get that home match. Edinburgh won a penalty in the scrum as the clock ticked down and with a line out in the Saracens half they chose to kick the ball out. Edinburgh had a deserved win but will now face Leicester Tigers away in the Round of 16. Saracens get the home tie against the Ospreys.

The stats don’t make good reading for Saracens they were bested in every area and in spite of an overall poor performance from Saracens they did enough to get the losing bonus point and that home tie. The next set of matches take place over the weekend of 31st March.

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