MATCH REPORT | London Irish 29-20 Saracens Men
Saracens Men suffered defeat in the Gallagher Premiership for the first time this season after they were beaten 29-20 by London Irish in an eventful match at the Gtech Community Stadium.
An 80 minutes full of contentious moments ultimately ended in defeat for the Men in Black who were defeated by a clinical Irish outfit in Brentford.
It was Irish who started strongly and they went in front with just three minutes played. A neat grubber in behind forced Alex Goode to run the ball in to touch, and then from the resulting lineout the ball went from right to left and ended up in the hands of Ollie Hassell-Collins who stepped the final defender to score in the corner. Paddy Jackson’s touchline conversion made it 7-0.
Sarries then started to see some ball and a couple of half breaks from Elliot Daly showed glimpses that there was more to come, and but for a maul that was pulled down just short they may well have got themselves level.
They were rewarded from the next set of possession with 15 minutes on the clock, as a penalty allowed Owen Farrell to bisect the posts from straight in front and cut the deficit to just four points.
Irish skipper Adam Coleman was then red carded for a horror tackle on Tom Woolstencroft, but they managed to reinstate their seven point lead with a Jackson penalty on the 20 minute mark.
Another penalty came their way with 27 minutes gone at scrum time, and Jackson again made no mistake as their lead grew to 13-3.
Ill-discipline was costing Sarries, and Ben Earl was then shown a red card for a high shot which allowed Jackson to take their lead up to 16-3 as we approached half time.
The visitors then looked for a route back in to the match and a half chance saw Sean Maitland break down the left and then Daly looked to dink in behind, but his kick found an Irish hand and the ball was cleared.
Just when they needed it most Sarries got back in to the game on the stroke of half time. A penalty was kicked to rather corner, and Kapeli Pifeleti powered over from close range to spark huge celebrations for a significant score. Farrell’s excellent touchline conversion made it a six point deficit, however there was still time for one more penalty from Jackson to give Irish a 19-10 lead at the break.
Sarries started the second half with much better intensity and after some extended spells of possession in Irish 22 they got a huge slice of luck and Maitland took full advantage. Daly was out the back and grubbered ahead, and the ball bounced horribly for Ben Loader which allowed Maitland to dot down from just a metre out. Farrell’s conversion cut the gap to just two points with half an hour to play.
It almost got even better when Billy Vunipola intercepted and nearly ran the length, but as he kicked ahead Loader managed to beat Alex Lewington to the ball and get Irish a goal-line drop out.
Irish then weathered a bit of a storm and then Jackson kicked his fifth penalty to edge them further in front, as we entered the final quarter needing to overturn a five point deficit.
The game, which was always threatening to boil over then had another yellow when Rory Jennings tackled Vunipola high, and then from the next phase Rob Simmons was also sent to the bin for collapsing a maul.
Pifeleti was then inches from his second but in the process of scoring he was held up and Irish cleared the danger.
The visitors continued to hammer away at the Irish line and Farrell’s successful penalty with six minutes left made it a two point game and set up a thrilling finish in West London.
However Irish landed the knockout punch with 90 seconds to go as Chandler Cunningham-South took advantage of turnover ball at a lineout and a huge overlap allowed him to stroll over, sending the Gtech in to raptures. Jackson’s conversion confirmed a 29-20 win for the hosts.