MY DEBUT | Alex Lewington
Alex Lewington marked his arrival at Saracens with a two-try debut and quickly established himself as a key figure within the side.
The former Notts County Academy football player had moved across London after signing from London Irish in 2018. The former England U16s wing quickly adapted to life in his new home and proved what a valuable player he would be for Saracens, with his tries and his leadership skills.
SARACENS DEBUT – 2 September, 2018: Newcastle Falcons 21-32 Saracens – Kingston Park.
I was pretty nervous on the bench but was called upon pretty quickly after about 20 minutes and before I knew it I was on and in the thick of it. It was much quicker than I expected but was probably for the best because I didn’t have time to think. Do remember scoring my first try quite early on and that really settled the nerves for me and allowed me to focus on my role. It was a very tight game and winning on your debut and getting a couple of tries is always good. I remember being told in pre-season that I would be on the bench for the first couple of games, so I knew it was coming but didn’t expect to make my debut so quickly, really. Thought I would ease my way in and what it meant to be here but it didn’t quite happen like that. I do remember starting games quite quickly after that and managed to do that quite a bit since I have been at the club. I do remember understanding quite quickly the standards the club expects from us and that is still the same. There is an expectation here and that really drives you on as a player. There was a real sense of relief after my debut, I do remember that and feeling that I had started to prove I could play for the team. There was a real sense I had come to the right club for me after my debut. I did have a real idea about making sure that I left the shirt in a better place for the next player. There is a vivid memory of being on the train back from Newcastle, because that is always how we travel there, having a beer and feeling my journey at the club had started. I went on a good run of scoring tries after that game – six tries in eight games – and really developed some self-belief.
Alex Lewington scored twice on his Saracens debut in a 32-21 opening round win over Newcastle Falcons in the Gallagher Premiership.
Mark McCall’s side were dealt a selected blow prior to kick-off. Ben Spencer was withdrawn due to illness with Richard Wigglesworth stepping in at nine on a muggy afternoon at Kingston Park.
Roared on by a vociferous home crowd, Newcastle put it up their jumper early on with several hard carries which presented the opportunity for two early strikes at goal for Flood who delivered six points without hesitation.
Farrell responded with a penalty of his own and soon after the visitors sprung into life to punish the Falcons.
Outside centre Alex Lozowski was fortunate to see the ball pop into his hands after a strong Will Skelton run and when his 30-metre sprint was halted, Sarries were quick to recycle to the right wing and a beautiful one-two between George and David Strettle saw the former barge his way over.
Then came some controversy. Farrell’s drop kick faded wide of the left post and it looked as though Vereniki Goneva had tapped down for a 22, but the Fijian sneakily placed the ball on his foot and sprinted the length of the field for what he believed to be a five-pointer. However, the dummy fooled referee Ian Tempest too who had already blown for the drop.
A real battle in the contact area followed. Newcastle pressed for a try but had to settle for three points from Flood and it was Saracens who ended the first period on top.
Lozowski carved through Falcons’ D and his soft pop to an onrushing Farrell allowed the fly-half to proceed on a gallop. Lewington drifted in from his wing and was perfectly placed to receive a pass and have a free route to under the posts.
The Men in Black continued their momentum early into the second half and a cheeky box-kick from Wigglesworth almost saw Lozowski cross but for a dodgy bounce.
Newcastle rallied thereafter and after Strettle and Brad Barritt (who later returned) joined Sean Maitland injured on the sidelines, Wilson showed great awareness to pick and go through a gap in the ruck and trundle in.
But Saracens’ reply was perfect. Nick Isiewke’s charge down forced Flood into a short clearance and from the resulting line-out, Farrell received the ball and his miss pass went straight into Lewington’s bread basket and he made no mistake from close range.
Replacement Tompkins was sent to the bin for leading with his forearm into contact and Alex Goode saw yellow too 10 minutes from the end and with the away team down to 13, Falcons scored.
Instead of a free shot in front of the sticks, Flood booted to the corner and Wilson profited from a fast-moving driving maul.
Flood added the extras to make it 22-21 heading into the closing stages but Saracens managed another to seal five points.
George’s surge down the middle almost saw him squeeze in at the right-hand post but after he was thwarted, Barritt showed great agility to flick the ball to Tompkins in the tackle and the centre delightfully finished the move off before Farrell kicked a further five points.