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Re: Saracens On This Day
Posted by: Haslam
Date: 01/09/2017 09:07
Saracens On This Day - 1st September

1st September 2002 – Bristol 30 Saracens 45

Early season games are always a time of optimism, and the 2002-03 season was no exception. Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford the ex-All Black captain had been appointed as head coach, Andy Goode had been signed as a star Fly Half from Leicester and Thomas Castaignede was returning from a lengthy lay-off. Saracens were well-placed to arrest the decline that had seen them finish 2nd in 1998, 3rd in 1999, 4th in 2000, 5th in 2001 before a horrible 10th placed finish in 2002.

For this day in the sunshine, the optimism held – with Saracens running out 30-45 winners over Bristol at the Memorial Ground.

Thomas Castaignede marked his return with a try after 7 minutes, while Andy Goode grabbed a full house with a try, a drop goal, two penalties and three conversions. It’s entertaining to read about Goode ghosting and easing clear of defenders considering his current reputation as a fan of pies and pints!

Saracens weren’t to have it all their own way that day, with two yellow cards and two late Bristolian tries but the early errors proved Bristol’s undoing even before Saracens winger Darragh O'Mahony scored two tries and Welsh centre Tom Shanklin added a fifth.

Even the local fans seemed to think 30-45 a fair result, but they weren’t to see much better all season. The relegation battle with Bath went down to the wire– in fact both sides seriously considered merging - but it was Bristol that were to go down.

For Saracens the optimism lasted another two weeks before a heavy loss to London Irish, results then struggled for the rest of 2002 before 6 league losses in a row at the start of 2003 scuppered any hopes of a Heineken Cup place. Perhaps unsurprisingly Shelford and his team were moved on in June!

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