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By J O'G
March 25 2019

It was a lovely; sun was shining and this time at Stratford we knew where we were going. Train to Hampton Wick to avoid the walkways through the centre. A pleasant salt beef bagel and a couple of pints before crossing the canal twice and walking up to the stadium. I should have entered at one of the short queues and walked round inside, but instead joined the longest slowest queue for entry to the stadium. I missed the first scrum, but was there to see Marler knock on and give away the penalty to clear our lines. Lots of mistakes in the first half, plenty of handling errors from Saracens that made it hard to watch. The set pieces seemed fairly even; marginal advantage to Sarries there.

JP didn’t seem to like the way Burger was approaching the breakdown  and penalised him early a couple of times; the second one was in range of Smith to slot over a long kick for 0-3. The handling errors were slowing the game down with the number of restarts. Which in turn led to a larger number of kicks. Plenty were deep, but not much running back, both sides seem happy to kick return the ball to the other side. Although the game was busy, nobody really looked like scoring in the first quarter of the game. To be honest up to the 25th minute the game could even be a bit boring. Then there was a lovely passage of play from Sarries, Alex Goode got the ball in a bit of space and ran back and between 2 quins defenders and it seemed that the way was opening up before the inevitable knock-on.

From the next passage of play, Brown managed to make a slip around the first phase defensive line in his own 22. Loz went low, failed to grab hold of his boot and Brown was free to run from 22 to 22 before passing (yes he did pass) and a two on one seemed certain to score before a great covering tackle from Strettle forced Chisholm to the ground, his attempted offload was snapped up by Ben Spencer and the score averted. It was just for a minute or two before Quins got the ball back. A long pass from Care to Marchant with Brown in close attendance dragged Loz into leaving a gap, where a wrap around pass to Smith put him straight through the hole. 0-10 and those silly mistakes were beginning to cause concern.

The next ten minutes were a succession of Quins penalties, mostly for not rolling away or a tap to the head, a no arms tackle and a couple of offsides. From the first of these just inside the half, Loz managed to make up with a nice long kick to peg the difference back to 7 points. From the kickoff, Marchant jumped and touched Billy’s head for a soft penalty but worse he hobbled off due to a bad landing. From that penalty a kick to touch, another penalty at the lineout and then three more penalties at three more lineouts, the last two kicked to the corner and Sarries were pressing for the try. Koch then had the line open before dropping the ball and it started to get a bit frantic. Quins could not get the ball away though and Jamie George was barreling towards the posts when Symonds both seatbelt tackled him and then refused to roll away. There was little doubt in the yellow card especially with the run of penalties in a short time. The kick was taken for 6-10.    

From the restart, with 30 seconds to play, Sarries caught it safely enough and should easily have gone into half-time at the same score. However, there was a bad ruck, where a Quins foot managed to pull it back (or was that a kick out, who knows) but then managed themselves to lose the ball back to Saracens inside the 22 with the clock ticking down. Loz grabbed it, looked up at the clock and kicked it into touch sideways. JP ever one to look for contention checked with the TMO that in fact that it was on 39:59. From the ensuing lineout Care managed the dummy to the openside well enough and then dummied again to the winger. He bundled over on the touchline. A bit of a wobbly kick went over to allow Quins an 11 point halftime lead.   

In the second half Saracens are pretty well in control all the way through. The Quins defence is good in parts, but no single man on the pitch, even Robshaw, defends as well for Quins as JP Doyle. As a long term Saracens fan I still haven’t forgiven him for the Waller non-try and the advantage over at Gloucester. However in the second half he excelled even himself and Graham Hughes. Saracens start to batter the Quins line. No more dropped passes, its all phase after phase of penetrative running. Some phases come to nothing, but more make yards, good yards, until Sarries are up to the line. Billy comes in close to the ruck in a hole left by Robshaw standing perhaps too close at guard. Billy goes through the gap, Robshaw tries to react, but his tackle is ineffective and he falls off allowing Billy to walk in.

On the replay we see that on the way in, he has run straight into JP Doyle and it looks like it hurt. The replays come through, in real time and in slow motion; I’ve watched them again today. The only person Doyle impedes is Billy, he slows Billy down slightly so Robshaw gets an arm. Robshaw can see Billy coming, he moves sideways to take him, as by the time he makes those 2 yards Billy would have been past him. Everyone in the stadium including the TMO says try. JP disallows it and there is a scrum. From the scrum there are more drives; another penalty. Kick to the corner, more drives until Burger and Wray latched onto him, driven from behind by Billy gets over the line. Doyle cannot say anything except to award the try

From the kickoiff, Sarries collect, roll off the maul and make 15 yards before Spencer is bundled into touch. Quins overthrow the lineout, Sarries collect and two phases later Maitland is being pulled back by a seatbelt in the Quins 22. Penalty not for that, but for not rolling away. Kick to the corner. In the lineout, Isikwe is taken out, the ball goes loose and Jamie almost makes it into the corner. The next lineout drives almost to the line but Robshaw lying on bodies, feet off the ground supporting his body weight by osmosis wins a penalty for not releasing. From the kick Quins almost get past halfway; they spend quite a while trying but eventually kick and Sanjay, Maitland and Goode run a lovely little interpassing movement from their own 22 up to the Quins 22. After a couple of phases the ball is driven and recycled before Strettle carves in on the other wing. JP Moment number 2.

There is a bit of a pulling, pushing shoving sillYbuggers between Sangay and Care which JP announces that Care starts. Net result is that both players get a yellow card which is probably fair; but the try is disallowed. I’m assuming that since Saracens end with the penalty, it is awarded against one of them and then reversed about 3 or 4 times. One of those reversals happens before the try is scored so its disallowed. Maybe JP understands why the try is disallowed but again nobody in the stadium does either. Anyway Saracens end up with a 5 yard penalty, which after a kick to the corner a scrum goes to Quins for a knock-on. JP gets remiked as perhaps the previous one implodes with stupidity. In the meantime Quins are penalised 3 times more (still no card) and Skelton makes a similar run to Billy and converts. Fortunately, JP is nowhere near so the try stands and finally Sarries take the lead. There is 20 minutes still to go

Quins finally make it into the Sarries half but not past the 10 yard line when Skelton deliberately knocks on as he goes in to tackle. I’m pretty sure he knew exactly what he was doing and Smith makes it 20-20. From the restart two Quins players collide in the air and Sarries truckle it up into the 22. The ball goes wide and there is an overlap. Mike Brown does the exact same tackle knockon that Skelton does; same intent. Only in JP world, is it a scrum, so it is. Still Sarries keep battering down the Quins defence, which is excellent at keeping them at bay until eventually Skelton comes in on another angled run close to the ruck and scores. Sarries are now 7 points up and with 12 minutes for the bonus point.

The Quins linout is also falling apart as they lose 3 in a row. It’s not helpful as they kick a penalty to touch only to lose possession. The game though is now being played between the 22s. Quins are trying hard but the Sarries defence is solid. Sarries are also unable to make those thrusts that got them deep into the Quins half. Dave Ward is also trying to do a passable impression of Dan Cole by giving away 2 penalties in an many minutes. Its kickable so Alex takes it; Loz had gone off a little while before. It’s a terrible kick almost hits the corner flag. The restart 22 is collected, run down the minute on the clock and then put into touch.

Skelton deservedly gets man of the match. There some positive points. Jamie George looks a better player than before he went to England; so does Billy. Ben Earl has a great match from the bench. Someone though needs to put an arm around Loz. He has dropped a lot in the last year; Slade has taken his England place and with Joseph back he won’t return. I’m not even sure he is above Tompkins. Get him back to his best 

Williams; Strettle, Lozowski, Barritt (capt), Maitland; Goode, Spencer; Lamositele, George, Koch, Skelton, Isiekwe, Wray, Burger, Vunipola.

Woolstencroft, Barrington, Judge, Kpoku, Earl, Taylor, Malins, Tompkins.

bin: Williams (54)

Brown; Earle, Marchant, Tapuai, Chisholm; Smith, Care; Marler, Elia, Sinckler, Symons, Horwill (co-capt), Clifford, Robshaw (co-capt), Dombrandt.

Ward, Boyce, Collier, Merrick, Bothma, Hidalgo-Clyne, Catrakilis, Alofa.

bin: Symons (38), Care (54)

JP Doyle.


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25/03/2019 17:26
Thanks Jeremy - not much controversy there then!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2019:04:03:17:45:44 by Darraghgirl.

TonyTaff (IP Logged)
25/03/2019 18:50
The Sunshine Home in Dublin awaits Doyle!

£721.05 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage []

Please read and submit articles for publication. (*) As at October 31, 2018.

PhillFez (IP Logged)
26/03/2019 10:52
A very good summary of the game and the supporters' views. The JP thread adds more details but it remains a puzzle. There might be comment/explanation on the Rugby Club.

EnfieldMal (IP Logged)
26/03/2019 15:14
I couldnít get to the match due to being ill on the day so had to watch/listen on TV. Of the 2 scratched off Sarries tryís, on TV they were explained as: Strettle, the scrap took place before the try was scored. If Williams hadnít committed a.foul against Care in retaliation the try would have stood. According to the TV If the try scoring team commit a foul in the lead up to a try the try doesnít stand. So correct decision to wipe it out. Billyís; I donít think Robshaw was impeded but on the replays it is possible he was & in that case it should be wiped out. I know the TMO advised JP that Robshaw wasnít impeded but I like the fact he made his own mind up & not be persuaded by the TMO like ďthe final ď.

Much worse than JP were the co-commentators with poor Nick Mullins. Dallaglio is flaky with his knowledge of the laws of the game at the best of times but combine this with his obvious dislike of us as a team & his hope after the 1st half that he would see us lose he was absolutely appalling. Ugo has a similar problem with the laws but compared to Dallaglio he was positively a genius on them on Saturday.

Itís strange with Dallsglio he appears to like our players & often praises them but he obviously really dislikes us as a team. A real Jekyll & Hyde situation for him

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