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GLASGOW SUFFER FROM WIND - RENNIES ALL ROUND ON MONDAY
First things first. My first sighting of a Glasgow Warriors supporter on Sunday was a Scot wearing a kilt. My sister in Scotland is passionately proud of our Highland heritage, and her wardrobe includes no fewer than three versions of the many, nine or ten, variants of the Gordon clan septs, as the tartan patterns are correctly called. One of her plaids is Dress Gordon. So, when I saw a Scotsman wearing the pattern, I said “Nice to see the Dress Gordon.” Cue misunderstanding and a cold weather front, because he heard me say “Nice to see the dress, Gordon.” Not to worry, I escaped the dreaded Glasgow Kiss, and moved swiftly on to see the end of the warm-up drills.
SARRIES ARE REMAINERS IN EUROPE
After 5 spectacular rounds of Phenomenal European action, Sarries remain in the European Champions Cup, currently the only team to have a q next to their name, it's only a small q but Saracens will be looking to change that to a large Q and qualify with a home Quarter final as long as they beat Glasgow Warriors this weekend at Allianz Park.
So all in all a pretty good weekend then. We arrived in Lyon after a relaxing, easy and punctual trip on Eurostar and SNCF. I was a little surprised to find our hotel room on the 36th floor of the Tour de Crayon but the view across the city was amazing. Friday dinner was arranged by our travelling companions Mr and Mrs Farmer at L’institut -the late Chef Lyonnaise, Paul Bocuse’s training kitchen and it was VERY good. Michelin star food at affordable prices!
AN AMAZING ESCAPE
A top of the table London derby match against Quins, probably part 2 of 3 to decide this years champion team in the Tyrell’s Premier 15 was ample reason to turn up at Allianz Park on a chilly afternoon. Previous matches have seen Sarries dominate the tight stuff and squeeze out Quins attacking threat, but usually only by a few points, this a close rivalry of 2 evenly matched teams.
A WEEKEND IN LYON
So time for a period of French leave! Sarries have struggled in the past 3 league games, gathering just 5 of the 15 points on offer and, more to the point, looking out of sorts. A change is as good as a rest they say so hopefully a different competition and a change of scenery will do the trick. Lyon is a city with good memories for Saracens – the site of their first European Champions Cup victory in 2016. This stadium may not be quite so grand but hopefully the positive vibes from the Grande Stade de Lyon will drift across the city to the Stade de Gerland.
Sarries fumble, stumble, grumble, tumble
Let’s get the good news out of the way, it will take one sentence. Billy Vunipola is back, fit and his from was a welcome part of the Sarries armoury this evening.
Saracens begin 2019 with a Friday night visit to the frozen North, aka Salford. They take on Sale at a time when the Sharks have hit a rich vein of form. In fact Sale haven’t lost in the league since they visited Allianz Park back in November, losing a close game 31-25. Since then they have beaten Northampton, ground out a 7-7 draw with Bath and then produced back to back victories over the festive season, beating Bristol at home before producing their best performance so far with a bonus point away win at Castle Grim last weekend.
AFTERALL- IT'S A WIN
Allianz was full of post-Christmas cheer: a decent crowd, good-natured and pleased to escape from the in-laws, the drummers, a frisky camel and plenty of Christmas Jumpers. There were even a few flocks of parakeets flying around in the sunset. Buoyed by an unexpected Christmas Present from our neighbours up the M1 (who kindly defeated Chiefs last night - although did they have to let them get that 4th try at the end?), most of us were expecting a bounce-back: a return to the real Saracens rather than the pale imitation which headed to the West country last weekend.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WINNERS
So Santa’s back at the North Pole for another year and thoughts turn to our match with Wuss on Saturday. Let’s hope the team found a bit of stardust in their stockings after the rather abject performance last weekend in Devon. But just take a moment to think how different it might have been. Had Sarries turned the territory and possession they displayed for the first 15 minutes of the match into points, they would have been over the Exmoor hills and probably already too far away. But they didn’t (something that is a tad worrying in recent matches), Exeter came back and the rest is history.
SARRIES: OUT-THOUGHT, OUT-FOUGHT, OUT-OF-SORTS SO GET NOUGHT
This was always going to be a battle of wills, discipline and skills. We could expect Exeter Chiefs to do what they do, and it was safe to assume that they’d bring their A-game back home after working it so well recently at Kingsholm. There is much debate on their tribal notice-board about whether they have a Plan-B, but mostly they don’t need one when Plan-A functions. Sarries, on the other hand, were unlikely to bring their A-game to Sandy Park. It has been seen infrequently this season: they came into this game leading the Gallagher Premiership and topping their pool in Heineken Europe, but nobody could claim that they had played at anything like their best in either competition for more than about half of any game.