August 23 2020
Today I am multi-tasking. The plan is to watch the rugby and the cricket and clean the kitchen! 12.30 and I switch on BT Sport (yes we still subscribe) but nowhere can I find Saracens v Harlequins. By the time I work out I need to log on via my lap top on the app, Sarries are leading 5-0. Multitasking is relatively minimal as the cricketers haven’t restarted after a shower of rain and Mr DG has decided it’s time for a cup of tea. It appears Maitland scored early on but Faz missed the kick. So I concentrate on the rugby.
Sarries look to be on top and Faz has another kick to increase the lead. Worryingly Sarries fail again from a 5m lineout – this is becoming a bit of a pattern after last week, the rolling maul isn’t – well rolling! Down at the cricket, Buttler is living dangerously in the nervous nineties. A Pakistan review for LBW goes his way – oh no, it’s raining again! Nice work from Aled Davies puts Faz through on the left. He kicks ahead but doesn’t have the pace and Marcus Smith coolly touches down. This is looking dangerous, Quins have eeked their way into the Sarries’ red zone and have a scrum but superb Sarries’ defence seems to let them off the hook. Not to be, Quins take a scrum penalty on a Sarries put in (alarm bells ringing loudly) and from the line-out take the advantage. However fortunately for Sarries their ambition doesn’t extend beyond a drop goal to make the scores 8-3.
Cricket remains suspended – funny how a few drops of rain keep the players away for 45 minutes! Mr DG wants to clean the kitchen floor so I decamp to the dining room with laptop just in time to watch Rhodes and Lewington set Sam Crean up for a big carry towards the Quin’s try line. Somehow he finds Billy who puts Maro over for Sarries’ 2nd try which this time Faz converts. Sarries are buoyed by such riches and Faz plonks a penalty on to the Quins 5m line. In Southampton Zak Crawley opens his account for the day with a drive for 4. It looks like the maul will yet again come to nothing but somehow Sarries get the ball out and Aled Davies pounces and scores his first try on his full debut a la Ben Spencer. Mr Ridley is suspicious because Faz took the conversion very quickly but the TMO can’t find anything wrong and the try stands, 22-3. Good defence again ensures there are no further additions before the break.
Mr DG has washed the floor so I turn my attention to the cricket. Oh no! It looks like Buttler has fallen for 99. But he reviews – wishful thinking surely ? But no, snicko shows no contact between bat and ball and Buttler is reprieved. The next ball is pushed into the offside and Jos has his well-deserved century and saved his test career. We resume at Allianz/Saracens Park. My seat is clearly visible and empty. It feels very strange. I have missed very few home games over the years and to view my empty seat on TV somehow makes me sad and angry – angry at COVID, angry at the government, angry at Premiership Rugby. Mr DG, in an unusual show of empathy, produces a cup of tea.
Quins start with intent but it goes wrong and Faz increases the lead to 25-3. Quins try again but this time Jackson Wray stands his ground and forces a turnover. Tim Swinson makes his debut in place of Callum Hunter Hill, shortly followed by Juan Pablo Socino for Dom Morris. The cricketers depart for lunch as Mike Rhodes appears to land a drop goal. Harsh that Christophe Ridley had already blown his whistle – such an event is unlikely to be repeated. So another 5m line out, another drive, another turnover. What with last week and this, we seem to be lacking something. No way Exeter would have allowed so many chances to go unpunished.
Momentum for Quins and they score their first try through Lasike (on for James Lang). The TMO upholds Monsieur Ridley’s decision and Smith adds the extras. 28-10 and so the changes start, and the wheels begin to come off. Reffell for Rhodes, Baz for Crean. A successful penalty for Faz (31-10) then Manu for Brad & Koch for Ibuanokpe. Predictably Quins score through Steele while everyone is getting to know each other and Smith converts for 31-17. Jamie George leaves the (potentially) sinking ship and Lasike is over again. Marcus Smith isn’t missing these and its 31-24.
Inside the final 6 minutes and it looks like we’re desperately holding on. Mr DG wants to empty the bin so I move out the way. From nowhere Sarries land the bonus point when Obatoyinbo’s kick is touched in flight and falls perfectly for Maro who puts Lewington over for the 4th try. A lucky break but sometimes that’s what you need. Quins have nothing left and Sarries win 36-24. An entertaining game played out in an empty stadium. Better still the kitchen is clean and I can watch cricket for the rest of the afternoon!
So what is clear is that our first choice XV are up there with the best but the so-called “finishers” still have a way to go. Building up to our big game with Leinster, our forwards still look worryingly light and there is work to do on our set piece and our rolling maul both of which are liabilities rather than assets on recent viewing. Still this is a work-in-progress. We do it all again on Wednesday against Glos. Meanwhile the cricketers have done well and probably done enough to beat Pakistan for the first time in 10 years – and our kitchen is sparklingly clean! I’m off to watch some live sport – our village cricket team take on their local rivals. Can’t wait.
Saracens: Obatoyinbo, Lewington, Morris (Socino), Barritt (M Vunipola), Maitland, Farrell, Davies (Whiteley), Crean (Barrington), George (Woolstencroft), Koch (Ibuanokpe), Itoje, Hunter-Hill (Swinson), Rhodes (Reffell), Wray, B Vunipola
Harlequins: Brown, Morris, Marchant, Lang (Lasike), Earle, Smith, Landajo (Steele), Marler, Baldwin, Kerrod (Collier), Lewies (Lamb), Symons, Chisholm (Lawday), Robshaw, Dombrandt
Saracens (36): Tries – Maitland, Itoje, Davies, Lewington Cons: Farrell (3); Pens: Farrell (4)
Harlequins (24): Tries – Lasike (2) Steele; Cons: Smith (3), DG: Smith
Referee: Christophe Ridley
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2020:09:05:17:49:58 by Darraghgirl.
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Mrs Jonny tells me that compared to Mr DG Iím a poor excuse for a man....