A special day
What a day to remember for all involved at the Gardens. It isn’t very often you get to play in a final in your rugby career. Let alone a home final, in front of all your supporters who come rain or shine willing you on. It just so happens that this final we came up against our worst enemies of years gone by. Saracens. Now if you are a saints fan you will have endured more than your fair share of painful afternoons watching Saracens against Saints. But Sunday afternoon wasn’t to be one of them.
Saracens played a relatively young side, the same kind of team that had got them all the way to the final. Fair play to them, they had a lot of academy graduates and a lot of boys who haven’t played that much in the League this year. We on the other hand played what looked slightly more like a regular starting 15. The thing people forget is that this year our starting 15 or 23 has had a lot of young academy boys playing in it anyway. The likes of James Fish, Alex Moon, Lewis Ludlem, Alex Mitchell, George Furbank, Rory Hutchinson and myself have all played a lot of first team rugby this year which is massively positive for the club. I think that the neutrals may have forgotten that we had a lot of young lads playing as well. The game started quite slowly with both teams forcing a few errors, as you’d expect in a final with nerves slightly more than normal. Saracens as usual were menacing at the break down with Ben Earl causing us issues. Their back row was fast to the ball and slowing it up massively. Saracens took the lead, but we came back straight away with a well worked try down the touchline for Teimana Harrison. Sarries then kicked another couple of penalties to extend their lead slightly. This is when two quick fire tries one from Ah See Tuala and one from Tom Wood took us out to a 8 point lead at half time. We were happy with our first half performance, but were under no illusions that Saracens wouldn’t stop fighting and they would come out of the blocks flying in the second half. The key for us was to go out and keep applying pressure, keep forcing Sarries to play from deep and take points when we entered their 22. This happened in the second half with us scoring two more penalties. The last 10 minutes was a big defensive effort from all the lads, with boys going down with cramp left right and centre. We dug in and held them out to get a historical home final win for the saints. It was a day to remember for all involved, players, fans and staff.
We lifted the trophy and did a lap of honour in front of the stadium, which everyone stayed to watch! This was a very memorable moment for myself, seeing my friends, family and girlfriend up in the stands waving and cheering. It was a moment I’ll cherish for a long time!
However our attention swiftly changes from winning a cup and enjoying a couple of beers with each other, to our clash with our old mates down the road on Friday night. This is when we travel away from home to take on Leicester tigers back in the Gallagher Premiership. The league is very tight at the moment and if we want to get into the top 4 this year it is crucial we go there and come away with a win! Fingers crossed we can go and attack as we did on Sunday, with freedom and confidence and defend like we did on Sunday with desperation and hunger to work for each other. If we do that I’m sure we’ll come out on the right side of the result.
As always thank you for all your support! I hope you managed to get to the game on Sunday, it was most definitely one for the memory book. I look forward to seeing you all at the Saints when we take on Gloucester on the 4th of April.
*Featured photo taken by Pinnacle Photography*