There were a number of Sarries players representing their countries in the Autumn International series that finished at the start of December, with most seeing great success. We saw Titi Lamositele in action for the USA, Sean Maitland impressing for Scotland and Vincent Koch lining up against some of his new team mates for South Africa. There was also six Saracens called up by Eddie Jones with Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Alex Goode, George Kruis and Billy & Mako Vunipola all playing for England.
Titi Lamositele was in action for the USA Eagles in two of their three games. The 21-year old started at lose head prop against both the Maori All Blacks in Chicago and Romania in Bucharest. Both teams proved too much for the emerging Eagles team as they fell to 7-54 and 10-23 defeats respectively.
Following a fantastic start to his Saracens career, Sean Maitland was recalled to the Scotland team for their Autumn Tests. The versatile back started on the wing for all three of Scotland’s fixtures against Australia, Argentina and Georgia. Sean was able to carry his great club form on to the international scene as he was able to run in tries in the victories against both Argentina and Georgia. In the rematch of the contentious World Cup quarter final, Scotland were unable to hold off the Wallabies as they again fell to defeat in the dying minutes as they lost 22-23 after a last gasp try from the visitors.
Another new Saracen was in action as Vincent Koch continued his burgeoning international career as he started in two of South Africa’s fixtures against Italy and England, where he scrummed down against new team mate Mako Vunipola. Unfortunately for Vincent and his team mates, they fell to historic defeats in both matches, losing to England for the first time in 10 years 37-21 and for the first time ever to Italy 20-18. South Africa are a team in transition though, and Koch looks to be becoming a feature of the Springboks team going forwards.
England managed to complete their perfect year as they went four out of four in their autumn tests with a strong contingent of Sarries starring in each match. In the first fixture, against South Africa, Eddie Jones selected 4 Saracens players, with the Vunipola brothers and Owen Farrell all starting, whilst Jamie George came off the bench in the second half. Whilst Mako was strong in the set piece and Billy’s carrying created holes all over the pitch, it was Farrell who was the real star as he racked up 19 points through a combination of penalties, conversions and a try, lining up at Inside Centre in the 37-21 victory.
Changes in the line-up for the following week against Fiji saw Alex Goode brought into the starting XV, taking the number of Saracens featured up to 5. Farrell again excelled with the boot, notching up 4 conversions and a single penalty, taking his England career tally to over 500 points. Meanwhile Alex Goode managed to score his first England try, and the team’s sixth of the day, following a superb assist by Mako Vunipola after 49 minutes which ended the emerging Fijian fightback.
England’s 27-14 win against Argentina in the third week was the scrappiest of series but no less impressive following a red card to England Wing Elliot Daly in the fifth minute. Goode was unlucky to miss out on the squad, but George Kruis was brought straight back into the starting line-up after recovering from an ankle injury, keeping the number of Sarries in the squad to 5. The contest was built for the Vunipola brothers and their strong carrying abilities. Billy was particularly outstanding until he was forced off with a knee injury late in the first half. This sparked a comeback from the Pumas that came to no avail as the unerring boot of Owen Farrell kept the Argentinians at bay.
The climax of the series came when England took on Australia on December 3rd. The best match of the autumn featured four Saracens players as Billy Vunipola had to miss out due to injury. After a fast start from the tourists, England were able to claw their way back through the boot of Farrell as he notched up a total of 3 penalties and 3 conversions during the game. But it was his playmaking skills that really shone as the England backs cut loose in the second half, finishing with 5 tries in total. It’s been a great year for all the Sarries boys that have represented England, with the 37-21 victory over Australia signalling their 14th in a row and leaving them undefeated for the whole of 2016.