MATCH REPORT | London Irish 32-30 Saracens Men
Saracens Men suffered a heartbreaking final minute defeat as Paddy Jackson’s kick with the last play of the match secured London Irish a 32-30 win at the Brentford Community Stadium.
The Men in Black battled back and it looked as if they would take the victory after Lozowski’s 78th minute conversion gave them a 30-29 lead, but then a last gasp penalty stole victory from their grasp.
It was the dream start for the hosts who opened the scoring with just three minutes on the clock. In typical Irish style they turned the ball over and then their offloading game took them all the way to the line, creating a huge overlap on the left wing which allowed Benhard van Rensburg to stroll over in the corner. The conversion came back off the post, but Irish had an early 5-0 lead.
Sarries responded a few minutes later after a moment of brilliance from Theo McFarland got them some much needed territory. He plucked the ball out of the sky and then Alex Lozowski grubbered deep in to the Irish 22. The pressure in the chase forced a five metre scrum, and then from the resulting penalty Lozowski dissected the posts to cut the deficit to just two points.
The visitors were enjoying much more possession and they were dominating the territory, but once again on the counter attack Irish struck to the frustration of the travelling fans.
A penalty was kicked in to the Saracens 22 and the hosts moved the ball from side to side quickly, eventually creating another overlap for van Rensburg to score his second of the match. Paddy Jackson’s touchline conversion extended their lead to 12-3.
The Men in Black were then chasing the game and looked to add more tempo ahead of the break. Nick Isiekwe broke down the right wing as he gathered Ben Earl’s smart offload, but just as space opened up on the right he was isolated and Irish turned it over.
The pressure eventually told just three minutes before the break as Tom Woolstencroft continued his scoring streak with a much needed try. Three consecutive penalties took Sarries right up to the line, and then the rolling maul power over with the hooker at the base. Lozowski’s impressive conversion meant his side trailed by just two points.
That was how it stayed until half time, with Sarries knowing they would need a much improved second 40 to come away with the win.
Irish came flying out of the blocks in the second half and scored just 30 seconds after the restart. Ruben de Haas looked to box kick but Adam Coleman charged it down and then gathered to make it the perfect start for the hosts. Jackson’s conversion meant Sarries trailed 19-10.
Ben Earl then came incredibly close to hitting straight back as he raced away from a breakdown to within 10 metres of the line, but just as the ball was heading out of the ruck it went forward of a Saracens hand.
They then turned the screw and started their route back in to the match. A string of penalties for the hosts saw Sean O’Brien sent to the sin-bin, and from the penalty Lozowski cut the deficit to six points.
Irish then got some much needed points after a monstrous kick from Jackson edged them further ahead, and as we headed in to the final quarter the visitors knew they needed a big effort to get back in to the game.
Sarries then struck out of nowhere to get themselves back within striking range. Some neat hands in the midfield created space out wide which opened up the channel for Rotimi Segun, and he was never going to be caught. Lozowski’s conversion which went in off the post meant it was a two point game with 20 minutes to go.
Disappointingly though for the North Londoners Irish hit straight back to regain control of the match. They were constantly edging closer to the liner with a huge carries from their forwards, and then again they went wide with Ollie Hassell-Collins there to stroll over in the corner. Jackson’s excellent conversion re-instated their nine point lead.
A crucial series of scrum penalties then took Sarries deep in to the 22, and Lozowski opted for the points to make it a six point game with just over five minutes remaining.
Alex Lewington then broke on the left wing and rampaged to within striking distance before being taken out high by Adam Coleman with a head on head collision. It resulted in a red card for the Irish second-rower, and then Sarries struck what looked like a crucial blow.
The penalty was kicked to the corner and the maul powered over with Nick Tompkins breaking away to score in dramatic circumstances. That meant Lozowski needed to convert from the touchline, and that’s exactly what he did to give his side a one point lead.
From the kick off Irish turned the ball over and then the visitors were penalised, allowing Jackson to get the win with the final kick of the match.
Saracens now have their bye week and will look to recharge before welcoming Leicester Tigers to StoneX on Saturday 5th March.