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#NewStadium #Saracens

Saracens win a thrilling first rugby union match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Sat 26 March 2022, 18:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Saracens edged a dramatic clash against Bristol Bears 27-23 in the first ever rugby union match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

It looked like Bristol had snatched a late, late victory when Joe Joyce broke away inside the final minute of ‘The Showdown 2’ in the Gallagher Premiership, drew the last defender, Elliot Daly, and passed for Jack Bates to run in a try for a 28-27 lead. With 79.23 on the clock, Bears’ conversion would have ended the game.

However, replays showed that Joyce’s pass to Bates had gone forward, so the try was chalked off and Saracens held onto their 27-23 lead, the final scoreline.

It was a fitting end to a cracking encounter played in a wonderful atmosphere at our stadium. It was a carnival occasion, a Batala drum band provided the beat on the High Road as fans arrived in the sunshine, many in fancy dress, to take part in this historic occasion.

The big guns were certainly out for Saracens, with 13 of their starting 15 current or former internationals, including the likes of rugby giants Owen Farrell, the skipper just back from injury, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly, all England and British Lions stars and Vincent Koch, World Cup winner with South Africa in 2019.

There were five tries and 40 points in an end-to-end first half. Bears struck first through Antoine Frisch, Max Malins replied for Saracens only for Piers O’Conor put Bears back in front at 12-7. Farrell kicked two penalties to edge Sarries back in front but then Tiff Eden kicked a penalty and scored Bears’ third try for a 20-13 lead on 37 minutes.

There was still time for Saracens to hit back again, this time Spurs fan Alex Lozowski broke before finding Daly, who scored in the corner. Farrell popped over the conversion for 20-20 at half-time.

Malins darted between two tackles to put Sarries back in front at 25-20 five minutes into the second half, converted by Farrell for 27-20. Nick Tompkins thought he’d stretched that to 32-20 only for his try to be ruled out for an earlier knock-on.

Callum Sheedy’s penalty brought the Bears back to 27-23 and we were all set for a tense finish. Bears had a kickable penalty in the 70th minute, but kicked to the corner instead, only to give away a penalty five metres out. Sarrries then broke forward, also won a penalty, also opted to kick to touch and this time, lost the line-out. A minute later, it looked like Joyce and Bates had won it for the Bears, but Joyce’s forward pass meant Sarries held on.

Match data

Saracens: 1 Barrington, 2 George, 3 Koch, 4 Itoje, 5 Isiekwe, 6 Wray, 7 Earl, 8 Vunipola, 9 Davies, 10 Farrell (c), 11 Daly, 12 Tompkins, 13 Lozowski, 14 Malins, 15 Goode. Replacements: Woolstencroft, Mawi, Wainwright, Swinson, Christie, De Haas, Taylor, Maitland.

Bristol Bears: 1 Woolmore, 2 Thacker, 3 Armstrong, 4 Attwood, 5 Joyce (c), 6 Vui, 7 Thomas, 8 Harding, 9 Randall, 10 Eden, 11 Bates, 12 Frisch, 13 O’Conor, 14 Leiua, 15 Lane. Replacements: Kerr, Thomas, Afoa, Jeffries, Green, Sheedy, Radradra, Piutau.

Tries: Saracens - Malins 11, 45, Daly 40; Bears - Frisch 4, O’Conor 24, Eden 37.

Conversions: Saracens - Farrell 12, 40, 46; Bears - Eden 4.

Penalties: Saracens - Farrell 27, 32; Bears - Eden 35, Sheedy 64.