Saracens defeat Irish in the USA
The first Premiership game outside of England saw Saracens sneak past London Irish 26-16 at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Alex Goode'’s solo try put Saracens into the lead before Irish hit back through Lewington.
It took until the final minute to split the sides apart, with Nick Tompkins going over in the final minute at the Red Bull Arena. In a history-maker, the Premiership moved temporarily over to America as London Irish and Saracens faced off.
The Red Bull Arena normally hosts the New York Red Bulls football team, but switched sports as bottom of the table Irish looked to salvage something in a dismal season.
It was Irish who started the better and thought they’'d scored the first try of the game.
Lewington looked to have gone over in the corner, but the TMO ruled it out and play returned to a penalty. They took the lead from the resulting kick though, debutant Greig Tonks kicking safely through.
Ben Spencer struck a post with his first effort two minutes later, before America saw its first Premiership try. It was a wondrous piece of play by Goode, jinking past a host of challenges before grounding and letting Spencer convert to put Saracens into a four-point lead.
Irish responded from the off though, with Lewington going over. It came following quick Exiles interplay and Tonks put the conversion safely though to continue his bright start in Irish colours.
It was Tonks’' side who were really impressing and they went close again to getting their first try, but for a timely Mike Ellery challenge, they would have taken the lead having opened up a heap of space.
The Premiership’'s bottom side continued to break away with Tonks firing another three-pointer through, whilst Spencer missed one for his side.
The Exiles' first 40 minutes saw them deservedly go into the break with a 13-7 lead against an out-of-sorts Sarries.
Goode took over kicking duties for the start of the second half and sent his first penalty through the posts to reduce the gap back to three points.
And within 10 minutes of the restart, he’d levelled it up at 13 points apiece. Irish were starting to lose their cool as well as their lead, conceding numerous penalties.
With Goode in fine form, that was not the best of ideas as he sent through three more points to edge Saracens back in front.
But such was the nature of this one, Irish were next to hit back through the impressive Tonks, taking advantage of some poor defending to pull the scores back level with 20 minutes to play.
The makeshift hosts continued to cause some panic in the Saracens backline, but they couldn’t work the space and get what would have been a crucial second try.
With 10 minutes to play, Goode retook the lead through another perfectly executed penalty before Irish threw everything they could forward in order to take something from the game.
But that hope was ripped apart in the final minute. Nick Tompkins launched himself infront of an attempted clearance kick before racing down the field and grounding to seal the tie for Saracens. Goode’'s conversion put real gloss on the scoreline, and Saracens left the Red Bull Arena with a 26-16 victory.
For London Irish:
Pens: Tonks 3
Tries: Goode, Tompkins
Cons: Spencer, Goode
Pens: Goode 4
London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Tom Smallbone, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Halani Aulika, 4 Matt Symons, 5 Elliott Stooke, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Rob McCusker
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Court, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 4 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jared Saunders, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 David Porecki, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Ben Ransom
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Ross Campbell
TMO: David Grashoff