Men’s 1st XV v Dubai Knights (11 Jan ’19)

We made a conscious decision to begin 2019 from a higher platform from where we left 2018. While happy & confident with our form we knew we could raise the bar even further, & continue to do so into 2019.

Our match against the Knights gave us the ability to expose our depth of players to the pressures of starting for the 1st XV as well as develop more strength to the depth we have worked so hard to create. We were able to consider player positions & options & assess what & where we needed to work on amongst our ranks. To that end I am confident we succeeded & utilised the full capacity of our players ranks.

The game started slowly for Sarries. From the videos it was evident we had the energy running on to the pitch but it took 15 minutes for us to “get into the game”. In those first 15 mins we saw some strong attacks close to & on our line which were match only by our well executed defence & commitment at the fringes of the ruck. Great commitment & great determination to have held the Knights out as the players did.

This was the wake up call we needed in order to get into the rhythm we train for & structure we know how to play in. The momentum changed & it was from there Sarries began to really step up the pace. This momentum really was evident when strong runs were made by players like Alexandre Lassut, we capitilised on the metres gained, did not panic, re-formed our structure to force 2 more well performed phases which allowed us to score a fantastic team try which began deep in our own territory.

10 minutes before the second half saw many of the bench take the field. We wanted to build on the platform created & now turn the pressure into a strangle-hold of the game. Mairihia Taraufau bought some fantastic strength to our scrum & did everything asked of him, & more. He was replaced by Silipeleto Kavaufea who entered the game with his typical passion & fire – taking off from where Tara had so well left us. Johannes Fourie regained his superb 7’s form to set a strong foundation & was replaced by our try scoring machine Francesco Balestrieri. Matt Luxmoore was replaced by Stefan Van Zyl as he moved from the wing to halfback in order to allow Marcel Botha on to the other wing. Our locks (Mario & Hans) were extraordinary in the game play – thank you. Mario Toral was replaced to nurse a niggling hamstring injury as Kurt Ohlsen took the field to be the breakdown legend he’s become. Lastly & by no means least is whom we all know & respect to be one of the best players honouring the Sarries jersey, Stephan Marty came on to give Armando Kruger a well deserved break from the amazing work he does week in & week out.

From a 19-0 lead at half time Sarries ended the game as 60-0 victors on our home ground. What was most pleasing to see as a coach was that after every try our players were running back into position demanding “one more” from themselves. We showed our opposition the respect to not take our foot off the accelerator but to play till the final whistle. When we made errors we fixed them & re-gained our structure within a 1 or 2 minutes – something that we have been working on all season.

Hans Taniform was a deserved Man of the Match for his composure & amazing play all game, closely followed by Mario Toral & the ever incumbent Joel Lane: our tight forwards leading the charge.
Well done Sarries. We continue to improve every week. This Friday 18th January sees us playing agains the Dubai Eagles in Dubai.