Men’s 1st XV v Tigers (9 Nov ’18)

It was a hard fought game at Al Ghazal for the Sarries Mens 1st XV. Despite one of their best performances top of the table Dubai Tigers managed to score penalty goal at the 80th minute to secure a 21-24 win.

While Sarries started strongly The Tigers managed an early converted try within the first 5 minutes. An Achilles heal of Sarries has been a slow start to the game, however their strength is & always will always be their ability to fight back. This determination lead to Rohan Vorster (13) crossing the line for a converted try only 4 minutes later. A subsequent penalty goal from Stefan Van Zyl (15) and drop goal from Capt Jonathan Taylor (7) took Sarries out to a 13-7 lead at the half time break.

Predictably the Tigers came out fighting with an early try after the break to again see Sarries recoup to fight back with another penalty goal to Stefan Van Zyl (15), but only to see The Tigers cross for a further converted try. Sarries’ defence began to become more and more effective with some determined line speed and aggressive tackling. Vice Captain Lucien Ruiters (10) managed to capitalise on a loose ball to kick through, regather and race over for another Sarries try at the 64th minute. Unfortunately the conversion was off the mark leaving the scoreline 21-21.

The final 15 minutes saw both teams rally with some fierce attacking lines and strong defence. At the 80th minute The Tigers were awarded a penalty from a ruck infringement 25 metres out & directly in front of the Sarries goal posts. The penalty was successful with the game declared over. Naturally The Tigers players were jubilant while at the expense of the heart broken Sarries supporters and players.

While disappointed at the loss the Saracens Mens 1st XV can take away the fact that their progress and improvement is definitely there. We must continue to work on our fitness & discipline: 2 things that can leave us exposed. Our ball retention must be regarded as uncompromising. Giving our opposition possession from hard fought efforts is something we will continue to work on and improve. As a team we have a quiver of attacking weapons however we must be able to utilise them all with confidence! We know we have another 10%-15% to improve on: something that while not easy to achieve is something that will make tight games into secured wins.

Man of the match was Kurt Ohlsen whose game at no. 8 was superb. His courage at the breakdown to secure our ball and attack the opposition’s ball was brilliant all game. Special mention also must go to Joel Lane for another standout performance of being that strong & reliable weapon up front. In fact, and once again, the entire tight 5 were strong. Winger Francesco Balastrieri was dominant at the kickoffs allowing Sarries to begin the restart deep into the opposition’s 22. His ability to turn defence into attack as well as speed with ball in hand was inspiring for all the team and spectators.

The results of the weekend’s games see Sarries middle of the table despite pushing the top of the table team to their closest game yet. We will be excited to welcome back our French contingent (“Les Bleurs”) in Sarries jerseys to bolster what is already a formidable and strong team.

Sadly this game saw us farewell one of the Club’s best. We said goodbye to Morne Basson to our regular 15’s team in typical Sarries Family style. On behalf of all Sarries who came before you, those with you today and those who will follow in your legacy, THANK YOU MORNE.

Saracens Men now will focus on the upcoming Sevens and Vets 10’s for the Dubai 7’s at the end of November. Our next home game is not until 14th December when we take on the Dubai Sharks away.