Saracens begin Championship campaign with shock 25-17 loss to Cornish Pirates… despite boasting 165 Test match caps in their starting XV
- Saracens lost to Cornish Pirates in the first round of the Championship season
- Their side boasted World Cup-winning prop Vincent Koch, and Sean Maitland
- Mark McCall’s men were outdone by Rhodri Davies’ classy counter-attacking try
Saracens’ bid for what was widely assumed to be a near-automatic immediate return to the English Premiership suffered a stunning setback on Saturday when they were beaten 25-17 by Cornish Pirates in their first game of the Championship season.
Saracens, four-times Premiership champions and three-times European Cup winners in the last five years, were relegated last season as a punishment for multiple salary cap breaches.
Although the majority of their international players were absent, they still fielded a team boasting 165 test caps – including South Africa’s World Cup-winning prop Vincent Koch.
Cornish Pirates celebrated a famous 25-17 victory against hot favourites Saracens on Saturday
The visitors boasted the likes of South Africa’s World Cup-winning prop Vincent Koch (left)
The former Dragons scrum-half Rhodri Davies (bottom) scored the winning try for the Pirates
That was widely considered to be more than good enough for them to begin their campaign with a straightforward victory at the Penzance ground they last visited in 2003.
Saracens led 17-15 early in the second half after tries for current and former Scotland internationals Sean Maitland and Tim Swinson and one for Alex Lewington.
The Pirates, however, playing their first competitive home game for over a year, were dominant in the pack and always in the game through tries by Tom Duncan and Dan Frost and the goalkicking of the inspirational Luke Scully.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall saw his side lose at Mennaye Field in Penzance
Gavin Cattle saw his Pirates side beat Saracens in the first round of the Championship season
Saracens will hope the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Jamie George will return soon
The hosts deservedly took the prized scalp when Rhodri Davies touched down after a superb counter-attack.
Saracens have plenty of time to get back on course in the shortened two-conference Championship season which culminates with a two-legged playoff to decide who goes up.
But they may want the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Jamie George back in club colours more quickly than they might have imagined.
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