The five-time Premiership champions made a successful return to the first tier on Friday, beating Bristol Bears 26-9 following a second-half resurgence via the boot of Alex Lozowski
Saracens proved a season in the second tier hasn’t had any long-lasting effects after they earned a 26-9 win over Bristol Bears in their return to the Premiership on Friday evening.
Having both entered the 2021/22 campaign among the favourites to lift the title come June, the result served as a warning to the rest of England that Sarries are coming to reclaim their crown.
Alex Lewington scored the only try at Ashton Gate after 69 minutes, highlighting just how heavy a focus was placed on kicking for the majority of the match.
Stand-in Saracens fly-half Alex Lozowski reigned king in that domain, however, and converted 21 points from the tee before chipping through for his winger to dot down late on.
Mirror Sport discusses some of the major moments and talking points following a tense curtain-raiser on this Premiership campaign.
Discipline beats dynamism every time
The regulars at Ashton Gate are used to seeing Bristol feast in open play, but the Bears were left feeding off of scraps at this particular picnic.
While it was the hosts who made the more dazzling breaks through the likes of Charles Piutau and Harry Thacker on the night, those statistics mean little when up against the scoreboard.
To put that into context, Bristol carried for 363 metres on the night, almost triple that of their guests, and yet Mark McCall’s men came away with almost three times as many points.
Saracens were superior at the scrum and did enough at the breakdown to earn the penalties required for Lozowski to score big, even if it wasn’t the most glamorous of wins.
Do you think Saracens will win the Premiership title in their first season back? Let us know in the comments section.
Sarries still pack bite without absent Lions
There’s no doubt which of these two squads has been affected more by the 10-week stand-down period affecting most British and Irish Lions playing in the Premiership, but even that couldn’t stop Sarries in Bristol.
McCall can still look forward to seeing the likes of Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Maro Itoje and Jamie George return, while Sean Maitland, Max Malins and Vincent Koch are also due for a comeback.
It’s a scary proposition for the rest of the Premiership that the five-time champions can look so effective, and yet have so much talent still to re-enter the squad.
Rugby’s reliance on kicking needs a solution
One thing painfully clear in the first half is that rugby can still exhibit a tendency to fall into bouts of kick tennis that benefit very few, least of all the spectator.
The opening 40 minutes featured no fewer than 49 boots out of hand in total, a tally one can only hope is down to opening-day nerves.
Not that the rest of the sport need model itself on its southern-hemisphere equivalent, but there are parts of Super Rugby’s run-positive outlook that many coaches and players alike could do with embracing.
No fortune for 50-22 — yet
Speaking of the kicking game, there were no successful sightings of the newly trialled 50-22 rule on Friday, doing away with any predictions that the Premiership is on course for a revolution.
The new law promises to transform parts of the game in theory, giving those teams able to consistently execute it a big advantage, but doing so still appears to be easier said than done.
The sooner Radradra returns, the better
While Saracens were without a number of their biggest names, Fijian flyer Semi Radradra is one in particular whom Pat Lam can’t welcome back soon enough.
The 29-year-old has been delayed in his comeback after detouring to his native land after winning Sevens gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, having dazzled in his maiden Premiership season last term.
Team-mate Piutau was left with a lot of the running responsibilities as a result on Friday, and Bristol will be desperate to get Radradra back in order to see their carrying return to its best.