As Saracens ventured down to Penzance to begin their IPA Championship season, most would have thought that it would be plane sailing for the former three-time European champions and that before you could blink, they would conquer the Championship to regain their spot in the Premiership.
However, most thought wrong as the Cornish Pirates of Penzance defeated Saracens 25–17 in what turned out to be a historic day at the Mennaye Field. Though Saracens were missing a significant number of international players, they still managed to field a team that possessed 165 test caps, alongside a World Cup winning prop in South Africa’s Vincent Koch.
Saracens led early in the second half with tries from Sean Maitland, Tim Swinson and one for Alex Lewington giving the visitors a 17-15 lead. Yet the fight from the Pirates meant that Saracens never got away and in fact, got caught, overtaken and burned to the final whistle.
Tries from Tom Duncan and Dan Frost, along with the boot of Luke Scully led to Pirates leading 18-17 with a minute to go. Nail-biting stuff until Rhodri Davies went over the Saracens’ white line after a fantastic counter-attack to give the Pirates a historic victory.
Saracens’ Argentine international Juan Pablo Socino speaking via Saracens’ Twitter said: “We’re really disappointed, not just with the result, but mainly our performance.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming down here, we need to get back to it on Monday and be positive!
“It’s just one game, but we let ourselves down with that performance, but we move onto the next game!”
Cornish Pirates, following the conclusion of the game, tweeted out: “A famous, famous day at the Mennaye Field and how fitting on the day after St Piran’s Day. An absolutely immense performance from the boys and a win we will talk about for years to come. Thank you for a great contest @Saracens and good luck for the season. #COYP”.
For the rugby county of Cornwall, this win signifies what it’s all about… one and all. The players’ show of character is a perfect example of what Cornwall is all about, grit and determination, the underdog mentality to bring Goliath to his knees. Let it continue.
Next week Saracens take on the Jersey Reds at home whilst the heroic Pirates travel to London to take on Richmond at the Athletic Ground. With a shortened Championship season, every game counts and for the Cornish Pirates, this win is only the beginning of something that could be very special.