Saracens edge Champions cup opener
Edinburgh Rugby fell just short in Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener as Saracens edged a thrilling encounter at StoneX Stadium 30-26.
Edinburgh fought well and were more than equal to Saracens for most of the match, but crucial mistakes ultimately saw try-scorers Luan de Bruin and Wes Goosen end up on the losing side.
First-half tries from Elliot Daly and Ben Earl along with second-half crosses from Alex Lewington and Tom Woolstencroft were enough to give Saracens a winning start, although they also needed the boot of Owen Farrell who recovered from some early misses to score two crucial penalties.
It was Edinburgh who drew first blood in the sixth minute when prop De Bruin forced his way over the Saracens line after a quick break from a lineout, Emiliano Boffelli kicking the extras in what would be the first of several impressive kicks from the Argentine full-back.
But five minutes later, Saracens were back level. Edinburgh had been on the front foot when Boffelli brilliantly took a long cross-field kick, but Saracens managed to turn the ball over and kick for touch after a penalty from a collapsed scrum, something that became a feature of the game for Edinburgh.
A cross field-kick of Saracens’ own, courtesy of Farrell, was collected by full-back Daly to dive over.
Saracens were on top, but they demonstrated a lack of discipline and when a high tackle from lock Maro Itoje was punished, Boffelli stepped up with a long-range penalty to put his side ahead. Another Saracens mistake then allowed him to put six points between the teams.
Yet seconds later, Saracens were back in the game, kicking dangerously from a penalty to put pressure on the Edinburgh defence. The resulting lineout was simple and clinical, the ball eventually planted down in the hands of flanker Earl.
But Farrell missed the chance to put Saracens in the lead with the extras, and there was time left for another Boffelli penalty to ensure Edinburgh led 16-12 at the break.
After the break, however, Saracens turned up the notches. Wing Lewington crossed in the 45th minute when Daly cleverly kicked through to the on-running wing, and Farrell found his kicking boots to score two quick-fire penalties to give the hosts a 23-19 lead with an hour played, despite another Boffelli penalty.
A mistake at a lineout metres from Edinburgh’s own line then allowed prop Mawi to dot down for Saracens, with replacement hooker Woolstencroft going over for the home side’s bonus-point try shortly after.
In the same phase, Edinburgh hooker McInally received a yellow card, but despite being a man down, the visitors managed to get over again, wing Goosen to set up a thrilling finale.
But after Edinburgh prop WP Nel was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Saracens lock Callum Hunter-Hill, Saracens closed out the game against 13 men to secure their win.
Edinburgh host Castres Olympique in Round 2 next Saturday (17 December, kick-off 1pm) with tickets available at edinburghrugby.org.