Saracens have been beaten by the Cornish Pirates in their first game in the RFU Championship.
The three-time European champions named a strong side for their opening game in the second tier of English rugby, but ultimately Saracens were unable to even secure a losing bonus-point against the Pirates.
Scotland internationals Duncan Taylor, Sean Maitland and Tim Swinson, Argentina international Juan Pablo Socino, Wales international Aled Davies, USA international Kapeli Pifeleti and South Africa international Vincent Koch all started for Saracens.
Tough result, we’ll be back.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) March 6, 2021
Despite their star-studded team, Saracens lost 25-17 to the Cornish side, having led by two points at half-time thanks to tries from Maitland and Alex Lewington.
The Pirates added insult to injury in the 76th minute through a try from replacement scrum-half Rhodri Davies, which put the home side eight points in front, denying Saracens a losing bonus point.
The race for the play-off final
The loss leaves Saracens facing a bit of an uphill battle already, with only 11 games being played in the Championship’s regular season due to the tournament being pushed back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
With only two teams qualifying for the Championship play-off – which will determine which side secures promotion to the Gallagher Premiership – Saracens may not be able to afford to lose another game.
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
— Cornish Pirates (@CornishPirates1) March 6, 2021
The North Londoners have already been beaten twice by Ealing Trailfinders in a pre-season competition, and should they lose to them again in the Championship, they could miss out on the play-offs.
While Saracens were heavy favourites to secure promotion to the Premiership before the season started, the Pirates are now in pole position at the top the table, while Ealing will surely be sniffing blood.