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Storming Back to The Gardens

After such a long time without the men’s side doing their thing at the Gardens it was great to be back!

The place had quite a different feel after the unusual mid-season break. The team had quite an unusual feel too with a raft of academy players and rolling subs  to mix things up. And the opposition was the most unusual feel  as we welcomed  South African club Stormers to the Gardens for the first time.

It was billed as a friendly/exhibition match and it certainly lived up to that.

We were treated to a taste of the future with the speed and skills of Will Glister on the wing bagging a brace of tries. The 18 year old scored his first with just four minutes on the clock with a 40 metre charge to the try line. Charlie Savala was on target with the extras.

We also saw a fully fit and confident Burger Odendaal at his barnstorming best against his fellow Boks – he helped create Glister’s second try and then was on the receiving end of  pass from Braley to notch up a score before half time. Charlie Savala was successful with one conversion but hit the post with his third attempt. Special mention too to Juarno Augustus who made several scorching inroads into his former team mates and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.

The first half also witnessed a comedy gold moment when Big Trev (Trevor Davidson) realised to his horror that he needed to scamper back to cover as Stormers were following up on a kick ahead. His clean pick up of the ball literally off the toes of a Stormer boot and charge back down towards Saints’ line brought one of the biggest cheers of the game!

Meanwhile Stormers had been busy notching up four tries and three conversions with some lovely flowing rugby to lead by seven at the break 19-26.

And , dear reader, at this point your correspondent had to go and buy a hat! Partly to keep my ears warm but also because the strong (cold) wind kept blowing my hair in my eyes. I don’t think it is a problem I have ever had at the Gardens before, I think someone had forgotten to close a door somewhere.

So with warm ears and hair out of my face we settled down for the second half with a welcome back from injury for Tom Seabrook – the first of the trio of injured wings to be back in action. Both sides were making good use of the rolling subs and Angus Scott-Young was on and off the field seemingly as much as the medics.

It all got a bit entrenched until Sam Graham and Tom Litchfield did some Saintly stuff, giving space for Seabrook to put Jake Garside away in the corner. Savala couldn’t find the extras to level the score but it was way out with a strong and swirly wind.

An intercept and clever offload gave Stormers their fifth try then the second half’s comedy moment came when a chip ahead saw the chasing Stormers’ Dayimani gallop over the line and promptly peel off his Stormers’ jersey to reveal a Saints’ top!

Saints refused to lie down however and a sneaky line out move from Robbie Smith put Sam Graham over the line.

But Stormers had the last word with a try in the final play and a win tucked under their belts.

Despite the score I think Saints can take heart from the display – rolling subs didn’t disrupt their fluency and they all looked keen as mustard. It was a great chance to blow away the cobwebs and get back to The Gardens.

Upward and onward to Friday night and another “exhibition” game against Sale.

If you want to follow Saints away in the good company of like minded fans book your place on our coaches to the remaining away games here

For more things Saintly check out Saints Sinners group on Facebook and Ladies Wot Pod on YouTube and Spotify

Photographs as ever by Claire Jones at Red Hat Photography


Glister glides in for a try - another top drawer product of the Academy.


Up, down, on, off and on and off again - Angus Scott-Young had a busy afternoon


Saintly Saffas on the charge! Burger and Juarno against their Countrymen


Jake Garside enjoying the space at full back and scoring his try


Under the watchful eye of the (many) replacements Tom Seabrook returns to the fray

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