Strettle: Saracens’ setback against Bath shows growing strength of the Premiership
EXCLUSIVE: David Strettle believes the weekend’s Premiership results prove that the top flight is getting tougher every year after Saracens “went off track” and lost their perfect start to the season.
Sarries won their first three games of the campaign but Bath triumphed 21-11 in the west country last Friday, beating the Hendon outfit for the first time since 2010 and replacing them at the top of the table.
Elsewhere, the north Londoners’ next opponents Gloucester overcame Leicester – and Strettle admits the Premiership is becoming increasingly difficult and unpredictable.
“I think we just went off track a little bit,” the winger told Ham&High Sport. “We pride ourselves on our strategy, our kicking game and relieving pressure and putting it on the opposition.
“We’re good at doing that to other teams, but credit to Bath, they did it to us. But we know where we went wrong. It’s now a case of learning from our mistakes and putting it right next week.
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“Do the weekend’s results show the league has got stronger? I think so. We were obviously very good last year. We won the league in the regular season with the most wins so we definitely set the bar high. We know we’ve got to be playing superbly pretty much throughout the year to match that. “If you look at it five or six years ago, you can see how the league’s progressed. Every team’s picking up results, there’s never an easy game in the league.
“If you look at the teams who we’ve struggled against - if you go over our record over the last four or five years - it’s actually Worcester and London Irish.
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“They’re two teams who you’d think we’d have better results against. It just shows how strong our league is, you’ve really got to be at the top of your game all the time.”
Saracens will be bidding to bounce back from their defeat when they host Gloucester on Saturday, but their visitors will arrive at Allianz Park full of confidence after their 33-16 home win over Leicester.
“They’re a very good team,” said Strettle. “They’re pretty strong all over the park - they’ve got some exceptionally talented players in the back line and a great pack as well.
“I wouldn’t like to bet on rugby because every game can go any way. It’s always going to be tough to play Leicester but I think they’re struggling a lot with injuries at the moment. But Gloucester played very well and took advantage of it so we know they’ll be on a high after a good performance and it’s going to be tough this weekend.”
Strettle and his fellow Saracens wide man Chris Ashton are set to line up against Jonny May – who has scored four tries in four games – and Charlie Sharples, who has two in two.
That will mean there are four English wingers on the field but Strettle says that is typical these days – and he believes the competition for places is great news for national boss Stuart Lancaster ahead of next year’s home World Cup.
“I think there are four English wingers pretty much every week to be honest,” he said. “There are so many talented players out there now, especially on the wing. It shows the health of English rugby on the wing.
“There are so many top English wingers out there now, and if you give them half a chance they’ll take it.
“I think Stuart will want that. you want competition for places across the team as a whole. It’s one of those things that can only benefit the team.”