Saracens out to show United front and State case against Falcons after late Bath blow
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Saracens will look to bounce back from a last-gasp defeat at Bath when they take on Newcastle Falcons on Saturday at the unusual time of 9.30pm.
But there is good reason for the late kick-off, as the two Aviva Premiership rivals are going head-to-head on the other side of the Atlantic, in Philadelphia.
And Saracens’ Chris Wyles, an American international, is more excited than anyone about the weekend’s encounter, as the versatile winger was raised in nearby Allentown.
“I actually grew up about one and a half hours away and we still have family and friends who live nearby,” Wyles told the club’s official website.
“One of the most memorable times visiting was with the USA Eagles national team. We played against Harlequins in a World Cup warm-up game in the same stadium as the one we’re going to play in against Newcastle. That was back in 2015.
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“I actually didn’t play and I will never forget it because the non-playing squad had to get up the next day and run up and down the steps from the Rocky film!”
Sarries were dealt a knockout blow by Bath’s Semesa Rokoduguni at the Recreation Ground, as his two late tries condemned them to a 31-21 loss.
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The hosts led 14-0 in the first half, but Sarries hit back through Ben Spencer and a penalty try, with Owen Farrell kicking two penalties and a conversion and Alex Lozowski landing another penalty to edge them ahead.
Rokoduguni’s late double left director of rugby Mark McCall frustrated and he said: “We were extremely poor in the first half. There were a lot of bad decision on the ball, mistakes on the halfway line. We were unable to build any pressure or control the field position.
“But we were transformed in the second half and played well. We looked as if we’d done enough to win, but it wasn’t to be.”
Sarries have good memories of the USA, though, after beating London Irish in the New York Red Bulls Arena two years ago.
Wyles started that match and is hoping the two-time European champions can put on another show for their American fans, adding: “It’s another example of freshening things up in the season and giving it variety.
“To be able to expose top-level rugby to America is fantastic and is only going to help broaden the game and bring it to new audiences.”