Alex Goode scored 19 points as Saracens claimed a narrow 26-16 win against London Irish in New Jersey
Alex Lewington’s try combined with five points from Greig Tonks gave the Exiles a 13-7 lead at the break
But four Goode penalties and a late Nick Tompkins try won it for the reigning champions
Saracens returned to the top of the Aviva Premiership with a narrow victory against London Irish in the first ever match to be played overseas.
With the sun blazing on a fresh New Jersey day, all the conditions were perfect for an open game of rugby to unfold.
Under the star-spangled flag of the United States for the first time, London Irish’s Greig Tonks was the first to put the laces through the ball to open the scoring from the tee after eight minutes.
Saracens replied through fullback Andy Goode, who drifted through a number of tackles to score the first try on American soil. Ben Spencer then added the extras, 3-7.
London Irish though responded with a contender for try of the season. There were multiple offloads before Alex Lewington got his hands on the ball and wriggled through attempted tackles on his way to the line. Tonks added the simple extras from in front of the post, 10-7.
Tonks next slotted a penalty, which is how thing stayed heading into half-time with the Premiership’s bottom side leading 13-7 in New Jersey.
Goode narrowed the gap after the restart with a penalty before levelling the scores with a second strike after 48 minutes,13-13.
Tonks and Goode then traded kicks before the Sarries man edged the reigning Premiership chances back ahead 19-16 with ten minutes remaining.
Nick Tompkins then, with a try out of nothing, charged down Scott Steele’s kick to secure the win for Sarries. Goode then added the extras to secure the win and complete the scoring, 16-26
London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Tom Smallbone, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Halani Aulika, 4 Matt Symons, 5 Elliott Stooke, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Rob McCusker
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Court, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 4 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jared Saunders, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 David Porecki, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Ben Ransom
Date: Saturday, March 12
Venue: Red Bull Arena, New Jersey
Kick-off: 15:00 local, (22:00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Ross Campbell
TMO: David Grashoff