SARACENS HAVE MADE a losing start to life in the Championship after falling to a 25-17 defeat at Cornish Pirates.
Saracens were relegated to the second tier of English rugby after being found guilty of breaching Premiership rules surrounding salary caps last year.
The North London club are expected to make a swift return to the Premiership, but suffered an early setback in their first fixture of the 2021 Championship season.
Saracens, who won four Premiership titles and three European Cups between 2015 and 2019, began Championship life away to Cornish Pirates, who were playing a competitive home fixture for the first time in over a year.
While missing a host of their England internationals, the Saracens team still packed plenty of punch with Sean Maitland, Tim Swinson, Jackson Wray and World Cup winner Vincent Koch all included in the starting 15.
Saracens struck first at Mennaye Field through a Maitland try but the Pirates recovered to take a 8-5 lead by the half-hour mark through a Luke Scully penalty and a Tom Duncan try from a tap-and-go.
Alex Lewington crossed to restore Saracens’ lead just before half-time, but Manu Vunipola’s missed conversion left it a two-point game.
The hosts struck first after the break through Dan Frost before Swinson replied for Saracens.