OWEN FARRELL set an unwanted record and was caught swapping jibes with the referee – but still emerged as a hero.
The England skipper missed six deadball kicks for the first time in the Premiership but inspired Saracens’ 39-31 comeback win over Bristol Bears.
However, his exchange with ref Luke Pearce was a bigger talking point.
Farrell was unhappy at Bristol conceding a third penalty from a maul.
And social media was divided over the confrontation that followed.
Farrell appeared to point out: “That’s three at the maul” with Pearce seeming to reply: “Thanks, I can count.”
The fly-half was then heard retorting: “Don’t be rude to me, there’s no need to be rude to me.”
Some fans reckon that complaint was “ironic” as the Red Rose hero is known for his regular remonstrating with refs.
One viewer posted: “Ref’s not being rude, just reminding him of his place. Well reffed.”
Another wrote: “He was in Pearce’s ear all game, needed putting in his place.”
And a third said: “It was all game…thinks he is above the law. Maybe one referee will have the balls to give a penalty against him for unnecessary backchat…he showed zero respect.”
But others argued that Pearce’s “antagonistic” comment after a “normal statement” from Farrell was unprofessional.
One said: Think he (Farrell) is perfectly within his rights to say that.”
A second added: “Referees need to realise they need to give respect to receive it also. They soon moan when they get abused but continuously act like they are better than the players.”
And another fan pondered: “Do you think it would be said to another captain? Haven’t seen Luke Pearce react like with many other players/captains worldwide.”
Farrell ended up with two conversions and, more importantly, the opening try as his brilliant performance in open play made up for his six missed kicks.
Saracens recovered from trailing 21-15 at the break to record a bonus point with seven tries in a fifth straight victory.