Cheltenham Saracens RFC 52
Frampton Cotterell RFC 12
Following last week’s abandonment, Saracens returned to the field determined to make up the gap in the race for second, and they did exactly that.
Sarries opened their account early on as some strong running from lock Greg Prance and centre Jack Lawrenson saw an opportunity for new signing, Alex Jackson, to dive over in emphatic fashion. The conversion however, was not accurate, sailing just wide.
And it wasn’t long before the Sarries found themselves on the scoreboard again as some good passing and running through the backs allowed Shaun Meheran to receive an offload and the openside flanker stormed through as the Frampton defence parted like the Red Sea. This time Harris slotted the kick to put Saracens in the lead 12-0.
In a flurry of action in the Frampton half, the visitors secured themselves a lineout. However, the lineout was spilt and the bouncing ball was pounced upon by flanker Jonah Manu who skipped past the defence and crossed the whitewash. Harris’ kick struck the post and bounced wide, but the Saracens remained largely in control, 17 points ahead.
Club Stalwart Dom Richardson snatched the bonus point as forceful running from Gareth Rogers and David Fitzharris saw Saracens dominate through the phases, creating an overlap and the speedy winger glided over the line almost unopposed. Harris kept his cool and put an extra two on from the tee.
Frampton, desperate to get back into the game used their forwards to try and dictate the play but after some pressure on the Sarries defence, were unable to find a way through. The resulting five metre scrum saw the visitors anchor down and drive forward, eventually getting a try in the corner. The conversion was missed due to the difficult angle.
The first half remained a midfield battle with both teams applying pressure to the other but the score remained Saracens 24-5 Frampton
Whatever was said by manager Ross Nelmes worked well as the Sarries started at a frantic, dominating pace and debutant Jackson found himself on the score sheet once again, this time with Harris able to convert.
Buoyed by this early boost, the home side continued on with fast approach and pressure. This eventually paid off as soon after fly-half Brad Harris sold the dummy and broke free of the visiting defence to touch down. The kick in front of the posts was converted and Saracens were off the races, 38-5.
The visitors managed to claw their way back in, again through a scrum on the Saracens five metre line. Despite the scrum wheeling almost a full 180 degrees, the referee gave the decision for the penalty try. The conversion was kicked and Frampton were up to 12 points.
After the deep restart, Saracens found themselves right back on the Frampton 5m line. An attempted box kick was charged down by Tom Patience and Manu again was able to scoop up the ball and jog over. Harris converted to make it 45-12.
It took a bit of skill and strong running for the final try, started by substitute Kristian Williams. Williams made an immediate impact as Frampton were unable to deal with the colossal lock. This allowed for some creative champagne rugby from both the Sarries forwards and back as they ran their way from inside their own 20m area to the Frampton 5m line with flanker Manu chalking up his hat-trick in the final play of the match.
Harris made it a 7 point score from the tee and saw Saracens walk away with a dominant 52-12 victory.