Saracens went into their match against bottom of the league Bishopston knowing a bonus point win could take them second on points difference if other results went their way.
The first half started with fast pace, after a penalty for offside was kicked to touch and the Saracens forwards drove a 30 metre maul towards the Bishopston line.
The home side couldn’t make this count however, as a after a number of phases, a knock on from the backs stopped momentum.
Saracens were looking dangerous in the early going, with every move from the backs looking as if it could be a try scoring opportunity. However, the strong running of Wayne Smallman, Jack Lawrenson and Sam Rimmer just couldn’t find a hole in the defence.
Saracens first try came from winger, Wayne Smallman, who received the ball on halfway and after leaving a Bishopston flanker on the floor bundled his way over in the right corner. The angle proved too difficult for fly-half Marcus Latchford who couldn’t add the extra two points.
Not long after, Bishopston gained their first try, after the referee decided that Saracens had given away too many penalties following scrums on the line and awarded a penalty try, which was converted.
The first half then saw both teams in a stalemate situation, with knock-ons and mistakes meaning neither team could gain any momentum. Eventually, Bishopston knocked-on deep in their own half and the second Saracens try was set up by the forwards. Blindside flanker Tom Patience made a good run around the back of the scrum and set up a good platform for the backs. After hands through the backs, Matt Williams touched down in the left corner for the last action of the first half, which was again too much of an angle for Latchford.
Half time: Saracens 10 Bishopston 7
Right from the restart Saracens had another score on the board in what would be a stronger second half than the first.
From a lineout Bishopston kicked long. Fullback Sam Rimmer made the catch and ran through a maze of players in a 50 metre run. After being tackled, Saracens set phases and eventually touched down again in the right corner, this time with Latchford nailing the kick and extending the home side’s lead to 10.
And then just minutes after that, the fourth and bonus point winning try came from Matt Williams, following a comedy of errors from Bishopston following a dropped pass. The away team seemed to be caught ball watching, giving Damien Freili enough time to scoop it off and feed the left winger for a 40 yard try. Latchford kept his nerve to add an extra two, making it 24-7.
After a series of scrums, a good backs move by Sarries set Sam Rimmer off on another winding run and the usually dependable fullback knocked on just in front of the line.
Following some kicker ping-pong, Saracens kick was taken into touch by Bishopston, deep in the their own half. Flanker, Tom Patience, made it five for the home side, crashing over on the right wing following a catch-and-drive from the lineout. This try wasn’t converted.
Bishopston’s second and last try came from the referee again, after a penalty was given 10 metres from the Saracens line. Bishopston used the tap and go to their advantage and the home defence didn’t react quick enough. Again, this try was converted.
Things turned a little sour as a yellow card for either side reduced numbers. Following the scrum, second-row-turned-tighthead-prop Henry Lord turned over the ball with ease and set the backs off down the field for try number six. This also wasn’t converted, but was the final play of the match.
Final score Cheltenham Saracens 34-14 Bishopston