The Saracens travelled the short trip down the A40 with an injury plagued squad, many of the regular first XV missing. The squad selected however showed the luxury of depth now present in the Saracens Rugby club, and were more than up to the task of taking on the unknown of a relegated team.
A good warm up saw the Saracens start with a drive and hunger that had been missing in previous weeks. Matching Widden for ambition, physicality and desire for a performance, the visitors looked confident from the off. Excellent defence from both sides caused numerous attacking mistakes , leading to a disjointed game, and lack of front football for both teams, however the Saracens seemed to have the upper hand. Strong carries from Jimmy McMahon, Gareth Rogers and débutant Tom Patience kept the Sarries going forwards, with Sam Rimmer, Damien Frelli and Wayne Smallman making ground out wide, but on several occasions some poor decision making prevented points. Freili crossed the line, but a controversial call of ‘held up’ was made which could well have effected the outcome of the game.
The initiative finally went to the Saracens when Scott Rowe controlled the ball over from the back of a maul. Despite threatening runs from the Widden back three, the half time score remained 5-0.
The even nature of the game continued, with only a Latchford penalty ticking the scoreboard over. Words in the Widden huddle at half-time however saw a a more clinical side restart the game and two quick tries were leaked in the corner, giving the home side a 10-8 lead that they looked like they were going to hold on to. A fiery final 10 mins saw several high tackles and scuffles that both teams were lucky to remain card-less. Sarries pressure pinned Widden back to a Lineout on their 5m line which Rowe managed to steal from the subsequent breakdown for skipper McMahon to gather and dive over to win the game.
Final score Widden Old Boys 10- Cheltenham Saracens 13
MOM hard to call this week, with great performances from props Mark Waring and Chris Windley, new signing Patience, and centre Freili, but in my opinion, despite injury, it goes to yet another back row Chris Read, for ferocious tackling and dominant carries throughout the game.