Tewkesbury 2nd XV 5
Cheltenham Saracens 3rd XV 48
Sarries travelled to Tewkesbury expecting a tough game against a well drilled opponent and worked hard to come away with the win.
The match, which started as a to-and-fro battle of possession saw the Sarries pack dominate at the scrum and chalked up their first try after turning over a Tewkesbury ruck. The hands through the backs allowed scrum-half Darryl Francis to finish off the move, receiving an offload and going over unopposed. Fly-half Mark Vaughn did the honours from the tee and Sarries found themselves 7-0 ahead with only six minutes on the clock.
Following this early try the match settled into a midfield stalemate, with both teams trading attacking and defending duties. Eventually, Sarries extended their lead after a long kick from Matt Williams stayed in play, allowing the winner to kick the bouncing ball further towards the try line and chase. The strong winger was tackled off the ball, giving Saracens a tap penalty, which resulted in a try. Vaughn again slotted the kick for another two points.
Tewkesbury mounted a real dominance, as they camped themselves in the Sarries half an ran phase after phase, patiently banging on the visitor’s door. The Sarries defence stood strong though and refused to let anything through, which saw the half finish Tewkesbury 0-14 Sarries.
The second half started with a ferocious pace, and after dominating the early phases again, the Tewkesbury forwards forced their way over the line and onto the scoreboard. The conversion attempt lacked the length, and Saracens led by nine – 5-14.
Less than ten minutes later, winger Matt Williams crashed over to extend Sarries lead. Sarries won a penalty and stormed up the field. Tewkesbury conceded another penalty and the tapped ball was popped through the hands to Williams who powered through the defence to touch down, with Vaughn adding two extra.
The restart saw both teams battling for possession and the driving Sarries’ scrum gave the backs a good platform, leading to Matt Williams bagging another try. The winger this time making a run around the outside, handing off his opposite winger and clearing the fullback. Vaughn wasn’t able to convert, but Sarries were now facing a 5-26 lead.
Literally seconds later, Sarries were back on the score sheet. A long kick from Sarries wasn’t dealt with by any of the backs, allowing for a pop pass from Paul Grayson to the on-rushing Williams to steam over under the sticks. Vaughn added an extra two points and Sarries moved 5-33 ahead.
Winger Dan Laughlin was the next to add points as Sarries found themselves deep in the Tewkesbury half again. The visiting pack got the shove on at the scrum and gave the backs a good platform. The phases lead to the winger dancing his way through and grounding just left of the posts. Vaughn was not able to convert, but the score stood at 5-38.
Right from the restarting kick, the ball found its way to winger Williams again. The number 11 ran his way into the Tewkesbury half and crashed his way through six Tewkesbury men to score again for an unconverted try.
Despite the conversion being missed, Sarries maintained their momentum. As Tewkesbury aimed to attack to get back in to the game, Williams stripped the running fullback and again charged his way through the defence to extend the lead for the visitors. The kick was not converted but Sarries thwarted a late fightback to come away with a 5-48 win!