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Sarries seal home win

Cheltenham Saracens 22
Barts Rugby 6

Fourth hosted third as Cheltenham Saracens welcomed Barts Rugby to King George V.

Barts’ start to the match didn’t go as planned as they kicked off directly into touch and were then penalised at the scrum on halfway. From this, Saracens were allowed to control the opening stages, with all of the action being focused in the visitor’s half of the pitch, unable to clear the ball any further than the halfway line.

Eventually the pressure paid off for Saracens, returning a clearing kick, won a penalty at the ruck and kicked for touch. The lineout saw the maul set a good platform, allowing Adam Geering to receive a pass from the back of the pack and spin out of a tackle to crash over halfway between the posts and corner flag. Stand-in kicker, scrum-half Jack Medcroft was unable to convert and Sarries took a five point lead.

Barts responded physically and dug out short gains through their forwards before managed to claw a score back, slotting a penalty in front of the posts. This closed the gap to 5-3.

After tough phases from Barts, Sarries extended their lead after fullback Will Hewer returned a long kick with a winding run, before offloading to centre Luke Morgan, who in turn set up Hewer for another run. After Barts finally stopped Hewer, the quick ball from the ruck was enough to put the backs through with young winger Connor Anderson capping off the move, gliding over almost unopposed. Medcroft was again unable to convert but Sarries lead by 7 points.

The game ebbed and flowed for the rest of the half, with both sides exchanging possession and kicks. Barts were awarded a penalty for offside, but elected to kick to touch, ending the first half.

Half Time: Saracens 10-3 Barts.

Saracens piled on the pressure in the early stages of the second half, and after securing a penalty, Medcroft kicked to touch and put the forwards to work. The resulting maul set the platform again and the attack was ended by Luke Morgan, who stormed over in the corner for another unconverted try. Saracens now held a 15-3 lead.

Barts returned, determined to not let the gap extend and the hard, demanding phases through their forwards won a penalty. This was dispatched, and Barts doubled their score; 15-6.

Barts knocked-on from the restart, giving Sarries a scrum and this allowed the backs to run an organised move. Fullback Hewer, already having set up a try, put his own name down amongst the scorers, as he sold the defence a dummy and shrugged off a tackle to go over, but made sure to tap down right under the posts to make it an easy kick for Medcroft, who didn’t miss. Sarries now stood 22-6 clear of their third placed opponent.

Sarries could have bagged another in the dying moments, as two Barts players headed to the sin bin. However, despite camping themselves on the Barts 5m line, the hosts could not find a way through.
The game ended quietly, with both teams exchanging kicks, before Barts attempted a break away on the overlap but a knock-on ended their attack and the match.

Sarries succumb to Richians

Old Richians 30
Cheltenham Saracens 12

Saracens travelled to Sandyleaze in the pouring rain, knowing a win could take them top of the table.

With the downpour ending before kick off, both teams started competitively as a midfield battle saw Saracens with slightly more possession and territory, but unable to get through the well-drilled Richians defence.

Richians opened the scoring through a penalty. Controversy arose as the three points were given despite only one touch judge having raised the flag.

img_1642Saracens started well from the restart and started trying to string fast phases to try and unpick the Richians defence but we’re just unable to.
Eventually Sarries pressure was rewarded and they won a penalty. However, stand-in kicker Jack Medcroft was unable to convert.

More controversy surrounded Richians opening try, as the move was started by an arguable forward pass. But the winger’s kick over the up-rushing defence saw him collect and tap down in the corner for an unconverted try.
Richians now lead 8-0.

img_1673A penalty minutes before half time saw Richians extend their lead to 11. And despite Sarries trying to regain something before half time, Richians managed to run down the clock and kick out to end the first half.

Half time: Old Richians 11-0 Saracens

The second half saw a much more aggressive Saracens defending well against early pressure from the home side but this pressure didn’t last and Sarries found themselves attacking but were once again unable to get through.

The first try of the second half was chalked up by the hosts. A well worked backs move from a lineout saw them extend their lead but it was unconverted.

img_1813From the restart Sarries pressured the Richians defence, asking questions of the forwards. A lineout saw the maul do it’s duty and march up the field before being stopped just before the line. Patient phases saw a gap open for substitute winger Chris Wilkinson, who managed to glide over in the corner despite being tackled by his opposite man. The angle was too much for Medcroft but the ball was only inches wide.

Sarries attacked right from the restart, running attacking moves from their own half instead of kicking. Centre, Jack Lawrenson, found a gap in the defence and went for a run only to be tackled around the face directly in front of the referee, who waved play on. Minutes later Richians extended their lead as a centre of their own broke through a tackle and score under the posts for a converted try.
The score now saw Richians lead 23-5

img_1910Stand-in fly-half, Jack Kerr got Saracens back on the score sheet. After Sarries worked their way into the Richians 22m area and were banging on the home side’s door, the number 10 weaved his way past tackles until a gap opened up and he went through under the sticks. An easy conversion for Medcroft saw Sarries close the gap, 23-12.

This slight comeback was halted by another Richians converted try after Sarries fluffed their lines at the restart.
A knock-on from the restart was the signal of the last play, and Richians managed to kick the ball into touch after the resulting scrum to end the game.

Difficult County Cup opener for U14s

Cheltenham Saracens U14’s 7
Longlevens RFC U14’s 35

On a sunny Sunday morning, Sarries kicked off their county cup campaign at home to Longlevens.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to score, after a quick runner danced his way through. The conversion was short, keeping it at a five point score.

cc2 The opening stages saw Longlevens take the game to Sarries. Piling the pressure on hard, asking questions of the home defence. The pressure paid as Sarries struggled to make gains deep in their own half and were penalised for holding on at the ruck. Longlevens tapped the penalty and the visitors extended their lead with another unconverted try.

The teams kicked the ball to each other in the following stages as neither side could organise but Longlevens saw themselves adding more points from the tee, as a Sarries man was penalised at a ruck. The kick saw Longlevens extend their lead 0-13.

The rest of the half saw the game break down with both teams camping down in the middle of the park. Longlevens managed to add to their total while Sarries were down to 14 men due to injury. The visitors scored under the posts after strong, persistent phases. The kick was good as the final play of the half.

Half time: Saracens 0-20 Longlevens.

Longlevencc1s strong runners proved just too strong again as they started the second half strongly. It didn’t take long to add to their total, as a well worked backs manoeuvre opened a hole in the defence for the runner to hit through for an unconverted try. 0-25.

Sarries responded well to this early setback and they built phases in the opposition half. Banging on the door, they worked phases patiently, drawing mistakes from the Longlevens defence. Charlie Maker opened Sarries scoring, after a tap penalty and strong runners was too much for the visiting defence. Fly-half, Keane Mazoweic, kept his cool and slotted his kick to give Sarries a possible way back into the game.

Longlevens pressured the Sarries line, winning a penalty. The resulting lineout and maul saw Sarries steal the ball but the kick away saw Longlevens run it back. The resulting play saw Sarries carry it over the deadball area and tap down, giving Longlevens a 5m scrum. The pressure of the patient phases paid off and they scored in the corner, unconverted. 7-30.

cc3With the play breaking down to a battle in midfield again, and last play called by the referee, Longlevens stole a Saracens scrum and sort to add to their score line. The pressure of the organised backs moves saw the visiting attack go over and score. Again it was unconverted, and the match ended 7-35.

Man of the match: Charlie Maker and Kian Fraser.
Special mention to Aiden for solid defensive work.

Smallman leads 2s to victory

Cheltenham Saracens 2nd XV 36
Old Richians 2nd XV 28

In decent conditions, Sarries second string took to the field against fellow yellow and blue outfit Old Richians.

acThe game started with a frantic pace, with Sarries’ defence stopping the visitors with ferocious tackling. From spilt lineout, Richians set phases. The strong defence stole the ball at a ruck and kicked long. The Richians fullback’s returning run was stopped early and Sarries won a penalty at the resulting ruck. Scrum-half Joe Prosser tapped and weaved his way through the defence, offloading to Ryan White who crashed over. The kick was not converted and Sarries lead 5-0.

Minutes later Old Richians equalised after some lazy Sarries defending. Captain, Wayne Smallman, almost saved the try but was unable to drag his opposite number far enough away from the try line. Richians’ kicker kept his cool and dispatched the kick for an extra two and the visitors went ahead 5-7.

Richians restarted well, receiving Sarries kick, and their forwards went to work, hammering the Sarries’ defence. The physical approach worked well and the constant, patient phases helped Richians to another five points. A pick-and-go going over just left of the posts. The kicker slotted the kick and Richians extended their lead by nine, 5-14.

ac3Words were said under the posts and Sarries came out looking to close the gap. With the lineout not functioning properly, Sarries had to make the best of the possession they had and Smallman’s pace had a big effect as he outpaced his opposite man but had gone alone. A Richians hand on the floor at the ruck spared Saracens blushes, and a tap penalty followed by good hands saw Smallman glide over after leaving two defenders in his wake and tapping down under the sticks. Latchford converted easily and Sarries trailed by only two.

Not long after Richians extended their lead, as Sarries, expecting a penalty, switched off allowing the visitors to chalk up another score. The Richians kicker kept his cool and made it 12-21.

The teams exchanged possession in the late stages of the first half, as it ground down into a midfield battle.

Half Time: 12-21

Coach Mike Pitman made changes at half time, and it made a big impact. Hooker Aaron Connolly struck against the head before a Sarries offload gifted possession away. The Sarries forwards stole it back at the ruck and Prosser again fed the backs and Smallman added to his total, leaving the defence behind him for a converted try. 19-21.

ac1Nobody from Sarries claimed the Richians kick but then visitors knocked-on when setting the ruck. The solid Sarries scrum gave the backs a platform for the backs and a well worked move saw captain Smallman claim his hat-trick, going over again in the corner and managing to get under the posts again to give Latchford an easy kick. The Sarries fly-half converted and Sarries converted to make it 26-21.

Sarries made waves following the restart and some lazy running from Old Richians allowed Latchford to add three more points to Sarries total.

Richians were allowed to close the gap as lazy defending and small mistakes allowed the visitors’ winger to go for a run, leaving Latchford on the floor with a sharp turn before gliding in under the posts. The conversion was simple and the score sat at 29-28.

Ed Hampshire had the last laugh, after the two sides exchanged kicks and turn overs. The centre ran a great line and received an offload, with his momentum breaking a tackle as he made his way under the posts, rounding the fullback. Latchford made it a seven point score, 36-28.

The dying moments of the second half saw Sarries pressuring again with a big hit from Frieli stopping any chance of a Richians score. The Sarries went on one last attack but Richians turned it over and kicked to touch, ending what had been a fantastic match.

2s make it a double against North Bristol

Cheltenham Saracens 2nd XV v North Bristol 2nd XV

First dry game of the year and both Saracens sides were keen to make the most of the dry weather and use the pace they have been training at. North Bristol also turned up early and were very well prepared.

From the kick off by Sarries, it was clear who was going to dictate the tempo of the game with an excellent pressure d, Sarries forced a penalty under the posts 3-0 converted by Edward Hampshire. From the return kick off hard lines were ran back at NB and from a very powerful scrum Rich Coleman trundled over not converted. 8-0 to the home side. Not far after the skipper Wayne Smallman found some room out wide and a mismatch got round then scored under the posts and converted. 15-0. The tempo slowed slightly as Sarries came off the gas for 10-15 minutes which allowed NB too come into the Sarries’ 22 and work a try through missed tackles. The home side regrouped and worked back a try from a loose NB scrum which Joe Prosser scooped up before the half time whistle 22-7.

The second half started in a very similar fashion. Full pressure in defence and attack forced errors from NB who could only kick over the Saracens defence. After a to and fro kicking game, a return from Chris True carved the defence like the parting of the red sea, scoring easily under the posts, 29-7. The next try came from the Skipper from a well worked training move. With good hands, Smallman was allowed to pick and go from a quick ruck to score under the posts, 36-7. Exactly like the first half Sarries let up slightly and allowed a very controversial try (possibly held up by Basher Cresswell) however Darryl Francis allowed it and it was converted 36-14. The skipper had the final say. Working with a champagne style of rugby passing allowed him to run clear of the NB defence and score under the posts unopposed. Final score 43-14.