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Cheltenham Saracens need to be ‘taken seriously’ after double Combination Cup win

Cheltenham Saracens’ double win in the Cheltenham Combination Cup has proved that they are a team to be ‘taken seriously’. Saracens have risen through the leagues in recent years have won five trophies in the last four seasons including the Junior and Senior Combination Cup titles this season.

Cheltenham-Saracens-celebrate-their-double-cup-winIt leaves the club as the most successful in Cheltenham this season in terms of silverware.

Jimmy O’Shea, of Cheltenham Saracens, said: “It shows that we have put a stamp in the town that we are a team to be taken seriously now. “It was one of the best and biggest days that we have had at the club for some time. It shows that as a club we are moving in the right direction and the hard work is paying dividends.”

Cheltenham-Saracens-celebrateThe Senior Cup was claimed as Saracens beat Old Pats Seconds 39-29. In the Junior Cup, Saracens fought back from 13-0 to beat Bredon Star 14-13 in a grandstand finish at Cheltenham North.

O’Shea added: “With Bredon so far ahead with about ten minutes to go, I wondered if it was just one of those days. To win like that with two late tries was amazing and there was a real buzz among the Seconds because they have had a fantastic season.”

Saracens are aiming to have a third team to enter into the Combination Cup next season and could compete in all three tiers of the competition.

Bust“It is a fantastic time for the club at the moment,” said O’Shea. “We have come a long way over the last few seasons and had a few promotions. The Combination Cup is a competition that means a lot to us and we put a good deal of emphasis on it. To be so successful in the Combination Cup this season is great for the whole club.”

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U14s successful in County Cup qualifier

2016/2017 Gloucestershire County Cup
Pool 5
Round 2

Stroud u14- 0
Cheltenham Saracens u14- 57

Remember Remember the 6th of November!
This was the day that the Sarries Pups put on a display!

We travelled to Dudbridge Hill to face an unknown entity in Stroud so the plan was simple, stop them scoring and we’d only need 1 score to win the tie. The boys certainly did that!

The early stages were evenly contested up until Kian picked the ball up and went on one of his great runs beating the Stroud boys with quick feet and pace, eventually halted in their 22 where he popped the ball to our own rocket Joe who went over for the opening score on 2 minutes, Keane added the extras. 0-7.
5 minutes later and Joe was over again in the corner, this time unconverted. 0-12.
Some resolute defence and tackling in midfield by the back row trio of Adam, Alex and Noah made sure the Stroud half backs weren’t able to get too far with their sniping from breakdowns, combined with big hits from Charlie and a last ditch tackle by Harry kept out the boys in blue and white. With our defensive shape looking a little lost we needed to get hold of the ball and that’s exactly what Kian did on 17 minutes, he lit up the game and got the crowd gasping with another fantastic run from inside his own half, taking on and beating defender after defender, turning them inside out. He was eventually caught about 10 metres from the posts, once more the Sarries support was on hand to retain possession and with Fred supplying Keane onto Joel to allow Joe to go over in the corner for an unconverted try. 0-17.

Our forwards were doing a great job against a bigger pack with Ryan and Leo fronting up with Sam and Charlie assisting from the engine room, this helped Thomas to take a couple against the head, which was a brilliant effort especially as his opposite number was already hooking before the ball was anywhere near the tunnel.

A period of loose play and handling errors by both sides interrupted a day of running rugby, when our own George North stopped a Stroud player in his tracks and virtually picked him up and ran him back towards his own line, Charlie and the back row turned the ball over, presented it to Fred who let it go into the hands of the backs, straight down the line to Taylor who was over next to the flag in the left hand corner but was to be denied by an earlier infringement that nobody knew about due to the referee’s whistle being a damp squib.

Fast forward a couple of minutes and with a slight bit of indecision from a set piece near the 5 metre line nearly stopped a score but the ball again found its way to Joe who ran round under the sticks for a converted try to end the half.
HT- 0-24

The second half saw the return of Mr.T who had been out for a few weeks with a hand injury, he replaced Leo and slotted into the front row as if he hadn’t been away, also the smiling Jaden came on for Taylor who picked up a slight knock.
10 minutes into play and our very own human wrecking ball (Charlie Maker) went on a trade mark marauding run, leaving Stroud defenders trailing in his wake, after about 40 metres past the gain line he was eventually stopped and let the backs have a run, with more great handling and territory gained the ball was picked by Thomas and with a defender or 2 to beat he touched down right next to the left hand upright to make it an easy kick for Keane. 0-31.

Just 3 minutes later and a jinking run by full back Harry, piercing the defence to allow Joel to cross in the corner for an unconverted try. 0-36.

Now the gaps were appearing and getting bigger for the dominant Sarries attack so this was the perfect time to introduce Harvey back from his 2 month absence with a rib injury, he took over from the very impressive Fred at scrum half who took his place at full back with Harry going into the centre.

The final 5 minutes saw 3 more Sarries tries from Joe, Joel and Fred. All were successfully converted to give the boys from KGV a 0-57 win!

I would like to say that even though the Sarries notched up a large score, Stroud never gave up and should be commended for their attitude up to the final whistle!

That said, our boys were very good today with another shut out that pleased the coaches above all.

Every single Cheltenham Saracen u14 deserves a pat on the back for their performance which made the decision for MOM too difficult to give to just 1 player so the accolade this week goes to Fred and Charlie who have set themselves high standards and really raised their game this season.

A big mention goes to Jason Robinson sorry, Kian and obviously Joe with his 5 tries!

2s narrowly miss out to Lydney

Sarries 2’s – 20,lydney 2’s – 24

On a cold crisp day Sarries lined up against Lydney rfc whose 1st xv ply their trade in the national leagues. Despite the need for uncontested scrums a highly entertaining game followed.

14918822_10154812152258304_102856266536431385_o The first 20 mins were somewhat of a stalemate as both sides battered at the respective defences relentlessly until eventually sarries slotted 3 points through the boot of fly half Hywel James.


The first try came through superb work from backs and forwards alike allowing Chris Wilkinson to scoot over in the corner…2 points added from fly half James.

Lydney applied pressure throughout as their influential midfield bore the fruit of their labour with a converted score….10-7 at halftime.

14976884_10154812152658304_7309749884816273661_oWith the wind at their backs at the turnaround the Lydney 10 utilised his howitzer of a boot to pin Sarries back and set up a line-out. A well worked move saw the Lydney centre slice clean through to score under the posts and make it 14-10 Lydney. Sarries hit straight back and worked up the field to set up Chris Davies for a barnstorming run which saw him smash over for a try…conversion missed, 15-14 Sarries.

Again the boot of Lydney’s 10 was key,forcing Sarries back and, allied with a few mistakes from the home side, allowed a penalty kick to be scored despite some outstanding goaline defence….17-15 Lydney.

14991409_10154812153088304_9182729011187046340_oSarries hit back almost immediately with a scrum taken at a penalty in the 22 setting up a ruck,giving the returning Junior Mcdaid a strong run towards the line to score…conversion missed…5 mins to play..Sarries up 20-17.

To both Sarries and Lydneys credit they never gave up and played hard till the end. A key lineout take by the impressive Lydney no.8 in the last 2 mins set up a maul from which the hooker drove over and scored…duly converted..24-20 Lydney.

A last effort by Sarries was thwarted by a simple knock on allowing Lydney to clear and win the game.

A good team performance with lots of positives well led by skipper Craig Roberts. A good performance from everyone with notable performances from Sean Bisset, Ryan White and our new Aussie Ethan nn the forwards, and Matt Mudway, Damien Freili and Jack Kerr the pick of the 3/4’s…….however writers MOM is Hywel James who controlled the game in both attack and defence and was a constant threat to Lydneys well marshalled defence.

Special mention must go to Jay Marriott who put on the shirt of Lydney to ensure a 15 vs 15 game was played and to his credit played superbly.

St Mary’s overhaul Sarries

St. Mary’s Old Boys 30
Cheltenham Saracens 26

Saracens travelled to Trench Lane knowing November could be vital for the rest of the season, but were unable to come away with the desired result.

It took Saracens almost 20 seconds to open the scoring. A dropped pass by the St. Mary’s fly-half allowed Chris Plumb, returning from injury, to scoop up the bouncing ball and stride away, leaving defenders in his wake. The try was unconverted but Saracens lead 5-0 with less than a minute on the clock.

It didn’t take long for the hosts to close the gap, as a penalty against Sarries for offside in front of the posts saw Mary’s score three points of their own.

Sarries responded well to this penalty conversion and the backs set about probing the St. Mary’s defence. Confident fullback Will Hewer found pockets and after linking well with outside centre Luke Morgan, Sarries found themselves deep in the home side’s half. The Sarries banged on the door over and over again with Adam Geering eventually barging his way over. The try was converted with ease, aided by the wind, and Sarries stretched their lead to 3-12.

Less than ten minutes later, Sarries bagged another try. Chris Toye opened his scoring account for his new club after another dazzling run from Hewer. The fullback ate up metres on his run and a rather wild offload reached the tighthead prop who bustled over almost unopposed. Another conversion aided the Sarries cause, extending their lead to 3-19.

The home side closed the gap after a penalty struck the post and bounced back into play. Plumb kicked long and found touch to temporarily clear the danger, but Mary’s worked back up the field and chalked up another try in the corner, the angle proving too much for a conversion.

Mary’s had a try ruled out for a foot in touch, which saw the visitors breathing a sigh of relief. The strong Sarries defence held firm against the home side’s pressure with the score at half time resting at 8-19.

In a reverse of the first half, St. Mary’s started the second half stronger, grasping two tries in very quick succession but only one was converted. With ten minutes into the second half the score had changed to 20-19 in favour of the hosts.

They extended their lead ten minutes later after a quickly taken Sarries lineout on their own 5m line was spilled, allowing the onrushing Mary’s player to snatch the ball and gallop across the whitewash. The conversion made it 27-19.

Five minutes later they added to their mounting lead with a penalty, leaving Sarries two scores behind, 30-19.

A late flurry by Saracens saw the forwards pressure the home defence. With fans believing they had actually scored three times before it was given, they managed to add points to the board, and the easy conversion saw them close the gap to just four points – 30-26. However they were not given the chance to amount a comeback, with the conversion being the final kick of the game.

Outstanding performance by Pups

The Sarries boys were told at the team talk we were missing arguably some of our best tacklers, but to their credit not only did they meet the challenge, they surpassed expectations with a fine display coming out 24-0 victors.

The Sarries defence from the kick off was organised, disciplined and solid; whereas our attack was clinical, aggressive and flowing, and the pace set meant the opposition were always backtracking. But for a multitude of last ditch tackles from Thornbury the score could easily have been double the four try haul.

From the outset surging runs made by man of the match Kian were a fantastic sight paying back the coaches intuition by giving him the no.15 jersey. In addition to some crunching tackles in the middle of the field, he didn’t waiver when left as the last man.
Not bad for a lad who started playing rugby a matter of months ago!
The first of his two tries was scored by determination and pace that pierced the defence on 9 mins, stepping a couple of players and dropping a shoulder into a defender and diving over the line. Importantly it paved the way for the team to have faith in winning even though we had a skeleton squad of barely 16 with a few playing out of position.

The belief continued with the centres combination of Harry and Cole gaining quality yards every time the ball was span wide. Barring a couple of different decisions in the heat of battle they could have bagged a couple of scores each. Both keen to penetrate the defence they set up countless attacks. None the less, they would not have been in such space if it wasn’t for a near faultless display from Kean who bossed the game at ten with quick and decisive ball. He had a great game and really shone today. The wingers, Jaden and Taylor (The Ninja!), weren’t to be undone and threatened with some cracking runs of their own. A good defence by the Bristolians stopping at least two definite tries in each half.

Now, Lodgey and anyone who would listen to him… would have us believe it’s all about the forwards; and in today’s game he wasn’t far off the mark as strikes against the head by Tank (Thomas) were frequent, and in failing that, an 8 man drive stole the ball from Thornbury on numerous occasions at scrum time.
The backs gained most of their ball this morning from the endeavour and hunting nature of our hungry pack. In addition the lineout was always quick and accurate with quality ball supplied, and when spoiling was called for, the boys didn’t disappoint forcing the opposition 9 to make poor decisions under pressure.

A first half highlight was a 5mtr lineout front peel feeding back to Tank & was a joy to watch – bar a blade of grass on the whitewash, it would have been a training ground dream !

I’m not sure how but the first half ended with the Sarries only 7-0 up. Now the fear was that we would switch off as we had done in previous games.

However, we needn’t have worried as following stern words in the huddle the boys got hungry & gave the opposition even less ball in this second period. Charlie had another great game in attack, and defence, and the stealing from Leo, Adam and Ryan was great to see.

The forwards continued as they left off and it was evident when the decision to run a maul from an early line out we maintained the upper hand as territory was never hard to win with some good body positions and a surprised opposition in retreat.

The same power from our leg drive also saw off any resistance at many of the rucks with Sam Budge, Ryan and Toby bossing the game with some good dog along with clever thinking and quick hands from Adam and skipper Noah jackling like good back row were born to do. In fact every time there was a breakdown, the hunger from the lads came through and the chance of a steal was snapped up. It was from such a turnover around the 4th min and quick ball pickup saw Charlie mash his way through the Bristol defenders and there was only one winner from 10 metres out with a lovely try giving us a 14 -0 lead.

Of course without sniping runs and quick distribution from Fred, many of the attacks would have been thwarted early on, but a good sports brain and the fact he’s developing into one of those annoying scrum halves (cheers Pross..!) denting the oppositions defence with quick ball and good decisions from the boot or hand.

The next try followed just a couple of minutes later after a team effort from start to finish with a turnover ball scruffily won then smoothly distributed to the backs well worked and supported that used interplay between Harry and Jaden with Kian running a cracking line creating an overlap for his second.

With further changes seeing Cole leave the field and the pack rearrange to release Growler into the backs at centre where he showed us some of those quick feet he loves to use, more akin to Strictly (!) he had great change of direction and Guscott-ess in its effectiveness. In fact the last was scored by him but this was a shorter crash-through try, well deserved and capped a nice way to spend a Sunday morning.