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Barmy Army marches on

Cheltenham Saracens III 44 – Old Cryptians II 22

Two weeks ago the same two sides met in a friendly that saw the Old C’s thump the Sarries by seventy points, so it was with some trepidation that the Sarries kicked off on a squally day at KGV.

IMG_3895Early play seemed to suggest that the Crypts were again up for the match and a flowing move saw their centre, who had an impressive afternoon dot down for an unconverted try. A penalty quickly followed as the Old C’s continued to dominate.

It was the wily old fox Matt Mudway who dragged the Sarries back into the game using the strong wind to put in some raking kicks that gave the Sarries territory. From a scrum inside the 22 scrum half Darryl Francis created space for speedy winger Dan Loughlan to scoot home.

Poor discipline from the Sarries gained the wrath of the referee and the Old C’s punished them with another try. The loggerheads with the ref continued to a point when the ref said to the Sarries “can you lot just play rugby” and that’s exactly what they did in the last five minutes of the half.IMG_3920

Matt Williams crossed for the first of his four tries and then straight from the kick off, the ball was collected and passed to Paul Crombie who hit a great line and created quick ruck ball in the centre of the park, from this excellent interchange passing by the backs saw debutant centre Dave Holmyard scorch home.

Half time 15-15

The teams changed ends and now Old C’s had the elements behind them and they looked set for a win. But the Sarries hadn’t read this script and simply blew them off the park with four tries in the first twenty minutes of the half. Williams added an early score, before a sweeping move saw Luke Brown up in support to cross for a try he thoroughly deserved, Williams added his third before Junior McDaid thundered over from thirty yards.

IMG_4007The game was now really over as a contest but to their credit Old C’s added another score to give them some hope a hope that was finally distinguished by Williams fourth try.

Old C’s did have the last word on the final whistle when their young flanker collected a cross kick to score.

A very good game played in testing conditions.

Writers MoM: Well if you score four tries it should be Matt Williams but on his last home game for the club it goes to Sarries legend Wayne Smith.

Cheltenham Saracens push Gloucester Premier champions close

Bristol Saracens 12
Cheltenham Saracens 10

Cheltenham Sarries travelled to their Bristol counterpart hoping to spoil the host’s promotion celebrations and came within touching distance of managing that.

The match started with a good pace as both sides fought for possession and territory, with the Cheltenham side’s forwards gaining good ground. The back and forth action continued as the conditions slowly worsened.

The hosts opened the scoring halfway through the first half, running phase after phase, eventually exploiting the overlap on the left and touched down in the corner. The conversion was missed however as the howling winds caught the ball in mid-flight.

The visitors responded well to this setback with great strong runs from Hywel James and Will Hewer. The Cheltenham side continued to bang on the door as they piled on the pressure, camping inside the Bristol half.
Eventually, the relentless Blue and Yellow attack proved too much for the hosts as a James Butler grubber kick wasn’t dealt with, allowing winger Andy Nicholls to put in a small kick off his own towards racing centre Jack Lawrenson who pounced on the bouncing ball for the try. Butler’s conversion was missed as the wind began to interfere, however this was the last play of the half and both sides went into the break with 5 points.

The Cheltenham side started the second half the way they finished, with a fantastic break away from Gareth Rogers down the left flank. A last ditch tackle however stopped him from going all the way.

Bristol Saracens responded to the challenge themselves and started to assert their control by dictating the pace of the play. The patient play was rewarded with a try but the conversion was a source of much controversy. The ball appeared to sail just inches wide of the post, but despite one touch judge raising the flag and another waving it away, the referee awarded the kick without consulting either judge.

The Cheltenham side were under the cosh as Bristol Saracens piled on the pressure, with only a well organised defence stopping them from adding extra. The visitors did managed to climb their way back in however, as strong work in the centre of the field from David Fitzharris, James McMahon and Gareth Rogers allowed the backs to run, with Brad Harris and Will Hewer challenging the defence.

The work eventually paid off as the visitors camped down in the Bristol half and secured a penalty. McMahon caught the lineout and Meheran drilled the forwards in the maul, barging through the Bristol pack and allowing the openside flanker the opportunity to add another 5 points. The kick was unconverted however, due to the wind which had become a real factor in the game, resulting in many kicks going straight into touch. The score in the last 5 minutes: Bristol Saracens 12-10 Cheltenham Saracens.

The visitors tried to get back into things but the hosts kept things under control, using their forwards to run down the clock before kicking into touch.

Newspaper report here

Bonus point triumph for Cheltenham Saracens over St Mary’s Old Boys

Cheltenham Saracens 29 St Mary’s Old Boys (SW) 21

5mar1d Cheltenham Saracens moved within two points of the Gloucester Premier top four following a bonus-point win over seventh side St Mary’s Old Boys.

The visitors opened the scoring by dispatching a penalty in front of the posts, but Saracens had the chance to level the scoring, but the penalty drifted wide.

St. Mary’s capitalised on this ten minutes later when the forwards set a catch-and-drive lineout going, and phase after phase developed an overlap, allowing the winger a clear run for an unconverted try giving the visitors an 8-0 lead.

After developing their attacking approach, Saracens camped on St. Mary’s five-metre line with a series of scrums.5mar1c

Controversy surrounded the eventual score with St. Mary’s players adamant the ball was not over the line, but the referee awarded it.

The controversial score was unconverted, however, after Brad Harris struck the post.

St. Mary’s responded well – inspired by this perceived injustice – and managed to run phases deep into Saracens’ half. With attacks coming from the left, Old Boys switched right and strong running saw them score in the corner and the conversion scraped over.

5mar1bSaracens responded by working their way into the visitors’ half and eventually won a penalty. When St. Mary’s defence switched off, Saracens tapped quickly and flanker Jonah Manu crashed over unopposed. Harris struck the post again, leaving Saracens trailing 15-10.

The hosts had the half’s last word as the forward’s set the maul from the scrum again, and in similar fashion to the first try, barged over in dominant fashion.

Harris’ kick put Saracens 17-15 ahead at half-time.

After a frantic second-half start, St. Mary’s slotted a penalty putting them 18-17 ahead. This early penalty did not dent Saracens’ confidence, who soon found themselves hammering on the door with constant phases and short gains. Eventually, it was captain James McMahon who broke through tackles to crash over.

Harris converted to put Sarries 24-18 up.

Saracens’ defence started to make an impact with huge hits from full-back Paul Hewitt and Jack Lawrenson shutting the door on the visitors. The keen defence was eventually penalised for being offside and the visitors converted the penalty – making it 24-21. Sarries substitute Chris Wilkinson rounded off the performance with an unconverted try.

The visitors secured a penalty with the final play and kicked to secure a losing bonus point, but it sailed wide.

Full newspaper article here

Townsend stars in Cheltenham Saracens’ home win over Stroud

Cheltenham Saracens II 66 Stroud II 12

5mar2c Jake Michael Townsend bagged over half of Cheltenham Saracens’ points following a 36-point haul. The man-of-the-match grabbed a hat-trick of tries plus booted a penalty and nine conversions.

 

Stroud Seconds returned to league action at Cheltenham Saracens in a game to relish having enjoyed some close and hard-fought battles over the last few seasons.

5mar2bWith Stroud edging the double on Saracens last season and the home side looking to avenge this with a resolute win at Stroud, they were now prowling the KGV stronghold for the home win double.

Sarries – like Stroud – were slightly depleted of regular second team players, but players from both clubs stepped up to the mark and adorned their respective jerseys.

5mar2aSarries recognised early in the game that to get into strong arm tactics with Stroud’s big and experienced pack would only end in failure, so at every opportunity they pushed the ball from touchline to touchline stretching the big Stroud forwards and asking every defensive question of the Stroud back line including the evergreen and historically outstanding Adam Tarplee at 13 – who used every bit of nouse and brawn to lead the tackle line. But the constant pace and precision passing was just too often and accurate for Stroud to deal with.

Connor Anderson – on his return game – bagged a brace with his second involving running in, out and around pretty much the whole of the visitors’ back line. Chris Davies – on the opposite wing to Anderson – powered himself across the whitewash with some fine running throughout and acknowledged the wide and expansive game Sarries were playing with such effect.

The pick of the forwards was captain Craig Roberts, who was explosive and powerful all game with excellent leadership shown.

Liam Cooper at seven was a close call for Man of the Match with two tries to his name and an outstanding display of work rate and energy and is surely one to watch out for.

But this week’s Man of the Match must go to Townsend who was playing directly opposite Stroud legend Tarplee.

Full newspaper write up here

3rds narrowly beaten by Hill

Cheltenham Saracens 3rd xv 14-Coney Hill 17

Following news of Coney Hills 1st team fixture being called off Saracens feared the worst and their fears confirmed when very few familiar faces from their previous encounter were there.Dan

Not to be put off it was Saracens who won the early battles equal to everything hill had to offer. Numerous tackles made by the back row trio of Simon Betteridge, Luke Brown and Matty Williams led to frustration of hill who were unable to make any yards. Through clever kicking by Mark Vaughan and hard powerful running by Liam Cooper, the Saracens found them camped in the hill 22. A clever quick tap by Neal Francis and an offload Willto Cooper allowed the debutant to score between the posts. Converted 7-0 Saracens. This seemingly kicked started hill who through their powerful backs notched a score up of their own. Converted 7-7.

It was the Saracens who were to have the final laugh of the first half. A clever tap penalty by scrum half Francis in the Saracens 22 enabled winger Chris Davies to complete a 60 metre run to put the home team ahead at half time. 14-7.

Half time saw Coney Hill use their 10 man bench to full effect adding more suspect looking 3rd team players to the fold.Neal

It was Coney Hill who made the first impact scoring a quick tap and go penalty on the Saracens 5 metre line and, with the conversion, leveled the scores at 14-14. The second half saw much like the first a true physical affair with both teams making punishing runs and hard tackles.

It was the final play of the game that saw hill go ahead for the first time. Following an infringement by Saracens at the breakdown on the Saracens 22, the ref didn’t see a deliberate stamp to the head by the hill 9 and, as a consequence, unable to overturn the penalty. Hill kicked and final score 17-14 coney hill.

Unbelievable performance by a true 3rd team against tough opposition. Although a true team performance, stand out man of the match goes to debutant Liam Cooper.