Longlevens RFC 8
Cheltenham Saracens RFC 12
Saracens opened their league campaign with the relatively short journey to Longford Lane hoping to rectify last week’s mistakes in the cup.
The match started as a real battle with both sides exchanging possession and territory. The first twenty minutes saw Saracens gain the slight upper hand, with the forwards working hard at the scrum and their backs looking threatening before a nasty looking rib injury saw fly-half James Butler leave the field. Lively inside centre Alex Jackson come into play, with club stalwart Jack Lawrenson moving positions to cover for Butler.
Longlevens edged their way into the game and after a series of good scum contests, were gifted a penalty. The kicker however, fluffed his lines and put the relatively easy kick wide of the mark. The resulting drop-out saw Longlevens backs run move after move and the resulting scrappy play saw a short blindside chip-kick be scooped up and tapped down over the line. Again the kicker was unable to add an extra two points and Sarries trailed by only five points.
Sarries tried to respond well but Longlevens were reacting well. The hosts were able to extend their lead when Liam Cooper was penalised at a ruck in front of the posts. The simple kick was dispatched and put Longlevens ahead by eight.
A late flurry of action in the dying moments was not enough for Saracens and they remained down by eight at the break.
Half Time: Longlevens 8-0 Saracens.
The second half started as the first had, with both teams working hard to put pressure on the other. Twenty minutes into the second half the visitors chalked the first of their points up. Scrum-half Jack Medcroft put a short kick in, turning the defence and allowing fullback Dom Richardson to pounce on the ball with fly-half Lawrenson pouncing on it just to make sure, after it had squirmed off of the legs of a defender. Medcroft’s kick was short, but Saracens had closed the gap, 8-5.
Longlevens were determined not to let the visitors back in and their backs set to work trying to unpick the blue and yellow defence but to no avail. With the scrum and lineouts starting to click for the Sarries, they kept hammering on the Longlevens’ door but were denied a chance to add more points by small mistakes.
It was another mistake, this time from the home side, that turned the scoreline on it’s head. A Longlevens penalty lineout was knocked-on, allowing Lawrenson to offload to Jackson, who spread the play with a long pass to winger Will Hewer who sprant and danced his way through the defence before offloading back to Jackson who scampered away from his man and crossed the line, before making sure he tapped down under the posts. Medcroft kept his cool, slotting the kick and adding two more points as Sarries went into the last ten minutes with the lead.
Longlevens threw everything at the visitors in the final ten minutes, running move after move but a pass directly into the referee drew a scrum, which saw Sarries pressure the Longlevens pack, and the great work of Shaun Meheran at the ruck turned the ball over. Lawrenson was tackled mid-kick, causing it to loop high but not far enough for touch. His blushes were saved however as winger, Hewer, was able to react fastest, take control of the ball and run straight off the field, bringing the game to an end.