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