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.
Saracens 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.
A 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.
From 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
Stand-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.