Cheltenham Saracens 2nd XV 36
Old Richians 2nd XV 28
In decent conditions, Sarries second string took to the field against fellow yellow and blue outfit Old Richians.
The game started with a frantic pace, with Sarries’ defence stopping the visitors with ferocious tackling. From spilt lineout, Richians set phases. The strong defence stole the ball at a ruck and kicked long. The Richians fullback’s returning run was stopped early and Sarries won a penalty at the resulting ruck. Scrum-half Joe Prosser tapped and weaved his way through the defence, offloading to Ryan White who crashed over. The kick was not converted and Sarries lead 5-0.
Minutes later Old Richians equalised after some lazy Sarries defending. Captain, Wayne Smallman, almost saved the try but was unable to drag his opposite number far enough away from the try line. Richians’ kicker kept his cool and dispatched the kick for an extra two and the visitors went ahead 5-7.
Richians restarted well, receiving Sarries kick, and their forwards went to work, hammering the Sarries’ defence. The physical approach worked well and the constant, patient phases helped Richians to another five points. A pick-and-go going over just left of the posts. The kicker slotted the kick and Richians extended their lead by nine, 5-14.
Words were said under the posts and Sarries came out looking to close the gap. With the lineout not functioning properly, Sarries had to make the best of the possession they had and Smallman’s pace had a big effect as he outpaced his opposite man but had gone alone. A Richians hand on the floor at the ruck spared Saracens blushes, and a tap penalty followed by good hands saw Smallman glide over after leaving two defenders in his wake and tapping down under the sticks. Latchford converted easily and Sarries trailed by only two.
Not long after Richians extended their lead, as Sarries, expecting a penalty, switched off allowing the visitors to chalk up another score. The Richians kicker kept his cool and made it 12-21.
The teams exchanged possession in the late stages of the first half, as it ground down into a midfield battle.
Half Time: 12-21
Coach Mike Pitman made changes at half time, and it made a big impact. Hooker Aaron Connolly struck against the head before a Sarries offload gifted possession away. The Sarries forwards stole it back at the ruck and Prosser again fed the backs and Smallman added to his total, leaving the defence behind him for a converted try. 19-21.
Nobody from Sarries claimed the Richians kick but then visitors knocked-on when setting the ruck. The solid Sarries scrum gave the backs a platform for the backs and a well worked move saw captain Smallman claim his hat-trick, going over again in the corner and managing to get under the posts again to give Latchford an easy kick. The Sarries fly-half converted and Sarries converted to make it 26-21.
Sarries made waves following the restart and some lazy running from Old Richians allowed Latchford to add three more points to Sarries total.
Richians were allowed to close the gap as lazy defending and small mistakes allowed the visitors’ winger to go for a run, leaving Latchford on the floor with a sharp turn before gliding in under the posts. The conversion was simple and the score sat at 29-28.
Ed Hampshire had the last laugh, after the two sides exchanged kicks and turn overs. The centre ran a great line and received an offload, with his momentum breaking a tackle as he made his way under the posts, rounding the fullback. Latchford made it a seven point score, 36-28.
The dying moments of the second half saw Sarries pressuring again with a big hit from Frieli stopping any chance of a Richians score. The Sarries went on one last attack but Richians turned it over and kicked to touch, ending what had been a fantastic match.