Cheltenham Saracens RFC 67
With the Rugby World Cup in full swing, King George V hosted cup rugby of its own as Saracens took on Tewkesbury in the Gloucestershire Senior Vase.
The game started with a fast pace with both teams running and tackling hard. It took quarter of an hour for either side to break the deadlock, with Saracens fly-half Bradley Harris converting a penalty in front of the posts.
Tewkesbury, however, responded well to this early setback and quickly began running quick, strong phases before penetrating the home defence and tacking up the first try of the match. They also managed to convert, putting them four points ahead, 3-7.
This was cancelled out almost minutes later, as flanker Shaun Meheran broke through the defence and after some flowing hands from the backs and a winding run by fullback Sam Rimmer, James McMahon was put through unopposed to tap down under the sticks. Harris kept his cool and added two from the tee, putting Saracens ahead 10-7.
Not long after this the sides were equal again, a penalty at the breakdown saw Tewkesbury add three points but the hosts didn’t let this stop them. With the forwards dictating the rucks, the Saracens moved forward, running phases from line-outs. The referee gave advantage for an infringement at the breakdown and scrumhalf Kyle Thomas picked up from the bottom of a ruck to crash his way over. Harris however was not able to convert but Saracens lead by five.
Front row replacement Josh Wright had been on the field of play only minutes before he powered over the whitewash following a maul, scoring his first first-team try for the Sarries. Harris converted to add two to the host’s already stretching lead and minutes later he was adding from the tee again as scrumhalf Thomas broke the gap and used his speed to avoid the backs before a last ditch tackle stopped his run. A swift offload however to centre Jack Lawrenson saw the supporting runner crash over to secure the bonus point. The score now Sarries 29 – 10 Tewkesbury.
This wasn’t the last time Sarries would get on the scoresheet in this half as former Tewkesbury player Tom Wilkinson hit the gap and left both the winger and fullback in his wake as he sidestepped his way around the number fifteen to get a clear run over. Harris however wasn’t able to add two extra points with the last play of the half and the scoreboard at half time read Sarries 34 Tewkesbury 10.
Early into the second half saw Saracens forcing the pressure. Harris himself put his name down on the score sheet, as a dummy pass and sublime pace saw him cruise past the visiting defence and touch down under the posts. He added two from the tee and Saracens built on this good start to the second half.
Tewkesbury managed to get back on track with a try of their own after fullback Rimmer saw himself sent to the bin for not being 10 metres when making a tackle on a tapped penalty. Tewkesbury made the man advantage count and after banging on the Saracens’ door, after phases after phase, managed to sneak in. The conversion however, was not on target.
Still down to fourteen men, Saracens forwards started to dictate play again. With phases deep in the Tewkesbury half, lock John Welsh bundled over for a try just right of the posts. Harris converted with ease and Saracens lead stood at 48-15.
Harris’ pace shone through again as the away defence couldn’t deal with it. After seemingly running himself into trouble, the young fly-half crossed the whitewash but deep in the corner. He wasn’t able to convert his own try, as the angle proved to be just slightly too much.
Try number nine for Saracens came through Captain, James McMahon, who broke away after a opportunistic line-out where Saracens didn’t lift any jumpers. McMahon, in the middle of the line-out caught the low floated Tewskbury throw and hit the gap between the two jumping pods and charged over for another five points. Harris managed to stay calm and kicked an extra two points. The scoreboard now read Saracens 60, Tewkesbury 15.
Rimmer added try number ten with the last play of the match. Receiving the ball from Harris, he weaved his way around the on-rushing winger, and used his speed to back himself against his opposite number and crossed the line with ease. Harris notched up the extra two points and Saracens strolled into the Gloucestershire Senior Vase Semi-Finals with a final score of Cheltenham Saracens 67 – 15 Tewkesbury RFC.
Gloucestershire Echo Report