1st XV v Old Colstonians 1st Feb 2014

The almost traditional end-of-January bug affected the organisation for second in the table Saracens. With prop Henry Lord and scrum-half Matt Kelly too ill to play on the morning of the match, the Cheltenham side had to quickly re-shuffle just minutes before kick off.

The game started in typical quick fashion, with heavy hits from the home side following their kick off. Saracens retained possession well and sent Colstonians back into their own half -where they would spend all of the first half in- with a long wind assisted kick.
Following a knock-on by Will Dove trying to steal the lineout ball, the away side dismantled the home scrum, even with Colstonians’ big set of forwards.

Following the fast start, the game broke down slightly with both sides making mistakes and giving away penalties. Eventually, another gigantic shove from Saracens turned over a Colstonians’ scrum, which allowed outside centre Jonah Manu to make distance with a strong run, which got him to the try line but was deemed to be held up. After another big shove, Sarries gave away a penalty at the breakdown, and the home side kicked for touch. The ball stayed in play however, due to the wind, and sat nicely for a clean catch by Sam Rimmer who ran a 40 yard maze of players before being tackled just short of the try line.

It was a tapped penalty by Colstonians’ which gifted Saracens their first points, as the ball was knocked on by the backs allowing the away side to recycle the ball with the advantage, allowing Rimmer to out run the home defence and touch it down in the right corner. Returning fly-half Brad Harris missed the conversion.

From the restart, Saracens started phases and used the wind to kick long and keep Colstonians’ in their own half. A good chase from left winger Matt Williams almost lead to a try but it was tapped down for a drop out. Following a poor drop out, Saracens made the possession count by setting up phases before a bit of sloppy play was rectified as stand-in scrum-half Shaun Meheran popped the ball off for Matt Williams to slot it down in the left corner, this try was also unconverted.

Again after the restart, Saracens used the wind to send the ball back to Old Colstonians. A good chase from Jonah Manu and Damien Freili stopped any chance of a return run and allowed for a penalty against the home side which Harris converted as the last play of the half.

HT score OCRFC 0- 13 CSRFC

The second started with the same intensity, with Old Colstonians’ managing to create a few phases of play and work the away defence. They used the wind themselves to take the ball into Saracens territory and gained a penalty at the breakdown. This was converted.

After a bit of back and forth rugby, with both sides gaining ground but still making strong tackles, the Saracens third try came from winger Wayne Smallman, who made an appearance from the bench to replace Damien Freili at centre. The winger-come-centre’s pace and strength made a big impact after minutes of coming on, as a short but strong run set up phases in the middle of the pitch. It was off the back of one of these phases that he received a pop pass and broke a tackle to sprint down the field, only being caught by the fullback as he reached the line. Harris’ kick swang just too far left of the far post, possibly compensating for the wind, and the try went unconverted.

Following the restart, a catch by second-row Will Dove, was set up for Smallman but a huge hit caused him to knock on. Smallman would eventually be replaced by Freili as a shoulder injury sustained in the hit wouldn’t be able to be run off.

With both sides grinding each other to a halt in the midfield, the Saracens managed a fourth and final try with new signing Jonah Manu. After receiving a pass just inside the Colstonians’ half, Manu managed to break a tackle and run clear, supported by right winger Chris Wilkinson, to touch down under the posts. Harris added two points with a simple kick.

An injury to the Saracens front row saw coach Michael Pitman enter the match for the last ten minutes and Saracens’ defence held out for a bonus point win.

Final Score Old Colstonians 3 Sarries 25

2nd XV v Berry Hill 2’s 25th Jan 2014

Sarries made the much awaited forest trip with a very strong looking squad and arrived in good time at a rainy and windswept berry hill.
A good positive warm up ensued and the game kicked off.

Within approx 20 mins sarries were 3 tries to the good from Richardson (2) and Arkell after great powerful surges from forwards and backs alike against the wind and the slope. Harris converted 2.

Berry Hill seemed shocked as they had the elements and slope with them but soon snapped awake as they utilised the strong wind to gain a foothold in the Sarries 22. Sloppiness and lack of concentration cost Sarries dearly as the hill 9 (who was their MOM in writers opinion) sneaked over for 2 cheeky tries along with a pushover try and a penalty to take the lead into the 2nd half….24-19.
A few changes at halftime saw the Sarries pack start to dominate at scrums, however the lineout did not function all day..which left the backs dereft of any go forward. A lot of decisions went against Sarries which allowed hill to pepper the corner and set up try scoring chances…ruck defence was a lot better but eventually they succumbed to the pressure allowing a further 2 tries to be scored. Sarries supposed indiscipline cost them dear as every time they made headway they were forced back by a penalty of some description. A final converted try for Lewis was scant consolation for a Sarries side who on a drier surface and day maybe would have forced the positive result.

Mom is given to Dom Richardson as he scored 2 tries and was resolute in defence.

Final Score Berry hill 2’s -36,sarries 2’s -25

Elvis at the Sarries

The 8th of February 2014 will see Elvis tribute act Kev Cripps entertain at the Sarries. Put on your best Elvis fancy dress (optional) and get yourself to the club for what will undoubtedly be anothersuccessful evening at KGV.

Elvis1

U18s v Clifton

Signs were ominous after just a few minutes when Clifton’s back line showed some smart handling to score under the posts. Sarries responded swiftly with winger, Connor Anderson, kicking a perfectly weighted ball down the wing and over the try line, to touch down (5-7).

Sarries fly half, Tom Hage, punished Cliftons ill discipline, kicking a penalty to take the lead 8 – 7. Pressure from Sarries forwards, who were dominating the scrums, saw flanker, Charles Peters, run 20 yards taking the game to 15 – 7.

Sarries complacency allowed Clifton to move the ball through their backs, demonstrating excellent handling skills and pace of play, which rewarded them with 3 quick tries, before the half time whistle (15 – 28). Clifton keen to continue their game plan, released the ball through their backs out wide, to score the first try of the second half, leaving a shell-shocked Sarries 20 points behind. Sarries, desperate to regain composure and following a much needed team talk from skipper Harry Beaver, resulted in a change of tact which saw the forwards dominate possession. Big hits and aggressive play, saw 2nd row, Ryan White charge through Clifton’s defensive line following a tap penalty (22 – 35). Quick thinking by centre, Harry Lodge, who took a quick tap penalty, catching Clifton off guard resulted in a further try (27 – 35).

Game plan sorted, it seemed all hopes would be dashed when Clifton’s winger broke free and ran the length of the pitch to score, taking them 13 points in front, with just 12 minutes to go. Sarries were awarded a penalty which Tom Hage punished with a huge kick to the Clifton 5 metre line. Sarries pack drove the ball over the line allowing Kierran White to touch down (32 – 40). Just 2 minutes later it was deja vous for Clifton, when Tom kicked the ball in exactly the same spot but this time a misplaced line out ball gave Clifton the scrum. A tackle from Sarries scrum half, Joe Prosser, on his opposite number saw Clifton spill the ball which Charles Peters pounced on and gratefully placed over the line (39 – 40). Pressure, determination and belief from a re-energised Sarries saw them camped in Clifton’s 5 metres when the ref called last play. Sarries forwards put in huge hits, sucking in Cliftons defence as Sarries spun the ball out wide to Connor Anderson for a try.

Final Score Sarries 44 Clifton 39.

1st XV v Coney Hill 18th Jan 2014

The Gloucester 1 fixture was delayed once again due to the pitch at Old Colstonians being unplayable. The ever resourceful chairman managed to get a fixture against Coney Hill 2nds, with the same game plan in mind to win and establish the Cheltenham Saracens as a force to be reckoned with throughout Gloucestershire.

It must be said that due to a difficult selection process due to high numbers at training and players in form, some very dangerous players were left out which left it looking promising for a win for all 3 Saracens sides!

Kick off commenced with the Sarries dominating every aspect of the game. Everything was coming together. Strong runs from Sam Rimmer, Matt Williams and Wayne Smallman disrupting the oppositions defence finally the back 3 linked up well which has been well overdue. With all the pressure from Sarries eventually a try came from good phases of play and hands from Rimmer to Smallman who got caught up near the line managed to off load to Williams bowling over in the corner unconverted, however Latchford took a dislike to a certain chosen hill player and the ball ended up striking him in the face, by accident of course.

The Sarries at this point were dictating how the game was going taking everything and giving nothing. This allowed a powerful solid line from Jack Lawrenson to break the line and score. Latchford Converted. Another scrum for the Sarries allowed the skipper Jimmy Mac to pick up and offload to the deceptively strong Tom Patience carrying the ball from the 22 over the line with 3 players still attached to him. Undoubtedly this would not be the final word of the half as inevitably Sam Rimmer making yards upon yards as usual went over to seal the first half 26 – 0 as Latchford converted.

The second half kicked off with a drop in temperature and the Saracens playing into the wind and as usual any Cheltonian player knows that Gloucester teams do not give up easily. A slight lull in performance allowed the Coney Hill Players to ruck hard and get the ball to their very quick fullback eating up the yards to score in the corner. The new found team tightness and cohesion allowed the Saracens to stick together and see out the pressure. The game played on with both teams playing very well until Winger Wayne Smallman made a crunching tackle on the Coney Hill Flanker unfortunately sheer power and momentum took the player off his feet and was deemed a dangerous tackle by the referee who issued Smallman 10 minutes in the cooler. With a man down the Coney Hill backs took advantage of the extra player and ran down the missing man’s channel to score unconverted. The Saracens had the final say with Richard Coleman (the 2nd row) out wide trundling over and being converted.

Overall a very positive performance, however going into next week’s league fixture at Bream RFC the Sarries will have to be far more clinical but play with the same positive and mental never say die attitude.

Writers MOM would go to either Henry Lord for some great crash balls and yards gained and very good performance in the Scrum, or Will Dove for just pure graft throughout the game and disrupting so much opposition lineout ball.