Sarries 3rds had a tough fixture ahead of them against Longlevens 2nds in their second Merit Table fixture. Longlevens immediately came out of the blocks applying pressure to the Sarries’ defence from the off. Through a vigorous piece of defending, the ball was turned over and handed to Crisp who kicked into the opponents half thus relieving the pressure. This is where the Sarries would stay for a majority of the first half with searching runs from Crisp, Betteridge and White. Even when possession was with Longlevens, supreme defence kept the opposition in their own half. When the whistle blew for half-time, the score was all even at 0-0.
Within two minutes of the restart Sarries were awarded a penalty just outside the 22 which was perfectly kicked to give the home team a 3-0 advantage. Longlevens took the restart and immediately turned the ball over, shipping it to their large and fast number 13 who skirted his way around the outside for a try. This was quickly followed by another converted try by the away team and, within five minutes, another. Sarries were down 17-3 but dug deep giving 110% effort defending with passion and courage. Eventually, the fitness of the opposition came through and a further two tries were added five minutes from the final whistle.
The final score of 3-27 to Longlevens did not reflect how close the game was and the herculean effort that was given by all of the Sarries. Accolades go to all of the team for an outstanding performance with a special mention to stand-in captain Francis who controlled the Sarries game. However, writers MOM must go to someone who, although was only going to play the first half, soldiered on well into the second half with huge defensive hits and ground making attacks; Betsy.
Martin Prossers second XV started their merit league against formidable opponents lydney. The game started with Sarries going up the hill, dominating the set piece plays and making ground only for mistakes occurring to allow Lydney to clear and gain territory. Lydney were trying everything to break the Sarries defence but struggled to get through. Eventually the Sarries mistakes proved costly as turnovers and silly infringements allowed Lydney to go over for 3 tries before half-time. 19-0.
The second half couldn’t have started worse for Sarries, literally straight from the kick off, Lydney worked the ball wide and their speedy backs were through to score. A big turning point was however the set piece as Lydneys loose head went off injured and they went uncontested for the remainder of the game.
This allowed their young back row more freedom as the pressure on their own ball at scrums was released, so they could run at our backs. Sarries defended stoutly and manfully but lack of fitness and unfamiliarity let Lydney cut loose and score some well worked tries. Sarries were undaunted and made it a mission to register a try on the scoreboard. This eventually came as the backs clicked from another lineout turnover by the forwards and was fed across for Tim perks to draw the man and give the scoring pass to young Connor Anderson.
A very sobering first game in merit league 1 against a side with players pushing for a place in a national league squad. The Sarries have now seen the standard they are going to have to aspire to. To remain competitive in this very tough league can only be achieved by training together as a squad as much as possible.
Writers MOM was quite difficult as all players tried their utmost throughout the game despite the scoreline. Special mention to Richie Coleman filling in despite having just returned from an operation and new player John Crowford, but in my opinion it goes to Kristian Williams who was powerful going forward, strong in defence, and led the side after Martin Prossers injury, keeping the side motivated despite the scoreline.
Final Score Saracens 2’s – 5, Lydney 2’s – 65
It was another disappointing week for the Saracens 1st XV, who again went down to a strong Longlevens team. Both squads were altered, with a number of players returning from holiday and injury for the Sarries. Determined for a better first half performance than last week, the home warm up was strong, but within a few minutes of the starting whistle, a 5m scrum lead to a Longlevens try. This woke the Sarries up, and the home team gradually started to dominate the contact and breakdown. Continued pressure gained an attacking scrum 10m out, for Captain Jimmy McMahon to jog over unimpeded.
Then a evenly matched stalemate ensued, both sides with fairly equal territory and possession, but It was Longlevens who broke it, with two tries, one of them a fantastic solo effort from the outside centre from within his own 22. The Sarries managed to finish the first half strongly, with two strong 8 man tries from lineouts within the opposition 22, openside Leroy Hughes the man to ground the ball on both occasions.
25-17 at half time to Longlevens.
The second half again displayed two fairly even sides, but Sarries indiscipline and errors let Longlevens keep the advantage, and build their score. Despite a close range try from winger Matt Williams, it was not enough to get the home team in front, and the Sarries again left to rue their mistakes. Plenty of positives to take from another game played by a new team, still learning to play together. To gain a close result against another outfit who will undoubtedly be battling for promotion shows a lot of promise.
Writers MOM Shaun Meheran, for without his covering tackles the away score would have certainly been higher.
Final Score Saracens 22 Longlevens 34
An influx of National League power and experience can help Cheltenham Saracens turn the tide against Longlevens tomorrow, writes Nick Purewal.
Saracens lost out 22-18 to the Gloucester men in the County Cup last weekend. And now they host the very same side in tomorrow’s Gloucester One season opener (kick-off 3pm). The King George V men head into the new campaign buoyant after a host of new summer arrivals.
Head coach and Gloucester prop Rupert Harden takes the reins for his second term, with full-back Olly Morgan holding two sessions a month focusing on backs defence. And new captain Jimmy McMahon and openside flanker Leroy Hughes are ready to make their club debuts tomorrow.
Rugby director Mike Pitman said former Lydney number eight McMahon and ex-Moseley and Old Patesians flanker Hughes will bolster Saracens’ physicality and bite up front. He explained: “We were frustrated to concede a couple of sloppy tries last week, and now we are really hoping we can give a better account of ourselves in the second match of this double-header. “Jimmy has just started a new business, and with a young family, he couldn’t commit to all the travelling with Lydney. “So he’s a real coup of a signing for us. “And Leroy is another with a lot of quality who will do well – he’s already helping out with coaching where required, and that’s paying off extremely well.”
Saracens host their annual old boys’ day tomorrow, and any former players are invited to arrive for a buffet at 2pm.
With Saracens 2nds hosting Lydney 2nds at home too, Pitman expects a compelling afternoon on two fronts. He continued: “We are very pleased with progress at the club right now, we have good numbers to training and for matches. “And we’re able to put out three sides, with our third team travelling to take on Cirencester 3rds tomorrow as well.”
In the first of the Sarries v Longlevens home double-header, The Sarries started confidently. A turnover inside the home team’s 22, and some quick hands lead to a foot race between big Sarries winger Matt Williams and the Longlevens backs, but despite a determined chase, Williams powered over the 90 meters to score. 5-0 to the Sarries within the same number of minutes.
The Cheltenham side then struggled to find any flow in the remainder of the first half. A scrum against the head lead to the first away converted try, and then sloppy defence from kick chase gifted Longlevens to two further tries within a five min period. Despite some huge hits from Skipper Gareth Rogers and flanker Scott Rowe, Sarries failed to gain any momentum, with only a consolation penalty from Brad Harris adding to the score line. Half time score 22-8
Some honest words from the coaching team at half time re-galvanised the Sarries. Controlled by fly half Brad Harris, the team found their shape, with the forwards making inroads into the opposition defence to again unleash Williams on a half break up the midfield. A good offload nearly saw centre Jack Lawrenson away but for a last ditch tackle.
The Saracens continued as the dominating team of the half, disrupting set-piece and threatening the defence. A break by openside Shaun Meheran supported by his teammates nearly made the line, but was halted painfully short. It was by no means a one-team half. Longlevens continued to hammer the Sarries line, but narrow and wide, the defence held out. A penalty to touch put the Sarries into the opposition 22, and a fantastic driving Lineout put Rowe over to get the Sarries back on the score sheet. Then after a series of solid phases, a miss pass from Harris put prolific try scorer Sam Rimmer over in the corner, but unfortunately that was all the Sarries could manage. Despite threatening the Longlevens try line on a number of occasions, the team couldn’t convert prolonged pressure into points. Many positives to take into the same fixture next week in the league competition.
Writers MOM Scott ‘Venus” Rowe for the usual relentless work-rate in both attack and defence.
Final score Cheltenham Saracens 18 Longlevens 22.