Cheltenham Saracens 22
Barts Rugby 6
Fourth hosted third as Cheltenham Saracens welcomed Barts Rugby to King George V.
Barts’ start to the match didn’t go as planned as they kicked off directly into touch and were then penalised at the scrum on halfway. From this, Saracens were allowed to control the opening stages, with all of the action being focused in the visitor’s half of the pitch, unable to clear the ball any further than the halfway line.
Eventually the pressure paid off for Saracens, returning a clearing kick, won a penalty at the ruck and kicked for touch. The lineout saw the maul set a good platform, allowing Adam Geering to receive a pass from the back of the pack and spin out of a tackle to crash over halfway between the posts and corner flag. Stand-in kicker, scrum-half Jack Medcroft was unable to convert and Sarries took a five point lead.
Barts responded physically and dug out short gains through their forwards before managed to claw a score back, slotting a penalty in front of the posts. This closed the gap to 5-3.
After tough phases from Barts, Sarries extended their lead after fullback Will Hewer returned a long kick with a winding run, before offloading to centre Luke Morgan, who in turn set up Hewer for another run. After Barts finally stopped Hewer, the quick ball from the ruck was enough to put the backs through with young winger Connor Anderson capping off the move, gliding over almost unopposed. Medcroft was again unable to convert but Sarries lead by 7 points.
The game ebbed and flowed for the rest of the half, with both sides exchanging possession and kicks. Barts were awarded a penalty for offside, but elected to kick to touch, ending the first half.
Half Time: Saracens 10-3 Barts.
Saracens piled on the pressure in the early stages of the second half, and after securing a penalty, Medcroft kicked to touch and put the forwards to work. The resulting maul set the platform again and the attack was ended by Luke Morgan, who stormed over in the corner for another unconverted try. Saracens now held a 15-3 lead.
Barts returned, determined to not let the gap extend and the hard, demanding phases through their forwards won a penalty. This was dispatched, and Barts doubled their score; 15-6.
Barts knocked-on from the restart, giving Sarries a scrum and this allowed the backs to run an organised move. Fullback Hewer, already having set up a try, put his own name down amongst the scorers, as he sold the defence a dummy and shrugged off a tackle to go over, but made sure to tap down right under the posts to make it an easy kick for Medcroft, who didn’t miss. Sarries now stood 22-6 clear of their third placed opponent.
Sarries could have bagged another in the dying moments, as two Barts players headed to the sin bin. However, despite camping themselves on the Barts 5m line, the hosts could not find a way through.
The game ended quietly, with both teams exchanging kicks, before Barts attempted a break away on the overlap but a knock-on ended their attack and the match.