After a relatively narrow victory over Cheltenham Saracens at home earlier in the season (25-14), the 1st XV Squad travelled to Cheltenham looking for last week's good form to continue and to notch up a good victory in this last but one league fixture of the season. With one League fixture left for the 1st XV, at home next Saturday 9 April, vs Clifton II, this week provided an opportunity to say a BIG thank you to everyone that has supported the teams whether at home, but especially on the away trips, throughout the 2021/22 season. Indeed, it was very poignant and nice to see that all the travelling supporters at Saturday's 1st XV game were invited to join the post-match huddle and be thanked in person, a nice touch!
1st XV SQUAD: Lloyd Robling, James Brooke, Jack Houlder, Adam Skyner, Dom Horn, Rhys Edwards, Will Tobin, Ned Sweeney, Will Appleton, Mat Carr, Pat Dore, Jamie Halpin, Sam Brewer, Luke Jagger, Ben Barnett (C), Rob Lee, Joe Watkins, Henry Kirkpatrick.
MATCH REPORT: Skipper for the day, Ben Barnett, led his team out onto the Saracens pitch on a sunny but chilly April afternoon looking focused for the game. Indeed, Es had the better of the first twenty minutes spending 90% of the time in the opposition's half, but small errors, knock ons and wayward passes that went astray prevented Es building a commanding lead in this time. Amongst others Pat Dore went close as did Ben Barnett. Both the Es' scrum and lineout were looking good with Es stealing the ball in the first of a few in the lineout. It was this pressure and a kick out from defence by Saracens that led to Es' first try as Luke Jagger collected the ball and broke through the home team's defence for a good opening score but he could not top his try with a conversion (0-5).
After this opening spell Cheltenham Saracens started to build up a head of steam and were rewarded when an Es' kick out of defence was charged down giving them an easy try and conversion under the posts, the first of two real gifts Es would give Saracens during the game. Es retook the lead shortly afterwards with a successful 30m penalty kick by Jagger (7-8). However the lead was short lived as Saracens earned themselves a well-deserved try + Conversion in the corner (14-8).
As a former second row player it was immensely pleasing to see Horn and Skyner linking well down the left hand wing! The scrum with front row Houlder, Brooke and Robling were really shoring up the scrum giving scrum-half Will Appleton a good base to provide Es with good attacking rugby opportunities. Es stayed in touch score wise with a further successful 35m penalty kick from Jagger (14-11).
Back Row players Edwards and Tobin were doing a lot of foraging in the breakdown and earning Es further forward momentum. Es' handling had improved and they mounted continuous attacks before a try from Ben Barnett gave them the lead again (14-16).
Skyner led the next attack with a good run before the ball was lost then recovered by Tobin and a quick penalty move by Tobin saw the ball swiftly through hands across the pitch and back again for a well-deserved try by Robling, not converted (14-21 Half Time)
No changes at the start of the second half but it wasn't long before replacement Finishers, Lee, Watkins and Kirkpatrick found themselves in the action. Will Appleton made a great break from the lineout followed by a burst from Jamie Halpin before in the next action a couple of miss passes from fly half Matt Carr led to a good break of the defence by Ned Sweeney for the bonus point try + Jagger conversion (14-28). Es added to this moments later through a further successful penalty kick from Jagger (14-31).
Es were playing some really entertaining rugby and a good offload by Halpin put Sam Brewer through for a try with conversion from Jagger (14-38). Then in defence Es made the second of two telling errors when a dropped ball was scooped up and Saracens were over for a 7 pointer (21-38).
This was a small blip as Es scoring continued with another pounce on a miss pass with Sam Brewer scoring under the posts and the extras provided once again by Jagger (21-45). Rob Lee is looking as if he is back to form after a long lay-off and one offload in the tackle was sublime! A continued and good rotation of players was managed well by Coach Heiny keeping Es' legs fresh. Rhys Edwards was having a solid game as was Pat Dore as he vied with Jagger for seasons top try scorer! Jagger was on top form as he made a break before a good pass by Wapps put Joe Watkins in for a try + Jagger conversion (21-52).
Another lineout steal by Es gave the basis for some further attacking rugby which led to a try by Ben Barnett. Great attacking, great defence, superb tackles from the likes of Henry Kirkpatrick led to Full time with the score standing at (21-59)
A well-deserved victory for Es with some thoroughly entertaining rugby! Even in the last 5 minutes Es defended three 5m line-outs where Saracens failed to drive over the Es' line and the Blue Wall stood firm.
This all sets itself up nicely for next week's game at home (3:00pm ko) against Clifton II.
FINAL SCORE: Cheltenham Saracens 21 – 59 Old Elizabethans
Man of the Match: This could have easily been awarded to Luke Jagger for his points tally, or to Ben Barnett for a great skippers performance and 2 tries but in the end the MoM was deservedly given to Will Appleton who looked rock solid at scrum half and made some good breaks.
Tries: Ben Barnett (2), Sam Brewer (2), Ned Sweeney, Joe Watkins, Luke Jagger, Lloyd Robling
Conversions: Luke Jagger (5)
Penalties: Luke Jagger (3)
Next Saturday 9 April is Ladies Day at the club (free Prosecco for your lady!!) including the Dom Swann Testimonial match starting at 1:00 PM as a prelude to the last 1st XV match of the season at 3:00 PM against Clifton 2nds . Be sure to arrive early (by 1pm) to catch the Testimonial.
Full Table and Fixture List below
Paul “Blakey” Barrington
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