It’s a festival of rugby as Sods visit Cheltenham

March 27 2017

With the Cheltenham festival foremost in the locals minds, Sodbury found the going at Saracens good to firm and expected to be able to put their running game into practice. After an encouraging start including long phases of posession, things went awry for the visitors and Saracens found themselves 8-0 to the good.

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Cheltenham Saracens 25 Chipping Sodbury 25 

With the Cheltenham festival foremost in the locals minds, Sodbury found the going at Saracens good to firm and expected to be able to put their running game into practice. After an encouraging start including long phases of posession, things went awry for the visitors and Saracens found themselves 8-0 to the good. 

Saracens managed to keep the visitors in their own half for the first 20 minutes until conceding their only penalty of the half at a 5 m scrum. This allowed Sodbury to clear up field, to take a deep breath and have a word with themselves. 

It’s still not clear what was said but losing the ensuing lineout couldn’t have been in the plan.  However, when Saracens’ fly half cleared the ball poorly, Joe Horton was ready. He caught the ball on the half way line, looked up and plotted his route. There are few finer broken field runners than Horton and he lived up to his reputation with a run leading to a touchdown wide on the left. 

However, the Sods bungled the restart allowing Saracens to score a try just two minutes after Sodbury's opener.

Skipper for the day Dom Pullen rallied his men and when the Sods secured a turnover from the restart he set off toward the try line. Pullen exudes power and he stayed on his feet long enough for the Luke Balentine-Smith to receive a pass which he swiftly offloaded to Dave Guest. 

Guest had 30m to go but his turn of pace was mesmerising as he rounded two tackles before bashing the final one away for a try wide on the left. 

Play then became a little bogged down between the 22’s until Niall Kincaid, who was catching the selector's eye at no.8, burst from a central scrum. Quick ruck ball found Pullen on another straight run before releasing Dan Bradley who drifted through the defence unmolested to touch down wide on the left.

From a ruck, Horton got involved before handing the ball back to Bradley. As the cover poured across Guest turned up to take the scoring pass after a 70m run from the initial scrum. Bagging two tries in a game was just reward for a man who is hitting top form and making contributions in open play and asa hooker. 

Some 10 minutes later Sodbury conceded a try from a 20m lineout. With a bonus point now in the bag the score was still tight. Turning over a Saracens lineout gave Sodbury some surprise possession Jon Cook, who showed some searing pace, scorched the turf on his way in to score from 40m out. 

Sodbury were to rue the fact that not one of their five tries was converted. During an extended period of injury time two of their players were yellow carded. Despite the team collectively emptying their tanks the missing men weighed heavy and the Sods simply ran out of cover and were unable to stop Saracens touching down and converting resulting in the game ending tied at 25-a-piece.

Photo credit to Jeff Gendall Photography.