As our merry rag-tag convoy of vehicles arrived at the host ground, we knew we had at least a picturesque venue for the tough game ahead of us, with the warm sun glinting off the waves in the Bristol Channel. Forewarned of the strength of the Sully Sports pack and some direct runners in midfield, the Cardiff Saracens’ campaign did not get off to the best of starts before the whistle was even blown, with a front row crisis and missing players. After frantic phone calls and no doubt the calling in of long-held favours, Stuart Lane the Coach was left with 17 players with which to build his matchday squad.
The unfamiliarity of Sarries combinations soon cost us dear as the home side blasted through a scrambling defence with two converted tries in quick succession. One of these came from a horror of a bouncing ball that defied physics to leap from the deck straight into the only part of the ground that didn’t have a Cardiff Saracens player waiting for it … sadly this was occupied by a Sully player running at full tilt. The pitch was later inspected for hidden springs.
Thus stung into action, our gallant band began to shake into action and dizzied their opponents with some slick passing and incisive running. The pack courageously stuck to their task, despite being outmuscled (or perhaps just outweighed) to provide a good platform. Matt ‘Squinty’ Morgan fired some enthusiastic passes out into the general area of midfield where the sure hands of Sanatogen’s new poster boy, Chris Parks and the hard tackling Ian Dunne were sure to put on a show for the Sully heavyweights. The home backs struggled to match the pace, especially since they were apparently carrying more spare tires than a Kwik-Fit depot.
Desperate for a rest, their forwards also seemed too sleepy to be running about in the muggy conditions and greeted each ruck as an opportunity for a little lie-down … on our side. The ref seemed sympathetic to their fatigue and allowed them a measure of leeway that seemed a tad generous. Rucking generous in fact. Eventually, however, he was able to rub the sleep out of his eyes and began to award the odd penalty, possibly just for fun. Martin Gurr stepped up and began to convert some tricky old kicks into points. Joey Ellis took a superb ball on a late run from Chris Parks and looked certain to score a near length of the field try, but the Sully defence managed to drift across in time and snuff the move out into touch.
The second half saw the Saracens step up the pace again as the home side started to call for pillows. Snarling with impatience, and hungrier for the ball than Cinderella in a new frock, Mr Ellis then enjoyed some lovely interplay with Charlie Porter down the left wing, before touching down over the line. Things got even better as Chris Parks took a break from filming a Werther’s Original advert, to slice through on a lovely angle and score the Saracens’ second try.
Things were on the up now; we were only a single score behind and chasing Sully down all the way. Unfortunately the referee continued to struggle with his eye cataracts and it became something of a free-for-all at the breakdown … or indeed wherever the ball was. As Sully were able to bring on fresh replacements, our players had given their all in dehydrating heat and the game then slipped away with a couple of late tries for the home team, that put a more flattering gloss on the result than the respective performances probably warranted.
At the end of the day the Saracens came up against a good side, well drilled and with settled combinations who began the match at the sprint whilst we were still adjusting to our game. The boys in the Cardiff Saracens shirts can be proud of how well they fought and in the end the game came down to a couple of small things out the players’ control, namely the unwillingness of the referee to enforce the rucks properly and one freakish bounce of the ball. Ifs and buts between us and a great away win (if my Uncle had wotsits he’d be my Aunt), but no one on that pitch, or watching, can be in any doubt that things will be a lot different when they visit us for the return fixture. Wait till they meet our potholes and mosquitos for a start.
Final score. Sully Sports RFC 33 v Cardiff Saracens RFC 21
Paul 'Where's Billy Williams?' Cubbin
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