Bristol Saracens 20-16 Avon Rugby Club
Western Counties North
Sat 27th Sept 14
Written by Steve Bird
Avon had to settle for a losing bonus point as they surrendered their unbeaten record in a narrow 20 points to 16 defeat at Bristol Saracens. Featuring 11 brothers in their squad, this result leaves them in 3rd position in Western Counties North, which overall is a good outcome for the first month of the season in this highly competitive league.
With Chas Meddick and Ollie Flight both out with injuries, this allowed the ubiquitous Ian Burnell to move up to anchor the scrum whilst newcomer Nick Tribe made his debut at scrum half. But these changes were not the reason for Avon’s demise as, collectively, the team turned in a strangely lacklustre performance in contrast to their opponents who were hungrier for the win.
The writing was on the wall after 5 minutes when Sarries developed an innocuous looking attack before their centre fended off a poor tackle in midfield for their opening try. Although Avon clawed their way back into the lead with two penalties from Rob Fitch, they failed to string together any fluent play against some committed defence.
It was no real surprise when Sarries regained the lead as their supporting runners took advantage of some more shoddy tackling to score another converted try. For a while the game took on a form of aerial ping pong with some aimless kicking as both sides struggled to develop any real pattern to their play before it degenerated further into a mass brawl. With the home hooker yellow carded, Avon came close from a lineout drive before taking a strike against the head which allowed Tribe to put Fitch clear down the blindside for a try in the corner.
Turning round a point behind and with the benefit of the slope, Avon felt confident that the second half would prove more positive but again struggled to develop any cohesive attacks apart from a few individual forays from Tribe, Stuart Dilloway and Ben Dilloway.
In fact Saracens scored next through a penalty to extend their lead before Avon finally sprang into life. Good approach work from the pack recycled possession to suck in the home defence before a cutout pass put replacement winger Glen Atherton clear to score a try with his first touch of the ball.
At 16-15 Avon sought to close the game out but Saracens responded strongly and created a well taken try from a clever counter attack for the winning score in the corner.
Next week Avon are at home to Burnham.