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2002-2003 Match Analysis

Click here to see 1999/2000 season's writeups.

Presidents XV versus Chairmans XV - 3rd May 2003
      A great day had by all. See the photos here.

Morganians - 12th April 2003
      Bath Saracens played host to Morganians from Bridgwater in their last Somerset league game of the season and ran away with a 38-10 victory. Morganians had the larger, more powerful pack but could not cope with Sarries greater mobility and 15 man rugby.

Sarries opened the scoring with a fine try from winger Chris Carmichael. Lock, Duncan Guthrie who had an excellent game, won a line out on the far side of the pitch. The ball was moved quickly through the Sarries backs and good support play from flanker Rob Lawrence set Carmichael up to brush aside his opposite number and score in the corner. This set the stage and Morganians were put under continuous pressure. More interplay between forwards and backs saw captain and Number 8, Andy Blackburn cross for Sarries second try. Great ball handling in the backs saw Centre Gareth Hind score the third try. Scrum Half Tudor Croft added Two conversions for a half time score of 19-0 to Bath Saracens.

Saracens continued the pressure after the break. After winning a line out deep in their own 22, a Morganians defender was forced into an error and captain Andy Blackburn pounced on a loose ball for his second try.

With Sarries 24-0 up a few 'niggles' crept into the game. After a 'bust up' Scrum Half, Tudor Croft was shown a yellow card and Sarries were down to 14 men. They defended extremely well but were eventually worn down and Morganians crashed over from close range for their first points of the game. They then narrowed the gap further with an excellent opportunist try from their Right Winger who raced 50 metres to touch down.

Back to 15 men Sarries went on the attack again and added to further tries before the final whistle. The first came from centre Lee Garton who 'danced' around the Morganians defence and raced down the touch line to score in the corner. The final try came from Winger Carmichael who added his second in typical fashion, bludgeoning his way through and taking 2 defenders over the line with him to score beneath the posts. Croft converted both tries.

Having introduced many new players into their side this season Sarries will be pleased with their mid-table finish. Several of the players coming in were new to the game and have already made a considerable impact. At the recent national C.S.S.C. games at Millfield School The M.O.D. National Rugby 7's squad was made up almost entirely by Bath Saracens players. This side made the plate final and lost narrowly by 12-10.

Bath Saracens set off to Holland at the end of April for a Four day tour. They will be staying in Amsterdam and playing Two games, a Saturday fixture against R.C. West Friesland and a Sunday Fixture against R.C. Bulldogs of Almere.

Their season finishes on Saturday 3rd of May with the traditional inter-club Presidents XV v Chairman's XV fixture. This is followed by the Annual club dinner which will be held at the Bath RFC. club house on Friday 9th May.

Castle Cary - 15th March 2003
      Sarries arrived at their Somerset division 2 opponents with another 'new look ' side. The list of injuries is taking its toll with scrum-half Paul Kavanagh the latest key player to be missing after dislocating his shoulder the previous week.

The team however was in a optimistic mood as while losing in most of their recent fixtures they had put in some excellent performances. It has been particularly encouraging to see so many new faces contributing so well in important fixtures.

Sarries made a tremendous start. Their pack over ran the opposition in the set plays and first half tries from back row and captain Andy Blackburn, fly half Tudor Croft and centre Chris Carmichael. Carmichaels try was particularly spectacular. Catching a mis-kicked Cary restart, he raced over half the length of the pitch brushing off the Cary defence, and touched down beneath the posts. Sarries went into the half time break with a commanding 19-0 lead.

The second half was a different story. Using the slope and breeze to their advantage Cary completely turned the table. Their forwards upped their game and started to provide a share of possession to the backs. The gap in the score-line quickly closed and Sarries fortunes weren't helped when prop Martin Yarrow and lock Big Dan Curtis both went off injured. This prompted further 'reshuffling' and Sarries never recovered their momentum.

A controversial converted try didn't help and once again Sarries lost out at the end to a 24-19 score-line.

The club can reflect on the encouraging thing to come out of the recent run of disappointing results. With the number of injuries, unavailability's and new players influencing Andy and G's team selection, Sarries are not only fielding a team every week but providing serious opposition to all their established opponents in both league and friendly fixtures.

But for a couple of controversial referee's decisions in recent league games Sarries would have finished their league campaign in a comfortable top four position.

Blagdon - 1st March 2003
      Sarries forwards started impressively, dominating the line-outs and driving Blagdon back in the scrums. Unfortunately before this pressure could be turned into points the game was halted after a dreadful injury to back row Troy Newton. Troy suffered a broken leg and the game was held up for half an hour until he was able to be moved and taken off to hospital. The club wishes him a full recovery and speedy return.

Sarries took some time to get going after the restart but eventually took the lead with a try from scrum-half Paul Kavanagh. They went into the half time break with a 5-0 lead.

In the second half Blagdon quickly levelled the scores with an unconverted try. Saracens then raced into a 15-5 lead with a try from winger Chris Carmichael. Fly Half Tudor Croft added the conversion and penalty. Sarries looked to be in a position to run away with the game but Blagdon levelled the scores with a converted try and penalty of their own. Further disaster then struck. With a side reshaped during the game due to further injuries, scrum half Paul Kavanagh got 'sin binned' for an 'alleged high tackle'. Using this advantage Blagdon scored two late converted tries. This left no way back for Sarries and Blagdon ran out winners at 29-15.

Somerton - 28th January 2003
      Bath Saracens picked up two valuable league points away to Somerton at the weekend.

Boosted by the return of Skipper Andy Blackburn and Winger Mark Ricketts from long injuries, Saracens plans were disrupted by several last minute 'cry offs'. They responded however with one of their better performances of the season. Fly Half Tudor Croft was in excellent form scoring two tries, two penalties and a conversion.

No points were on the board at the end of the first quarter with the teams evenly matched in the loose and in the set play. Somerton then took the lead, with their lock crashing over from a lineout on the Saracens five yard line. Saracens immediately responded and good work in the loose by their forwards and a break by Scrum Half Paul Kavanagh put Croft through for his first try.

Further pressure saw the Sarries awarded a penalty deep in Somerton's half which Croft slotted over to give them an 8 - 5 lead. The backs were now playing really well and excellent handling in slippery conditions saw them go close several times before the break but no further points were added.

In the second half the game was closely contested with Somerton gaining the upper hand in the scrums. However the Saracens back row of Andy Blackburn, Rob Lawrence and Chris Carmichael was in excellent form, and when Somerton moved the ball wide the Sarries backs defence was as good as their ball handling.

The sides exchanged penalties, and then with the score at 11 - 8 Saracens increased their lead with a second try from Croft. Following up a long kick through, he out paced the Somerton defence and touched down near the posts. He then added the conversion.

Somerton then piled on the pressure but the Saracens defence held out for a long period with tremendous tackling from forwards and backs. Eventually Somerton squeezed over for a converted try to narrow the Saracens lead to 18 - 15.

Sarries the dominated the final period. Flanker Carmichael who has been a prolific try scorer on the wing, showed he can score from anywhere as he crashed over to increase the lead to 23 - 15. Saracens could easily have won by a greater margin as they crossed the Somerton line twice more before the final whistle. On each occasion the referee adjudged the ball to have not been properly grounded and no further points were added.

Castle Cary - 30th November 2002
      Bath Saracens earned valuable league points in a fixture against mid-table rivals Castle Cary.

Skipper Andy Blackburn had a full squad of players to choose from for the first time this season and a gritty performance secured a 20-14 win.

Sarries went in front early on with a try from a quickly taken penalty from scrum half Paul Kavanagh.

Cary then stepped up the pressure a took the lead with two converted tries, to give them a 14-5 lead at the break.

The second half was a different story with the Sarries taking the game to Cary who failed to score another point.

A penalty deep in the Cary half resulted in a try for fly half Tudor Croft which he subsequently converted.

Sarries continued to dominate the game and soon took the lead. Flanker Rob Lawrence linked up well with the backs to send Kavanagh over in the corner for his second try. Tempers began to fray and the referee awarded a series of penalties, Croft taking the opportunity to kick the Sarries further in front.

With time running out several further unsavoury incidents resulted in a Saracens player being yellow carded. Playing with a man down Sarries defended well and held out for a well deserved result.

Malmsbury - 23rd November 2002
      Bath Saracens scored a convincing win over Malmsbury, in a friendly at the Sulis club. Saracens played with a player short for most of the game with an injury to a Malmsbury player evening the sides up late in the game.

Saracens took the game to Malmsbury from the K.O. and early pressure set up a try for full back Ben Walmsley. This was converted by fly half Tudor Croft.

Malmsbury levelled the scores almost immediately with a converted try and a closely contested game looked likely.

Saracens then upped the tempo and stretched their lead with 2 tries from centre Mark Button and one from back row Dan Frankel. Tudor Croft added a conversion for a half time score of 24-7 to the Saracens.

In the second half with their seven forwards working hard to provide plenty of ball for their backs, Sarries piled up the points. Button added two further tries to finish with four, centre Lee Garton, wing Chris Carmichael and skipper Andy Blackburn added one try each and Garton and Croft shared five conversions. Malmsbury to their credit didn't give up and scored three more converted tries, the game finishing with the score at 59-28 to the Sarries.

Weston-Super-Mare XV - 16th November 2002
      Bath Saracens took on a Weston Super Mare XV in an entertaining game at the Sulis club.

Sarries welcomed back Prop Forward Alex Lees for the first time this season and veteran Full Back John Cooke played his first game for several years. Both players gave a good account of themselves as Sarries won a closely contested encounter by 29 - 22.

Forwards Paul Blankley and Scott Batchelor were both outstanding, however the man of the match award was shared by Centres Lee Garton and Chris Camichael. Between them they shared 5 Tries with Carmichael completing a hatrick.

Sarries performed well up front against a large and experienced Weston pack. With the ball moved wide at every opportunity Sarries always looked the more dangerous in the backs and took their chances well.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for full back Cooke who stepped up to convert Sarries final try.

Blagdon - 3rd November 2002
      Bath Saracens day did not start at all well.

With a number of injuries, holidays and last minute 'cry offs' they arrived for their league game at Blagdon with only 14 players. With 7 players in the pack and playing into the wind in the first half, Saracens were immediately put under pressure and were soon 2 converted tries behind.

Rather than letting their heads drop they upped their game and soon started to put Blagdon on the back foot. Fly Half, Tudor Croft pounced on a ball spilled during a moment of panic in the Blagdon defence and scored beneath the posts, adding the conversion. Then after a period of sustained pressure Centre, Lee Garton finished off yet another Saracens attack, Croft adding his 2nd conversion. With half time approaching 14 man Saracens found themselves on equal terms at 14-14. Blagdon then got themselves back in front with a breakaway try, against the run of play.

In the second half Saracens continued to put Blagdon under pressure. The 7 man pack was doing a fine job and were putting Blagdon under pressure on their own ball. Things then took a turn for the worse with Centre, Gareth Hind having to leave the field with a back injury. Down to 13 men, There was no longer any way back for Saracens. Blagdon added another couple of converted tries and eventually ran out 36-14 winners. By this time Sarries were down to 12 men having also lost flanker Paul Blankley with a blood injury!

Once again this season Saracens were delighted with the commitment and determination shown by all players. New signings Troy Newton( 2nd row) and Dan Nicholl (Wing) having particularly impressed.

Somerton - 28th September 2002
      Bath Saracens played Somerton in their first home match of the season. Plenty of supporters turned out and were treated to an excellent game of rugby, played in conditions more suited to cricket.

Before the match kicked off players and supporters held a minutes silence for former Bath Saracens captain Robin Luxmore, who died suddenly just before the start of the season. A large crowd attended the game, a tribute to Robin who will be sadly missed both as a player and a friend.

Saracens had the better of the early exchanges and played much of the first quarter deep in their opponents half.They were however unable to turn this advantage into points.

Somerton then began to get into the game and led by their outstanding Fijian number 8 Ray Lowata, they opened the scoring with a well taken try.

Saracens came back with a beautifully taken long range penalty from fly half Tudor Croft, but Lowata was now dominating the play and Somerton added two further tries for a 17-3 lead at half time.

The second half saw Saracens upping their efforts and gained plenty of possession, particularly from the scrum where hooker Rob Lawrence took 4 against the head.

Some excellent play in the backs saw winger Ben Walmsley crash over in the corner and then centre Lee Garton danced through the opposition to add another, Croft converting. Saracens continued to pressure the Somerton defence with some powerful running from wings Chris Carmichael and Walmsley who combined well with full back Mark Ricketts. Saracens then lost their concentration and the ever present Lotawa struck again, scoring his third try and setting up another, effectively making the game safe.

Saracens as in previous games this season refused to give up and hit back again with stalwart prop Chris Curtis capping a fine performance by popping up on the wing to score.

It was not enough to stop Somerton deservedly winning 29-20 but Saracens with several new players 'thrown in at the deep end' will be well pleased with the commitment, effort and overall performance. Somerton while playing their first season of league rugby will be more than a match for the Somerset Division 2 if they continue to put together this sort of performance.

Avonvale - 21st September 2002
Text from the Bath Chronicle 23rd September 2003
      Avonvale overcame the plucky resistance of Bath Saracens to clinch a 53-26 win in the Powergen Junior Cup.

The home side ran in nine tries, but Saracens never stopping battling and deservedly notched up four tries of their own.

Avonvale skipper Alex Fereday continued his impressive run of form with a hat-trick.

Chris Hobbs and Steve Johnson picked up two tries apiece, while others came from Jason Russell and club captain Andrew Ball.

Fereday and Alan Hobbs shared four conversions.

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