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2003-2004 Match Analysis

Click here to see last season's writeups.


Presidents/Chairmans - 1st May 2004
See the photos here.

Holmes Chapel - 25th April 2004
Bath Saracens 31 V Holmes Chapel 47

Another very enjoyable match for players and spectators alike. Two Congleton players turned out for Bath Saracens and Captain Gareth Hind had the unusual problem of having to juggle a playing strength of 20 plus.

Right from the kick off it was obvious that Chapel's three quarters, who were regular first team players, were going to be their main strength as they swept up field and scored under the posts after just 2 minutes. However Sarries regrouped, tackled well and although they were often stretched they hit back with 3 tries in rapid succession and found themselves 19-7 up after 25 minutes. First Mark Button (Man of the Match) made a blind side break from 30 metres out to score in the corner and then, again from around 30 metres, crashed through the middle to score under the posts. The third try resulted from a pick up and dive over from the back of a 5 metre scrum. Although Chapel continued to threaten they missed all of the chances they created and Sarries increased their lead 5 minutes before half time when following another Mark Button break, Bren Hodkinson took his pass, cut back inside and fed Andy Blackburn who forced his way over. Tudor Croft converted and the score now stood at 26-7.

How things were to change. As they had threatened to do time and time again, Chapel's threes cut loose and either side of half time scored 3 converted tries to take a 26-28 lead.

Sarries though hit back after 65 minutes with the best try of the match. Paul Kavanagh scooped up a loose ball and his flick pass was collected and carried on by the three quarters. They inter-passed numerous times before Lee Garton went over to make it 31-28.

That proved to be the last time Sarries scored as Chapel hit them with 3 tries in 10 minutes. All created by their backs and with two converted they ran out 47-31 winners.

Mike York

Congleton - 24th April 2004
Bath Saracens 31 Congleton 19

A most entertaining and close fought match played in very warm conditions. The score line not really reflecting just how close it was.

Sarries took the lead after 10 minutes when Mike Williams (Man of the Match) went over for an unconverted try. A few minutes later Pete Oliver picked up from the back of a ruck and dived over for what he thought was a try. The line was however the 5 metre line. For this he was awarded "p***k of the match". Sarries then defended strongly for some time but conceded a try after 25 minutes. They responded with an excellent push over try on the half hour but 5 minutes later Congleton scored under the posts to make it 10-12.

Early in the second half the home team extended their lead to 10-19 but following a slick three quarter movement Andy Powell finished it off with a superb 40 metre run for a try which Tudor Croft converted on the 55 minute mark. Five minutes later with the score standing at 17-19 Mike Williams recovered well as the ball bounced loose at the back of a scrum and set the threes away for Mark Button to storm over from the half way line for a try under the posts. This was converted to give Sarries a 24-19 lead. Minutes later Tudor Croft collected a Congleton clearance on the half way line, ran it back, chipped ahead, re-gathered and went over for an opportunistic try in the corner which he also converted.

Sarries had to battle hard to hang on to their 31-19 lead and Congleton not only were unfortunate to have what appeared to be a perfectly good try disallowed but their threes also dropped the ball with no one left between them and the try line. With 5 minutes to go the referee called time when a Congleton player collided with one of his own team and required lengthy treatment by waiting ambulance staff before being taken to hospital with a suspect broken nose.

Mike York

Bradford on Avon 2nds - 10th April 2004
BATH SARACENS 29 BRADFORD ON AVON 2NDS 15

Two sides fielding a mixture of vets, youngsters and regulars played out an entertaining game at the Sulis club. Bath Saracens came away with a 29 - 15 victory in a game that provided 8 tries for the spectators.

Sarries went into a early lead when centre Gareth Hind broke several tackles and crossed the line. Shortly after the restart winger Andy Powell scored his first try of the game to give the Sarries a 10 - 0 lead. Just before the break Bradford scored their first try to close the gap to 10 - 5.

Immediately after the break Sarries went further in front with the best try of the game. From the kick-off the forwards secured the ball and drove forward through two phases of play. The ball was then moved through the entire set of backs for winger Powell to score his second try of the game - full back Tudor Croft added the conversion.

Bradford then hit back straight away as Sarries lost their concentration and were rewarded with their second unconverted try. By this time Sarries were down to 14 men, yet their 7 man pack dug in, gained the edge in the scrums and dominated the line-out.

Well into the last quarter flanker Robbie Lawrence found a gap in the Bradford defence and outpaced the cover to score near the posts, Croft adding his second conversion.

Again Bradford replied, this time through a close-range penalty move.

With referee John Beazer having called the last play of the game Sarries lock Steve Fielding made a break and a long pass found flanker Paul Blankley who ran in the final try of the game.


Oldfield OB's 3rds - 28th February 2004
OLDFIELD OB'S 3RDS 11 BATH SARACENS 5

The fixture was switched to Shaft Rd late on because of snow, and the freezing conditions certainly made their impact on the game - you only had to count the cases of cramp!

Andy Blackburn scored the only points in the first half - a try in the first 10 minutes from a quick penalty (sorry, Andy, I missed it!). There was then a long period of fierce competition, whilst both sides fought to find a weakness in the other. In spite of the poor conditions our ball handling was magnificent, although Oldfield seemed to just have the edge in the pack.

Oldfield then equalised the game with a swift penalty taken by their no.8 who crashed over in the corner from 5 metres out. This raised the motivation in both sides, but Oldfield came up trumps with 2 penalty kicks - one in the dying seconds of the game.

This was certainly an entertaining game from the touchline, which judging by the discussions afterwards in the bar was much enjoyed by both sides, with great displays of team spirit.

Hugh S

Trowbridge 2nds - 21st February 2004
TROWBRIDGE 2nds 27 BATH SARACENS 27

From being 24 - nil up at half time, we somehow ended up drawing 27 each. A game of two halves, obviously! Our try scorers were Pat Turton, Dominic Farris, Gareth Hind and Andy Monks, and Tudor Croft scored 2 conversions and a penalty.


Old Edwardians - 7th February 2004
BATH SARACENS 29 OLD EDWARDIANS 20

A good all round team performance backed up by some excellent place kicking from full back Tudor Croft in difficult conditions saw Saracens take the points from this local derby in Somerset division 2.

Playing up the slope and against the wind in the first half Sarries took the lead with a try from flanker Chris Carmichael who finished off a good break from centre Gareth Hind, Croft added the conversion. Soon after, fly half Dominic Farris found a gap in the Edwardians defence and crossed to give Sarries a 12 - 0 lead.

With the elements behind them Edwardians began to put pressure on the Sarries defence and using their larger pack to good advantage came right back into the game with two tries.The first came from a well worked penalty move and the second from a five yard scrum. Shortly before half time a third try from Edwardians saw them turn round with a 15 - 12 lead.

Playing with the elements in the second half Sarries were confident that they could regain the lead, however early on Edwardians went further in front with a try which followed some good support play between their forwards and backs.

With Edwardians leading 20 -12 Sarries urgently needed points. They soon came when right wing Andy Powell intercepted an Edwardians move and raced over between the posts, Croft added the extras. With only one point separating the teams Sarries hooker Robbie Lawrence pounced on a loose ball from an Edwardians line out. From the resulting ruck the balls was moved quickly wide and good handling in the backs saw Gareth Hind score in the far corner. Croft added the extras with a difficult kick from the touch line. He then added a penalty to put Sarries further in front. With time running out Edwardians desperately tried to claw back the difference but the Sarries defence which had been excellent throughout the match held out.

Sarries will be looking for a similar performance when they travel to top of the league Blagdon next Saturday.

Rob Lawrence

Stotherts 2nds - 17th January 2004
BATH SARACENS 22 STOTHERTS 2NDS 41

This was a good display by Saracens against a strong Stotherts 2nds.
Our try scorers were Andy Blackburn, Andy Powell and captain Lee Garton, and Tudor Croft scored a penalty and 2 conversions.

Rob Lawrence

Somerton 1sts - 10th January 2004
BATH SARACENS 36 SOMERTON 7

Click here to see some photos.

Bath Saracens started the new year with an easy win in their Somerset division 2 fixture at the Sulis club.
Playing up the slope and into the breeze in the first half they enjoyed plenty of possession but at half time they only led 7-0.
Winger Andy Powell finished off a good move involving forwards and backs, fly half Tudor Croft adding the conversion.
The second half was a different story. Sarries dominated from the start with their forwards far more mobile and aggressive than their opponents in the loose. Continuous pressure in the Somerton half soon resulted in points. Centre Lee Garton and No.8 Andy Blackburn both crossed for tries with Croft adding a conversion.
Somerton gave themselves a glimmer of hope when they scored their only try of the game from a close range penalty move.
Sarries quickly responded with a penalty goal from Croft, and then further tries from Garton and flanker Chris Carmichael, both converted by Croft, completed the scoring.
Man off the match was young tight head prop Martin Ellis closely followed by fly half Dominic Farris and Centre 'Skippy' Salisbury who always looked dangerous when they linked up in the backs.

Rob Lawrence

Castle Cary 1sts - 13th December 2003
Castle Cary 20, Bath Saracens 7 (League match)

On a drab afternoon Sarries travelled to Cary optimistic of reproducing their winning formula from the previous weekend. The opening minutes were all Sarries’, where strong rucking and driving from the forwards gave a platform for Dom to dance through the Cary defence and set up a competent backs move ending with Tudor Croft crossing the line and converting. However, Cary regrouped immediately. The strong and wily Cary pack, lifted by vocal and knowledgeable supporters, ground out the game and starved Sarries of clean possession.

The score-line belies the closeness of this match, and much of the positive play produced by Sarries. Line-out and defensive work was possibly the best this season, demonstrating the benefit of recent training sessions dealing with these aspects of the game.”

Bren Hodkinson

Old Morganians 1sts - 6th December 2003
Bath Saracens notched up a 33 - 24 victory against Morganians in their Somerset league division 2 fixture, played at the Sulis club. Sarries started strongly and put the visitors under early pressure which resulted in a try for captain and centre Lee Garton. Morganians came straight back and after winning a free-kick 10 yards from the Sarries try line, their Prop crashed over for a try which was subsequently converted. Sarries forwards battled well against a larger pack and were able to provide plenty of good ball for their backs. Sarries re-gained the lead when flanker Mark Button finished off a move and scored under the posts, Tudor Croft added the conversion for a 12 - 7 lead. Once again Morganians fought back and evened the scores shortly before half time with an unconverted try.

Sarries had a great start to the second half. From the kick off their forwards secured the ball and fed fly half Dominic Farris. Farris ripped 50 metres through the Morganians defence and scored beneath the posts, Croft adding the conversion. Mark Button then scored his 2nd try of the game with Croft adding the extras for a 26 - 12 lead. With the game slipping away from them Morganians hit back strongly with their forwards choosing to hold on to the ball and drive forward at every opportunity. This resulted in 2 tries which reduced the Sarries lead to 2 points with minutes to go. Sarries however were not happy to sit back and defend their narrow lead. Pressure on the Morganians defence resulted in a penalty kick which narrowly missed from long range. Morganians restarted and desperately tried to take play back into the Sarries half. They subsequently lost possession in a ruck and Mark Button fed Dominic Farris who raced over for his 2nd try. Tudor Croft added the conversion with the last kick of the game.

Good news for Saracens was the return of Paul Kavanagh who came on as a second half replacement. Paul suffered a dreadful shoulder injury almost a year ago and his experience has been badly missed. Sarries look forward to having him fully fit for the second half of their season.

Rob Lawrence

Avonvale 1sts - 29th November 2003
Text from the Bath Chronicle 1st December 2003
"Avonvale proved too strong for Bath Saracens as they recorded a 61-5 Somerset 2 victory....

"Early in the second half Taylor went over to score his second and Avonvale's eighth try, which was converted by Vowels, but a lack of concentration in midfield left a gap for Lee Garton to intercept and run in a consolation try for Bath Saracens."

Stotherts 3rds - 15th November 2003
What a scoreline! 64-27 to Sarries. This was a great team performance - the forwards winning good ball, and the backs flying with it!

Memorably, Chris Baber scored 4 tries, Tudor Croft scored a hattrick, and Phil Cheese scored his very first try for the Club! (How many seasons is that Phil.....?)

Old Edwardians - 1st November 2003
Text from the Bath Chronicle 3rd November 2003
"Bath Old Edwardians put on a powerful display against spirited Bath Saracens and rattled up a 63-7 win on Saturday to cement their place at the top of Somerset 2.......

"Despite the scoreline, Saracens' heads never dropped and they worked hard in defence, with one huge crunching tackle which took out Old Eds prop Paul Jaggers epitomising their efforts."(well done, Dan Curtis.....I felt the earth move myself, and I was only on the touchline!)

(Our try was scored by Andy Monks - which it might be said was against the run of play, but was a deserved reward for a spirited performance. None of us on the touchline realised the Old E's scorecount was so high!)

Start of season - 2003/2004
Text from the Bath Chronicle Rugby supplement 8th September 2003. See the photo here.

Bath Saracens are looking for a new coach this season. The club was fortunate that former coach Ken Hole, who now lives in Wales, agreed to come across to take pre-season training but he cannot commit for the season. "So now we are looking for a new coach," said club fixtures secretary and first team flanker Rob Lawrence.

Centre Lee Garton has been re-appointed as captain to succeed Andy Blackburn after taking a break last season when he became a dad.

Gareth Hind, who will partner Garton in the centre, will remain vice-captain while back row forward Blackburn will lead the pack.

The club will also be looking to second row forwards Steve Fielding and Duncan Guthrie to maintain their progress after making a big impact.

Newcomers last season, Fielding just edged out his partner to win the club's Best Player of the Year award for the 2002/3 campaign. "We're hoping that both players can follow that up for the new season", added Lawrence.

Much is also expected of Australian Dan Curtis and Scott Batchelor, both of whom were new to the club last season.

But Saracens have lost the services of utility back and web master Ben Walmsley. He helped set up the club's first ever website - www.bathsaracens.co.uk - but has been lured to London with work commitments. "We are really disappointed to lose Ben because he did a lot of work off the pitch, especially with setting-up the club's website", added Lawrence. "Hopefully we will see him again in the future."

While Walmsley has departed the club's committee has been strengthened with prop Martin Ellis, scrum half Brendan Hodkinson and front row forwar Alex Lees all joining up for the extra duties.

Last season Saracens enjoyed a mid-table finish after a spirited end to the season and will be looking to repeat that again. "I don't think we are ready to go up into Somerset 1 quite just yet", said Lawrence.






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