Gloucester Premier League
Chipping Sodbury 31
Cheltenham Saracens 7

CHIPPING Sodbury were keen to get back on to home ground and put last week’s reverse behind them.

They were also keen to impress a gathering of former players who had been assembled by President Ian Aldous.

The opening exchanges were marked by the bone-jarring tackling of Dom Pullen and a rejuvenated scrummage.

Sodbury were also taking no prisoners at the ruck, producing quick ball and handing out a torrid time to the visitors.

The first points came from the boot of Jon Cook, who posted a perfect five-out-of-five in the game.

Sodbury then swept into the Saracens’ half on the back of six rucks and, once the pressure started to tell, they infringed 20m out for Cook to kick the penalty. With a stiff breeze in their faces, Sodbury needed to play a tight passing game.

Pete Butcher was at his penetrating best with ball in hand, but it was Lee Ralph’s passes out of the tackle to keep moves flowing that really caught the eye.

Sodbury’s first try was a combination of power and cunning.

They opted for a five-metre scrum after Saracens gave away a penalty to halt a six-ruck surge.

The Sodbury eight gave their counterparts everything, but the scrum lurched left and a ruck was formed.

Scrum-half Tom Head showed cunning when he picked up the ball and darted left, only to cut back right before diving through a tiny gap to score.

Saracens were still struggling to break out of their half or do much with the ball they had.

Sodbury kept forcing turnovers on them, then giving the ball to runners like Luke Balentine-Smith, Butcher and Niall Kincaid.

Quick thinking was also key and Dan Bradley forced Saracens back 50 metres when he tapped a penalty just inside his own half.

There was to be no let-up as Sodbury’s big men dipped at a scrum as one and could not be stopped.

Niall Kincaid skilfully guided the ball over the line before flopping on it to score.

As the break approached, Saracens found themselves camped within ten metres of the hosts’ tryline.

Sodbury began the second period with more solid work from Steve Hopes, Butcher, and Tom Farthing.

However, the penalties started to pile up and Sodbury were required to work harder than needed to keep Saracens at bay.

Sodbury managed to stop a lineout drive in its tracks and force a scrum, Bradley cleared the ball to halfway.

Saracens won the resulting line-out but didn’t bargain on the strength of Ralph.

His huge strength ripped the ball free, Head put up a box kick and the chase was on.

Bradley ate up the ground to tackle the full-back beneath his own posts.

He managed to strip the ball and pop it up to the on-rushing Pullen, who gratefully accepted it to score while handing down a lesson on chasing kicks.

Saracens bagged a try after a spirited forward display.

They capitalised on penalties and unusual flopping in the Sodbury ranks close to the tryline.

On 30 minutes, Sodbury secured a bonus-point fourth try.

Field position was gained from the forwards and the waves of runners with support kept Saracens’ defence up tight.

Bradley spotted this and put a delicate chip over the top. Tom Farthing set off after it: unencumbered by the wet conditions of last week, his pace was evident,outstripping a turning defence.

He dived on the ball to score.

Sodbury were kept at it by the visitors for the remainder of the game, but solid defence by the Sods, which was augmented by the introduction of Ollie Laidlaw, Dave Turner and Gavin Edgar from the bench kept them at bay