Vees edged out in tight encounter
Reigning champions Saracens snatch one-point victory at Cotlandswick
Verulamians 22 Saracens Amateurs 23
Verulamians welcomed Saracens Amateurs to Cotslandswick but failed to come away with a home win after a close and hard fought one point defeat.
The game began with great intensity and the opening 15 minutes were characterised by fierce competition at the breakdown. With the score at 3-3 the game seemed to be settling in to a good rhythm until Vees fly half Crowne had a clearing kick charged down just meters from the line and the chasing Sarries player touched down for the opening try of the game.
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Encouraged by strong home support the Vees responded well from the re start with No.8 Coyle putting the Sarries catchers under immense pressure and forcing a knock on. From the resulting scrum the home side started to exert their dominance at the scrum with loosehead Trojans causing chaos up front. With good front foot ball the Vees put together several phases of dynamic play with the forwards breaking the Sarries line before the ball was finally released to the backs who unlocked the defence to send wing Paton scampering over in the corner to bring the scores level at eight apiece. The visiting side showed their class as reigning champions when just before the half time whistle they recycled the ball at great speed to create space out wide to release their back three who exchanged several passes before dotting down in the corner. This gave Saracens a 13-8 lead at half time.
The second period began with the Vees conceding a series of penalties that forced them back into their own 22 for the opening 10 minutes of the half. Sarries kicked to the corner and applied the pressure with a catch and drive eight meters out, but the Vees pack fronted up with some strong defence to disrupt the maul. Vees finally relieved the pressure after a great scrum against the head from hooker Buss and his two props. This domination up front would prove to have a significant impact on the game. Saracens extended their lead to eight points when they struck a penalty from range to take the score to 16–8. Once again the Vees found themselves under pressure when they relinquished possession on half way allowing Sarries to work their way into the home side’s 22. From a scrum the visiting team scored a try from a well worked back row move to extend their lead further, with their kicker claiming the two point bonus.
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The Vees now had their work cut out with a 15 point deficit to make up. Tempers flared between the two hookers resulting in a yellow card for both teams’ front row forwards.
The game continued with Crowne and full back Ricci making good yards with the boot allowing the Vees to force a scrum on Saracens five meter line. With the Buss returning to the front row the home side looked to make their superiority count. After several collapsed scrums the Saracens front row finally managed to take the hit and the Vees turned their dominance into well-earned points to push over for the try taking the score to 23-15 after Crowne’s conversion. With 10 minutes remaining the home side looked to take advantage of the shift in momentum. After a series of penalties the Vees once again found themselves within five metres of the Saracens line. With the exhausted Sarries front row losing their feet the scrum was reset and this time No.8 Coyle picked up to take the score to within a point following the conversion. But this late charge had proved too little too late for the courageous home side as the conversion was met with the final whistle leaving the Vees one point short at 23-22.
Vees walked away with a losing bonus point and can take a lot of positives. This week Verulamians travel to the league’s newcomers HAC.
Vees: Trojans, Buss, Bloomfield, Wildey, Luxford, Morgan, Coyle, Moralee, Rees (c), Crowne, Paton, Wooley, Westhead, Waters, Ricci. Subs: Munien, Viner, Grey.