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17th November 2010 SPORTING NEWS FROM ROSS-ON-WYE.....................
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RUGBY - ROSS 1ST XV 8, BRISTOL SARACENS 10

A last gasp touchline penalty from the Bristol scrum half was enough to deny Ross a deserved victory against a quality Saracens outfit at the match on Saturday.

It was the visitors who started the brightest, keeping ball in hand and asking questions of the Ross defence. Initially the defence held firm, however, after establishing territory deep in the Ross twenty two, Saracens moved the ball quickly left to score in the corner. The conversion was made and after 5 minutes, the Saracens were 7-0 ahead.

With three recent heavy defeats, things did not bode well for Ross. However, as a team they dug deep and through the intensity of their physicality they dragged themselves into the game. They were ferocious in the tackle and the rucks, which forced Saracens to kick away possession and the back three of Ali Rees, Sam Griffiths and Josh Morgan, took every opportunity to run the ball back at Saracens.

From one such attack, Ross should have opened their account. Josh Morgan ran back a loose kick, beating three defenders. From the ruck, Craig Powell fed Gareth Holdsworth, who put Centre, Casey Morgan into a gap. He outpaced the cover defence and looked certain to score, however his pass to Paul Hayward five yards out was knocked on by a Saracens player and the opportunity was lost. Ross kept battering the Saracens defence, refusing to take the kick at goal option when they had penalties. Instead, they went for the try. However, a combination of good defence and lack of composure saw Ross to half time still 7-0 down.

The second half mirrored the last quarter of the first half with Ross keeping ball in hand looking for that elusive try. They continued to dominate the rucks with Gavin Oates and Mike Davies proving a constant nuisance to the Saracens. With Dave Mince, Matt Jones and Matt Redman carrying the ball deep into the Saracens defence, Ross eventually got onto the score board. From yet another penalty, Ross decided to go for goal and Casey Morgan converted putting Ross 7-3 behind.

As the game entered the final quarter it was Ross on the offensive and with cracks in the Saracens defence appearing, Ross finally got that elusive try. After some strong running by prop Tara Barnett, Ross quickly moved the ball right. The ball came to Centre, Chay Brine who drew the cover defence before delivering a perfectly timed pass to player coach, Lee Cleaver who scored in the corner. The conversion was missed but Ross were now 8-7 ahead.

As the game entered the last few minutes, the Saracens won a penalty 35 yards out on the right touchline. The Saracens scrum half stepped up and the ball just cleared the upright breaking the hearts of the Ross players and supporters. The score put Saracens 10-8 up and they held out for the last two minutes.

The Audreys Fish Bar man of the match was Casey Morgan, who looked dangerous every time he had the ball.

Ross 1st XV will play away at Southmead next Saturday, whilst Ross 2nd XV have a home league match against a Hereford XV. Kick off is at 2.15pm.

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