UCS Old Boys stunned by late fightback in defeat to Saracens Amateurs

The new rugby season is now underway (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

The new rugby season is now underway (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo) - Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo

Herts/Middlesex One: Saracens Amateurs 31 UCS Old Boys 29

UCS Old Boys were stunned by a late fightback from Saracens Amateurs in a 31-29 defeat away from home in Herts/Middlesex One.

The first ten minutes of this epic encounter on a glorious sunny afternoon on Saracens’ home turf proved both frenetic and filled full of scoring.

A series of unnecessary penalty give-aways by Old Boys in the first four minutes were followed by a Saracens lineout win from a UCS throw-in.

From it, a home back touched down between the posts and converted.

Battle then began in earnest. In the seventh minute Hal Sparke on the wing, like an arrow from an English longbow, flew straight in for a try between the posts after a UCS-won scrum.

The sure boot of Nat Breakwell duly converted to make it 7-7.

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The pace was up-tempo, the temperature heated, while mauling and rucking were physically fierce.

In the 10th minute, UCS gave away an offside penalty which Saracens kicked to touch near the try line.

The home pack drove over to touch down in the corner from the ensuing lineout to make it 12-7.

By the 15th minute, Saracens had won their scrum put-in from an Old Boys’ knock-on and a centre broke the away defence to score between the posts, raising their lead to 19-7.

But then Sparke, barb-tipped arrow that he is, pierced the Saracens’ defensive armour once more to come round and plant the ball between the posts, with Breakwell’s successful conversion leaving the score at 19-14.

UCS mounted attack after attack at the start of the second half.

After ten minutes, a scything sprint and direction-change from Sparke penetrated the Sarries’ defence with flanker Sam Richardson in close support.

As Sparke entered into a contretemps with Sarries’ last-ditch cover defence, Richardson touched down near the posts.

The conversion kick was stroked over by Breakwell, putting the visitors 21-19 ahead.

Another driving foray into Sarries’ territory saw UCS win a penalty, within striking distance of a penalty goal.

This tricky kick was successfully put between the posts by Breakwell, who was in superb kicking form, to raise the lead to 24-19 after 70 minutes.

The Saracens appeared to be tiring somewhat, while UCS seemed to be melding ever-closer together as a team with the match entering its final stages.

Then Liam Clarke, having come on to replace Lennie Brown at number eight, delivered what onlookers thought should be the coup-de-grace.

A mauling, grinding, gruelling three-phase UCS pack attack in the far corner saw Clarke power through.

At 29-19, Old Boys and onlookers must have thought victory was assured, but the Saracens were not so sure.

With four minutes to go, they converted a winger’s overlap try, bringing the score to 29-26 and closely followed by a winger’s corner try, not converted.

These took Sarries into an upsetting two-point 31-29 lead.

Although this proved to be the final score, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of injury time, with both sides continuing the fray, though all appeared to be tired out

The game concluded with UCS in attack once more in the last play, but the ball being kicked into touch.

Dispirited, but never truly vanquished, Old Boys trooped off the field to the hard-earned plaudits of the crowd, including disappointed coach James Raftery.