Saracens great pre-season test

Sidmouth rugby players had their first match practice in preparation for the new season last Saturday, when a squad of 30 players travelled to Western Counties side Exeter Saracens, writes Terry O’Brien.

The squad was made up of a mixture of players from all three senior sides and a few Colts.

The match was divided into three sessions to give all players as much game time as possible and to try out various combinations.

The result is of minor importance in these situations, but Sidmouth scored 31 points to 19.

In the first session they had the benefit of a strong diagonal breeze but chose to keep the ball in hand as often as possible.

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The backline looked sharp and new player coach Jason Luff, playing in the centre, showed signs that he will be an asset on the field as well as off.

His break and slick offload created a try for Tom Seward, who also converted. Luff added a try himself when he followed up a kick to benefit from a kind bounce.

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Despite some notable absentees, the forwards acquitted themselves well. They were led well by number 8 Dan Trim.

Rhys Thomas was prominent throughout and prop Tom Irish, newly graduated from the Colts, showed that he is more than ready for senior rugby.

Wholesale changes were made for the second session with the inevitable effect on cohesion.

Saracens, with a smaller squad, benefited from that and the wind in their favour to level the scores with two tries scored by their backs.

For Sidmouth, Stuart Bickerstaff gave an all-action display in the back row and Jonny Hamill looked assured at scrum half. Barney Goss made a couple of promising breaks in the centre.

In the final session, Dan Retter showed that he has recovered from his shoulder injury with two well-taken tries. The first was from a scissors move with Hamill, and for the second he dummied his way over from a ruck near the line. He converted both.

The Saracens’ right winger capitalised on a Sidmouth mistake to sprint in under the posts for a converted try.

Then, in the closing minutes, Stuart Bickerstaff’s industry was rewarded when he found space on the blindside of a ruck to complete the scoring.

?Two more warm-up games are planned before the league competition gets under way on September 1.

On Tuesday, August 21, they travel to Honiton and on Saturday, August 25, Swindon will be bringing 1st and 2nd teams to the Blackmore.

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