Apr 18, 2016
A League: Storm run ended in Bristol
Saracens Storm were edged out of an entertaining contest at Clifton RFC as they were beaten 31-27 by Bristol United in the final rounds of the A League Southern Conference.
Kevin Sorrell’s side scored four tries, with Aaron Morris and Nathan Earle showing their finishing prowess with two well-taken scores and back-row duo of Anthony Maka and Seb Nagle-Taylor powering over late in the game.
The Storm headed into the Monday evening fixture with a 100% record, having booked their place in the A League semi-final for the third time in the last four A League seasons.
Seasoned campaigners such as Rhys Gill and Tim Streather were both included for valuable game-time as they continue their rehabilitation from injury. Ben Spencer and Nils Mordt both started in the halves to direct a youthful Storm pack assembled for the rearranged fixture.
Exciting youngsters such as Matt Gallagher, Tom Whiteley and Nathan Earle all impressed in the backs, whilst young forwards such as Seb Nagle-Taylor and England U20 duo of Nick Isiekwe and Jack Nay also made an impression.
After Ben Spencer dragged an attempt at goal wide, it was Bristol United who would break the deadlock when full-back Dan Powell slotted an 11th minute penalty after the Storm scrum was penalised.
Ben Spencer quickly levelled things up when Bristol were penalised for offside after making a mess of their own scrum in front of their posts.
In the tit-for-tat scoring in what was a very scrappy first half, United hit back when openside Chris Brooker dotted the ball down after a powerful drive. Powell converted.
Things went bad for worse for the Storm, when United wing Dan Hudson finished off a fine move started by a break United scrumhalf Andy Uren. Full-back Powell converted from the touchline as Kevin Sorrell’s side trailed 17-3 after 25 minutes of play.
The Storm hit-back when Aaron Morris finished off a fine move in the corner after wings Nathan Earle and Segun Rotini combined to release the Storm full-back down the right wing. Morris did well to stay infield before grounding the ball for the try. Spencer couldn’t convert.
Before the break, United hit back with a penalty try as the hosts went into halftime with a 24-8 lead.
At the interval Kevin Sorrell made two changes, with England U20s back-rower Jack Nay coming on in the back row, and livewire scrum-half Tom Whiteley coming on for Segun Rotimi to take his place in the unaccustomed right wing position.
Both players played their part in the Storm’s next score, when flanker Nay did well to collect a loose ball from a Sarries lineou-out, then phases later, Whiteley popped up in midfield to break before sending over Nathan Earle in the left hand corner. Earle showed some fine strength and determination to score.
Spencer couldn’t convert the try, but the scrumhalf broke from his own half for the Storm’s next try-scoring opportunity. From the restart, the fleet-footed Storm scrumhalf combined with the supporting Aaron Morris whose pass to the onrushing Tim Streather just couldn’t go to hand as the returning centre galloped into the United 22.
The Storm went close again when tighthead Biyi Alo was held up after his gridiron-esq attempt to hurdle a ruck on the United try-line, as Sorrell’s side continued to plug away at their hosts.
The Storm’s prolificacy would be punished when Bristol centre Will Sharratt finished a move that started from a clever quick-tap by the ever threatening Bristol half-back, Andy Uren. Powell converted but the Storm wouldn’t give up,and scores from back row pair Anthony Maka and Seb Nagle-Taylor set the game up for a grandstand finish.
With minutes left on the clock, the Storm had a scrum metres form the Bristol United line. The ball was moved out to Matt Gallagher, who showed great footwork and impressive strength to manoeuvre his way out the tackle to make a half-break. He looked to offload, but the ball just couldn’t be collected by wing Nathan Earle, who did his best to grasp the desperate pass. Bristol regained possession and the chance was lost.
The Storm now face Northampton Wanderers in the semi-final of the A League later this month.
Final Score: Bristol United 31 Saracens Storm 27
Saracens Storm: 15 Aaron Morris; 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Matthew Gallagher, 12 Tim Streather, 11 Nathan Earle; 10 Nils Mordt (c), 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Rhys Gill, 2 Josh Taylor, 3 Biyi Alo; 4 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Kieran Low; 6 Kiefer Laxton, 7 Seb Nagle-Taylor, 8 Anthony Maka
Replacements: 16 Ben Wilkinson, 17 Ralph Adams-Hale, 18 Taylor Reed, 19 Josh Tyler, 20 Jack Nay, 21 Peter White, 22 Tom Whiteley, 23 Jack Longhurst
Tries: Aaron Morris, Nathan Earle, Anthony Maka, Seb Nagle-Taylor
Pens: Ben Spencer (1/2)
Cons: Spencer (2/4)
Images (Credit: Adedapo Segun)