Mar 28, 2016
Storm leapfrog Quins A to top A-League Southern Conference
Saracens Storm battled back from a half-time deficit to defeat Harlequins A 28-21 in a hard-fought win at Allianz Park.
Try scorers on the night were Ben Spencer, Samuela Vunisa and Anthony Maka plus some immaculate kicking from scrum-half Spencer was enough to see off a spirited Quins A side.
The Storm now sit at the top of the Southern Conference with a 100% record with five wins from five games as Kevin Sorrell's outfit look to defend their A-League title.
Saracens Storm went into this encounter knowing that only 2 more games remain in this seasons A league campaign. Quins A came with a strong squad for this encounter as the likes of Wales International Adam Jones and Italian international Tito Tebaldi were present in the starting lineout. Regular Quins squad players such as Karl Dickson , Matt Hopper, Ross Chisholm and Ollie Linsay-Hague were some of the more notable starters.
Sarries had a strong forward pack pairing of Scottish International Kieran Low and American International Hayden Smith would complement some of the younger players within the matchday’s squad. Some first team regulars like Ben Ransom, Nils Mordt, Nick Tompkins and Ben Spencer would give experience to a young backline containing some exciting prospects. Former Bedford Blues stand-off Baden Kerr would steer the ship from 10.
The game itself started at a quick pace considering the mixed weather conditions prior to the match starting. Nick Tompkins was first on the ball from the kick off but the ball was lost. With that, Quins’ Henry Cheeseman got his hands on the ball and made an intelligent dash on the left wing. The ball was recycled to Tito Telbaldi who ushered a poor box kick. Sarries then managed to kick the ball to safety but the ball went out on the full.
From the lineout, Quins executed a good rolling maul. Sarries defence struggled with getting a handle of how to deal with it and Beau Robinson managed to break away from the maul in time to drive over in the corner for the away sides opening score. Tito Telbaldi kicked a difficult conversion attempt to make the score 7-0 after 5 minutes.
Following this, Sarries got back into the encounter through the work of their younger recruits. Matt Gallagher made a nice break to outgun some of the Quins defence but was held up. From the kick through, the ball was caught by Telbaldi but confusion over a call for the mark saw him being hit hard in the tackle. Gallagher again managed to get his hands on the ball but was unable to break the tackle. Ben Spencer box-kick saw Ben Ransom hook his foot onto the loose ball but his kick trickled out at the 5 metre mark.
From the Quins lineout, the ball was knocked on within Quins territory. Quins were fortunate to win the scrum but made sure they caused Quins problems by putting pressure on the scrum. The referee gave Sarries the penalty. Ben Spencer saw a gap and quick thing allowed him to tap the penalty that saw him cross the tryline. He converted his own try to level the score at 7-7.
From the kick-start, Beau Robinson was strong going into contact from Quins side. Karl Dickson was at the heart of all Quins attacks. He fed Telbaldi who passed to Matt Hooper. A penalty was given to Quins for Saracens tacklers not rolling away. While Telbaldi’s kick didn’t make touch, Hooper and Ollie Lindsay-Hague managed to tee up one another. On bringing Harry Sloan into the game, he was hit hard by Sarries Hayden Thomson-Stringer. Matt Gallagher kicked a huge clearance kick that made touch 60 metres out.
Quins managed to clear the ball from own 22. Ben Spencer managed to give the ball to Dave Porecki. Baden Kerr was attempting to pull strings at out half. He offloaded to Nick Tompkins, who passed to Gallagher who pulled off a nice grubber kick. From the lineout, Quins cleared the danger yet Nathan Earle caught the ball and sprinted. Having been held up, the tackler was cited for not rolling away. Spencer’s kick to touch saw Sarries gain a 5 metre lineout. While the rolling maul was attempted, Quins exerted pressure to push back, they were awarded a penalty for Sarries failure to keep the maul together.
The game went to and fro for various passages within the first half. Quins showed some dominance at scrum time but Quins backs failure to hold onto ball. This allowed Sarries to fight back in the scrum. Quins overturned it and it was the turn of Ollie Lindsay-Hague to show a quick step to outpace his marker. Dave Porecki managed to take him down. The ball was overturned and this allowed Kerr to make yardage with ball in hand. The ball was lost and Lindsay-Hague was alert first to the loose ball. He got his pass off to Cheeseman who made a dramatic 50 metre break before Biyi Alo intercepted the pass deep in Saracens 22. Quins managed to win the ball back before distributing out wide. Matt Hooper again threatening with ball in hand.
Sarries had their backs against the walls after the first quarter as Quins exerted maximum pressure but an injury to Quins out half Telbaldi meant that Sarries could compose themselves. Quins gained the 5 metre lineout. Piper’s throw was caught by Twomey but the referee called for switching and that allowed Baden Kerr to clear to halfway. Quins won back the ball from Sarries lineout but Dickson’s kick on the full meant that play was brought back to halfway
Dave Porecki exerted his control over the lineout by feeding Kieran Low. Quins fought back after a loose ball in midfield that saw Lindsay-Hague make a smart grubber kick. Ben Ransom was called into action and his clearance kick made it to just outside Quins 22. Nathan Earle caught the ball from Telbaldi’s clearance kick. He laid the ball off to the onrushing Gallagher. His kick through saw Linsay Hague panic and kick the ball dead for a 5 metre lineout.
Following the scrum, poor handling led to the ball going to and fro between two sides. Spencer teed up Tompkins for a nice step. Beau Robinson was there to put in a big hit. Spencer then teed up Vunisa who got his pass out to Ransom. A penalty was awarded to Saracens but play was stopped for a number of minutes for a concussion to Storm fly half Baden Kerr. He was stretchered off as a precaution. George Perkins came on to replace him at the half hour mark with Nils Mordt switching to 10.
From Telbaldi’s kick start, Lindsay-Hague caught the loose ball. That allowed Dickson to feed Telbaldi. Kieran Low managed to pick the ball off. Spencer then fed Mordt but the ball went out on the full. Play was called back to halfway. Sloan caught the ball in midfield and teed up James Chisholm. Archie White caught Hooper’s pass and saw a penalty being awarded for a high tackle. Telbaldi’s kick into Sarries 22 resulted in a lineout. From the lineout, Twomey managed to catch Piper’s pass. The rolling maul was used to full effect and Beau Robinson was there in the right place at the right time to score his side’s second try. Telbaldi was successful from the boot to make the score 10-14.
As Nils Mordt kicked started, Telbaldi caught the ball and booted it to touch to end the first half.
The second half started at a frantic pace as Sarries came out with greater intent. Sarries forwards looked to get their hands on the ball and an early lineout from Porecki fed Low who freed up the attacking threat of USA International Hayden Smith. The forwards continued with the grunt work but Quins looked to soak up a lot of the pressure.They managed to overturn the preceding scrum and on winning the penalty Telbaldi kicked deep into Sarries 22. From the following lineout, Quins made ground through the work of Dickson but a great tackle by Alo meant that Sarries overturned the ball and gained possession. Nick Tompkins then executed a clearance kick but the ball went out on the full while play returned to the previous position. Chisholm caught the next line out but Quins could not execute the maul to full effect. Dickson’s box-kick was caught by Mordt and some aerial tennis occurred before both Ransom and Cheeseman made entertaining breaks.
Quins managed to gain further ground with possession of the ball. Following the penalty, Piper and Chisholm sought to execute the same rolling maul manoeuvre but Sarries managed to bring down the rolling maul and Mordt was there to clear the danger, bringing play back to halfway.
Following a Quins lineout at halfway, Telbaldi’s high ball way caught by the onrushing Gallagher who was gobbled up by the tackler Matthews. Quins retained possession in midfield, Dickson box kicked from the back of the scrum but Gallagher caught the ball on the 5 metre mark. Quins counter rucked well and Ross Chisholm managed to catch the clearance kick. Dickson played the ball to the forwards. Harry Sloan took the ball at midfield released Hague before he was put into touch.
Both sides began to make changes on the 50 minute mark. Following the break in play, it was Storm that made use of the substitution as from the Quins player being off side through Anthony Maka’s charge, Sarries gained a 5 metre lineout through Spencer’s kick. Sarries pack barged over but it wasn’t until the referee consulted the linesman before he awarded the try. Vunisa was deemed the try scorer. Spencer converted the conversion to make the score 17-14.
Following the try it was all Sarries after that. From the kick-start, a scrum was awarded. After Spencer’s feed through and grubber kick, Telbaldi attempted to clear with a wild pass. Lindsay Hague managed to recover the pass to feed Dickson. Dickson attempted to go himself but needed the intervention of Ross Chisholm to clear. George Perkins managed to catch and sidestep, teeing up Mordt. Mordt was hit high and late in the tackle by Quins flanker Archie White. That left the referee no other option to award the yellow card and send White to the sin bin.
Spencer scored from the penalty awarded to make the score 20-14. Both sides began clearing the bench in order to give the subs some game time. Dickson made for Egerton on Quins side and he had an instant effect as he managed to tee up Sloan who brought back Hopper into the game.
Vunisa was substituted for O’ Neill in the back row. Following the scrum just outside Quins 22, Sarries pack pushed ahead with a head of steam to win the penalty. Following an infringement from Quins on their own 5 metre line, Quins out half Telbaldi managed to clear but play was brought back as Sarries were awarded a penalty for the infringement. Spencer slotted over the penalty to make the score 23-14.
Sarries made four substitutions with star man Spencer departing for Tom Whiteley coming in for the last 10 minutes. Another huge scrum from Sarries, Mordt kicked to touch as Gallagher departed with Aaron Morris coming in. From the Sarries lineout, Josh Taylor fed Hayden Smith.Low managed to take the ball on. Earle was teed up by Whiteley. Having been held up on Quins 5 metre line, they continued to pound the tryline. Anthony Maka managed to spot a gap and crossed the tryline in the process. Mordt missed the conversion.
From the kick-start, Ross Chisholm made a big charge. Replacement scrum half Sam Egerton teed up Harry Sloan. Hooper picked up the loose ball and Aaron Morris teed up Linsay Hague in the tackle. Chisholm again picked up the loose ball but Sarries were deemed to be offside and replacement front row Jack Culverhouse was sin binned for an offence. Being down to 14 men for the remainder of the game, Telbaldi kicked into the corner. From the lineout, Quins managed to get the rolling maul off the ground and it was replacement back rower Mat Luamanu who touched down have broken off from the maul. Telbaldi slotted over a good conversion to make the score 28-21. That was the last action of the half as the referee blew the whistle for full time.
Saracens Storm: 15 Matt Gallagher; 14 Ben Ransom 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Nils Mordt (c), 11 Nathan Earle; 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 2 Dave Porecki, 3 Biyi Alo; 4 Hayden Smith, 5 Kieran Low; 6 Jack Nay, 7 Anthony Maka, 8 Samu Vunisa.
Storm subs: 16 Josh Taylor, 17 Jack Culverhouse, 18 James Currie, 19 Kennett O'Neill, 20 Seb Nagle-Taylor, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Aaron Morris, 23 George Perkins.