Lloyd's power gives Saracens the edge over rivals St Mary's
POWERFUL prop Jamie Lloyd marked his return to Bristol Saracens with a try in what could prove to be a crucial 24-17 victory at St Mary's in Gloucester Premier.
Lloyd, a former club captain who spent a season with Avonmouth, was unable to commit to the travelling demands of national league rugby because of his young family.
And he also celebrated his comeback by having a big hand in the scrum that earned turnover ball and then a penalty try as Sarries secured vital breathing space in the bottom third of the table.
Lock Ed Houghton and centre James Redman also touched down with Mike Storey slotting two conversions.
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At the top, it was a case of what might have been for Southmead who slipped 20-19 at home to promotion rivals Drybrook.
The Forest of Dean side shot out of the blocks with two tries in the first five minutes, establishing a 12-point lead. And although Rob Haddow kept The Mead in touch with four penalties and the conversion of winger Craig Adams' try, other chances went begging in this close encounter.
In Gloucester One, Kingswood held on for a 12-11 home victory over Bishopston who saw a touchline conversion go wide with the final kick of the match.
Flanker Andy Millen's try gave Bish late hope after two earlier penalties from Jon Martin.
Fly-half Ashley Honeywell converted his own touchdown for the home side whose second score was packed with emotion.
The day began with a minute's silence in memory of Frank Voisey, a loyal supporter and sponsor of Kingswood. And son Lewis held on to a Paul Allen miss pass for what proved to be the decisive points.
Former Bristol winger Dave John's hat-trick, plus a Tom Thomas effort, helped Ashley Down to a 20-13 triumph at Cheltenham Civil Service in Gloucester Two.
And the Kelly brothers – centre Martin and lock Shaun – took the plaudits for St Brendan's, 21-12 victors at Ross.
Full-back Ben Johnson (2) and centre Rhys Hughes crossed early on for Saints with Anthony Kolanko slotting all three conversions.
North Bristol, meanwhile, warmed up for Saturday's big home clash against Western Counties North promotion rivals Barton Hill with a first ever league victory at Chosen Hill.
Hooker Richard Mortimer took plenty of plaudits with the decisive catch-and-drive try ten minutes from time – his tenth of the campaign.
But this 15-13 win was based on a magnificent team effort with North showing bucket loads of character in poor conditions.
Speedster Mike Lewis flew in for North's first try, Josh Davies converting and later adding a penalty as the visitors turned around 10-6 up.
Chosen Hill took the lead on the hour with a well-worked converted try out wide. But North dug in for a memorable win.
Barts, meanwhile, eased past Matson 36-19 at home after leading only 14-12 at the turnaround. No 8 Luke Harris, replacement flanker Sam Steer, John Rambo Parker and prop Adrian Hopkins crossed with the remaining points coming from the boot of Ollie Nowell.
Shane Hancock put in a terrific shift at lock for Barts while Jack Scott, back for the weekend from university, stood out on the wing in the second period.
Leaders Hornets were made to battle for a 22-16 triumph at Bristol Harlequins, two late tries from Sean Kent helping secure another important bonus point. Earlier, player-coach Alec Chase's 14th score of the season plus a Ross Cheeseborough effort, with James Leatherby on target with one conversion, subdued Quins whose try came from Brett Ford, Ross Hickery converting.