Another Stroud Narrow Victory
By joshua stratton
Stroud’s first visit to this well appointed Somerset club saw them come away with yet another close victory
Winscombe opened the scoring with an excellent try from their forceful centre, 7-0. Stroud fought back with a classy try by Sam Hester. The forwards won good ball at the breakdown and Hester received the ball near the touch. A combination of pace and deceptive running saw him complete an arcing forty-metre run to score near the posts. He converted his own try, 7-7. From the kick-off the impressive Phil Middlemiss took the ball and made very good ground up the middle of the field. Stroud were now finding their best form and played with good continuity. From a well-organized lineout Bob Reid took the ball and the forwards drove on. A penalty was awarded and, from the resultant lineout in the corner, James Bashford caught and fed out. Dan Gordon, at scrum half, seized the moment and dashed round the front of the lineout to score an opportunist try, 7-12. Winscombe regrouped and added a penalty, 10-12.
There followed another peach of a try from Gordon who replicated his previous effort to score in the corner following a lineout. Hester converted, 10-19. Pete Sykes made a forceful run down the wing but was tackled just short of the line. Stroud were not to be denied and their forwards secured good quality ball which went wide to Harry Foote who made a strong break down the middle. From the breakdown Hester received a pass, spotted a gap in the disorganized Winscombe defence, and crisply shot through to score near the posts, 10-24.
This score seemed comfortable at half-time but once again Stroud showed a lack of confidence in defending their lead. Winscombe used the slope and the wind well and applied pressure. The Stroud defence received a thorough examination. They conceded a try when the ball shot out of the back of the scrum and the Winscombe no.9 did well to touch down, 17-24. Stroud looked to have secured the game when fly-half Jake Marsh sliced through the defence but the try was disallowed for crossing. Winscombe inched closer with another penalty goal, 20-24. Stroud resorted to last week’s tactics: they kept the ball close and were able to stifle Winscombe’s ambitions. Again, the discipline at the breakdown was excellent and ensured that no possession was gifted or squandered.
Overall this was a very impressive team effort: the pack did well in all aspects and the team’s defence was nigh on faultless. Next week’s final game against high-flying Chew should be worth watching.