Cracking Start to the Season
By joshua stratton
Stroud started their campaign in some style on a perfect playing surface in balmy weather.
Stroud started their campaign in some style on a perfect playing surface in balmy weather. The threes quickly established their attacking credentials enabling Stroud to establish a 22-7 score after twenty minutes writes Sean Moore.
Kurtis Herbert started the ball rolling with a penalty goal and then Jordan Phipps scored an electrifying solo try by breaking from the fringes on the half way and then combining speed with flair to go over near the posts. Herbert converted and was successful with five conversions in all. Sam Hester scored a try in the same vein shortly afterwards by slaloming in from some sixty metres to score under the posts. The onslaught continued when strong running by Herbert saw him score after excellent interpassing and support play with skipper Harry Foote.
The blitz was halted when Barton Hill scored a well-worked try benefitting from some casual Stroud defence. They then scored a penalty try after their forwards pushed the Stroud scrum back over the line. The Barton Hill pack was gradually becoming more dominant and won several scrums against the head and poached a number of lineouts. Stroud’s possession began to dry up and gathering kick offs proved problematic. Barton Hill began to assert themselves and scored a try when they exploited gaps down the blind side, 22-19.
Half-time was a relief for Stroud and they benefitted from some forceful advice from the coaching team. They started the second half with much more purpose but were penalized for pulling down a maul and a penalty try was awarded, 22-26. Jake Marsh then made a break that led to Sam Hester scoring near the posts, 27-26. The introduction of Tom Warner brought some stability to the scrum and Joe Hoyle and Dan Gordon added their stamp on the game very quickly.
Bob Reid had an excellent game in the back row but was yellow carded for pulling down the maul. During his absence Barton Hill made the most of their numerical advantage. When he restarted Reid made amends by scoring a sumptuous try near the posts after being released by Dan Gordon, 34-26. By now the Stroud pack were reasserting themselves with their close quarter driving and mauling, making the game go their way. They also seemed fitter than their opponents. Stroud next achieved a score when, following a good position on the halfway line, the ball was worked out to Sam Leworthy. He proved very difficult to bring down and Barton Hill needed the rugby equivalent of an elephant gun to stop him. But by this time he had scored, 39-26.
The next try was a beauty: solid tackling by Steve Dunmore and Ben Stevens secured clean ball near the halfway. Dan Gordon made the initial break and he passed inside to the ever-supporting Joe Hoyle. Hoyle passed to winger Oscar Adamson who had a clear run to the line. He did this in style and registered his first try for the club. He had a good all round game, showing great speed, alertness and good basic rugby skills, 46-26.
The final try however trumped all the others: Sam Hester fielded a long kick deep in his own half and counterattacked. He passed to Jordan Phipps who made quick ground up the middle. Phipps offloaded to Herbert who sped thirty metres to score under the bar, 53-26.
Overall, Stroud deserved great credit for their comeback when things seemed to be going awry. Their patience, discipline and ability to stick to the game plan paid off handsomely. If Stroud can gain regular possession they have the firepower in the backs to worry most teams. Next week Stroud travel to Cheltenham.