Cheltenham crumble on there new rubber crumb
By joshua stratton
Formidable Team Performance
Stroud continued their winning ways with a comprehensive victory over their old rivals, Cheltenham. The game was played on a new, dazzling, artificial surface which players found to their liking although some had grazes as souvenirs writes Sean Moore.
Stroud started strongly and kept up the momentum for all of the match. Their strong team spirit was very evident in their support play and their tackling. Stroud clearly have ambitions and their style of play is very attractive. They play at a high tempo and keep the ball in hand.
Early pressure led to a penalty goal from Sam Hester, 0-3. The scrum was functioning well and they had many lineout options but the gusty wind led to several crooked throws.
The first try came when Phil Middlemiss picked up from the base of the scrum, went blind, and smooth passing saw Sam Hester release Jordan Phipps who ran well to go over in the corner, 0-8. Phipps again showed his wide range of skills and his covering was exemplary. Cheltenham fought back to score in the corner, 5-8.
Middlemiss also initiated the next score when he drove from the back of a very solid scrum and fed Dan Gordon who deceived the defence with a clever inside pass to Hester and he beat two men on his way to the posts. He also converted, 5-15. The very impressive Kurtis Herbert then made a long, surging break which resulted in Phipps scoring in the corner, 5-20.
The Stroud pack were now getting on top and were very quick to the breakdown and proved very mean in defence. Stroud’s tackling throughout was cast iron with centres Foote and Herbert often showing the way. Cheltenham narrowed the gap when their pack drove over the line just before half time, 10-20.
After the break Kurtis Herbert scored with a piercing thirty metre run through the Cheltenham defence. Hester converted, 10-27. Ben Stevens, who displayed a formidable all round game, was yellow carded for a technical offence and, from the resultant penalty, Cheltenham scored an opportunist try near the posts, 17-27.
Bob Reid then won clean lineout ball enabling Phipps to make a good line break. His pass gave Sam Leworthy a lot to do but he again showed his considerable strength and speed to score in the corner, 17-32. Phipps was also instrumental in the next try with his break and pass giving winger Pete Sykes a narrow corridor to work in, but he finished superbly, 17-37.
Cheltenham never gave up and a well-worked try brought the score up to 24-37 but their faint prospects were dashed by Stroud’s final, exhilarating try. The pack drove forward with Phil Fruin in the van and presented clean ball to the backs. Foote, Hester and Leworthy made good early ground before releasing Kurtis Herbert who cruised forty metres to score under the posts. Hester converted, 24-44.
This was Stroud’s best all round team display for some time and the players faces at the end showed how much they had enjoyed themselves. They will go into next Saturday’s testing home game against Chew in a confident but grounded mode. More of the same please!