Stroud Topple Leaders
Stroud put last week’s defeat behind them with a scintillating display of rugby
Stroud put last week’s defeat behind them with a scintillating display of rugby writes Sean Moore.
Early on, a well-organized forward drive saw Dan Gordon pass to Pete Sykes who drew his man before releasing Sam Hester to speed over in the corner. The conversion was missed but Kurtis Herbert shortly afterwards converted a penalty. Dan Gordon was back on form and had a masterful game combining a variety of passing skills with long relieving kicks when necessary.
The forwards were displaying great ball retention and organization and they soon set up a maul: they fed Joe Hoyle who scampered down the blindside before releasing Sykes who used his fast swerving pace to elude the defence and go over in the corner. Herbert converted with a magnificent kick from the touchline.
Midsomer reduced the lead with a penalty goal, 15-3. From the restart Reagan Herbert gained the ball and embarked on a sensational long run, bouncing defenders out of the way in a manner reminiscent of Billy Vunipola.
Such was the power of the Stroud pack that, when given a penalty in front of the posts, they opted for a scrum and they duly pushed the opposition over the line, allowing Phil Middlemiss to pick up and score. Herbert converted, 22-3.
Further pressure from driving runs by Dan Smith and Josh Stratton enabled Stroud to gain territory and this led to a penalty goal by Kurtis Herbert, 25-3.
Midsomer started the second period with renewed determination, their big forwards and creative back line testing the Stroud defence, but the tackling was first rate. Kurtis Herbert frequently took the ball at pace and, like his brother, made many strong runs, drawing the defence and creating space for others. Unforced errors were rare and this enabled Stroud to dominate for long periods. Sam Davis came on and proved to be a very doughty tackler.
Midsomer, however, began to show the form that has enabled them to dominate the table, and their big pack enabled them to cross for two converted tries, 25-17. In the dying moments they were camped in the Stroud 22, threatening to score; the crowd were on tenterhooks.
Stroud responded with a breathtaking try which will be a contender for try of the season. From a scrum in their own 22, a long pass from Gordon took out several defenders enabling Sam Leworthy, Hester and Herbert to create an overlap down the blindside. Top rate passing at full speed saw Stroud move into the opposition half. Leworthy was going at full tilt down the touch and, just before being taken out, he cleverly gave a lobbed pass to Hester inside. He was able to finish the 90-metre movement with a try under the posts flanked by two supporting players. Kurtis converted, 32-17.