Another great team performance
Stroud bring some warmth to a very chilly afternoon on the Bristol Downs
Bristolians presented a significant challenge: they were strong at the set pieces and in the loose and had a set of big, fast backs who worked the ball well. Stroud’s tackling and defence were immense and tenacious. Out wide, Stroud again demonstrated that they had the power, skill and speed to score against the best of teams.
Stroud made some changes: the influential prop, Dan Smith was sidelined after injuring his thumb doing a spot of DIY.Charlie Foote stepped into the breach and added beef and power to the scrum. He, together with returning hooker, Matt Hunt and Josh Stratton were a formidable unit. Hunt was very lively in the loose and he opened the scoring when he ran around the lineout, straightened up and powered over the line with the help of two or three teammates. Kurtis Herbert converted, 0-7. Bristolians regrouped to score a good try in the corner, 5-7.
An injury to Steve Dunmore saw Rob Higgins come on and he made an immediate impact with an excellent catch and drive. Bristolians edged into the lead when they scored a try after prolonged pressure, 10-7. Dan Gordon spent time in the sin bin after a high tackle and Stroud were up against it at this stage. Skipper Harry Foote and Kurtis Herbert made good ground up the middle. Then excellent interpassing between Sam Hester and Matt Hunt saw Joe Hoyle receive the ball and he just made it to the line after a thirty-metre dash. Herbert missed the conversion, 10-12.
The second half saw Stroud have the benefit of the slope and they set up position in the Bristolians’ 22. Strong pressure in the scrum saw Stroud win good ball and Kurtis Herbert timed his run to perfection. He took the ball on the burst and went over under the posts, 10-19. The next try saw the impressive Phil Middlemiss make good distance up the middle. He passed to Pete Sykes who outstripped his winger and passed to the supporting Sam Hester who had an easy run to the line, 10-26.
Bristolians showed their mettle and set about reducing the deficit and got the score to 20-26 with minutes to go. Stroud showed their maturity and patience and went through the phases before Dan Gordon threw one of his outrageous long passes which was snaffled by Sam Hester who went over in the corner. The whistle went shortly afterwards, 20-31. The team’s fervent ‘oggi, oggi, oggi’ showed how much the victory meant to them.
The whole squad are to be applauded but special mention must go to the ageless Mark Phillips who, as usual, just got on with the job in a fashion familiar to those who have know him over the past 25 years or so.