A huge effort but Nomads suffer from lack of backs.
Despite the result, Nomads can take a huge number of positives from this performance
After two weeks of cancelled games, Nomads travelled to Smiths in a hastily arranged friendly. With only 15 players available and in conditions that were at best atrocious things were always going to be tough but with only 2 recognised backs the task was certainly made even tougher.
Nomads started with only 14 players with Tom Flanagan and Sam Davis in the centres and Nick Stringer and Harvey Mead on the wings also making the change to the backline.
Luke Peer started the game with a pin point kick off that was tapped back by Lee Marshall for Stringer to gather. Nomads began on the front foot with strong carries from Jack Keightley and Mark Samak. Smiths were however well organised in defence and competed well at the breakdown. Ball retention was good despite the conditions and Nomads focussed on their pick and drive game with Tommy Allen and Marshall leading the way. A strong Smiths tackle did lead to a turnover and Smiths immediately showed their intent by spreading the ball wide. A powerful break and offload by their centre freed their winger to sprint in and around under the posts for the first score. Try converted 0-7
Nomads had the ascendancy in the scrum with the front row of Gareth Culpin, Marshall and Allen providing the base for regular secure ball. Nomads were also able to drive Smiths of their own ball. From one of these scrums against the head Samak combined with Ryan Kibble to set another forward surge into Smiths territory. Adam Clark and Keightley continued the momentum with strong carries before Callum Gibbs spread the ball wider. Good hands from Peer and Flanagan fed Davis, who carried well. Working round the corner, Gibbs fed Allen, who managed a quick take and give pass to Samak. Tight on the touchline, he kicked ahead and an excellent kick chase from Stringer and Flanagan kept the Smiths full back deep within his own half. Smiths however were also showing solid ball retention in the mud and worked their way with forward drives towards half way before once again spreading the ball wide. Good hands from their backs allowed their winger another run in under the posts. Try Converted 0-14
Despite the deficit, Nomads remained positive as the set piece was working well. In addition to scrum dominance, the line out was providing secure ball - Clark and Kibble profiting from accurate throwing from Marshall. One take from Clark provided the set up for a tremendous drive, which drove Smiths 25m back up field.
After 25 minutes, Nomads were able to field a full 15 with Fred McCllenan entering the fray in the centre allowing Flanagan to drop back to full back. Flanagan was to have an instant impact, collecting a clearance kick and making a powerful break up the middle. Gibbs was able to release Samak, who broke the defensive line but was hauled down whilst offloading. The first half ended with some tight phases from both sides. Pick and drives from both sets of forwards were multiple but defences held firm with Craig Hill and Culpin leading the Nomads defensive effort.
Stroud Nomads 0 Smiths Rugby 2nd XV 14
It was vital for Nomads to get off to a quick start in the second half. A safe take from the kick-off by Marshall set the platform. Strong carries from Clark and Samak took the ball back up towards half way. Gibbs fed Peer, who varied the tactics and put in a long kick turning the Smiths defence. A great chase from Mead put the Smiths winger under pressure. Following up, Samak picked up the loose ball and drove to within 5m of the line. Excellent clear out work from Kibble and Stringer (now back in the forwards) gave Gibbs quick ball to release Peer. A clever show and go gave him space to cross the line. Unfortunately, the conversion hit the post but Nomads had their quick start to the second half. 5-14
Smiths remained committed to spreading the ball wide and from one wide passage of play a break from their pacey centre broke the line and despite a brave last ditch tackle from Flanagan he was able to offload to a supporting Smiths runner to cross under the posts. Try Converted 5-21.
Nomads determination however never wavered and a great take from Marshall, chasing Peer’s kick off, once again put them back on the front foot. Further carries from Clark and Kibble gained hard yards before the ball was spread wider to Davis. Secure recycling allowed Gibbs to feed Samak, working around the corner. Once again Samak managed to break the first line of defence before being tackled allowing Gibbs more front foot ball. Spotting the oncoming defence pushing up quickly, Gibbs threw an outrageous dummy to create the space for him to exploit. Some excellent hands in the worsening conditions released Peer to slide in by the posts. Peer converted his own try 12-21
The Nomads defence was holding firm against Smiths attacks. Good line speed forced a change of tactic from the Smiths Fly Half, who kicked long. Flanagan however was well positioned and set off on a powerful burst leaving a number of defenders in his wake. More excellent recycling allowed Gibbs to hit Samak on a short line to make more good ground. Nomads looked to be making real inroads and were only stopped by an untimely knock on as the ball was spread wider.
Smiths attacked wide from the resultant scrum and looked like scoring until another last ditch tackle from Flanagan and Keightley slowed the attack down. Smiths retained possession and Nomads were now camped on their own line. Strong defence around the fringes from Clark, Hill and Samak kept the line intact while McCllenan and Davis were up quickly as the ball went wider. Allen and Kibble combined well to turn the ball over under the Nomads posts. Carries from Clark and Samak made more ground before Peer cleared into touch to relieve the pressure.
Stroud Nomads 12 Smiths Rugby 2nd XV 21
Despite the result, Nomads can take a huge number of positives from this performance. The set piece was incredibly solid and the forwards worked with cohesion. Huge plaudits however should go to those forwards who played out in the backs and showed massive amounts of determination and resilience in playing out of position.
Next Fixture v Gloucester Old Boys (Away) Saturday 10th February KO 1430