Another Step Forward
By joshua stratton
Excellent Open Rugby
Nomads continued their season with a late change of opposition with Spartans stepping in at late notice. Another fine afternoon and the open spaces of Fromehall promised an open expansive game and this certainly was the case. Spartans unfortunately were unable to raise a front row so the scrummage was uncontested but this only seemed to add to the speed of the game, in which both teams contributed fully towards.
Thanks must go to Andre Sharp for agreeing to referee at the last minute and facilitating an exciting open game of rugby from both sides.
Squad:, Lee Marshall, Sam Davies, Craig Hill, Jack Keightley, Adam Clark, Rob Higgins, Mark Phillips, Mark Samak, Callum Gibbs, Cory Baker, Jamie Leworthy, Joe Little, Tom Taylor, Tom Flanagan, Oscar Adamson, Josh Merrett, Chris Jones, Kyro Thomas.
Nomads kicked off and soon showed their intent to play the game with intensity from the start with solid defence from Baker and Little closing down the young, pacey Spartans backline. Competition at the breakdown was also a key early aspect with the back row trio of Higgins, Phillips and Samak to the fore, in forcing a number of early turnovers. With scrummages uncontested, the lineout gave the opportunity for Nomads to win attacking set piece ball. A secure take from Clark from one of many accurate Davies throws set the platform for a powerful drive. Gibbs and Baker were able to spread the ball wide for Flanagan to make the first of a number of elusive surges up the right wing, which required 3 tacklers to bring him down. Quickly, the half backs were able to change the direction of play and only a loose pass stopped Nomads opening the scoring. Spartans were able to clear but excellent disruption at the lineout from Higgins allowed Phillips to snap up loose ball. Strong carries from Marshall and Keightley sucked defenders in before the ball was spread wide for Flanagan to pick up off his toes and run in unopposed. Adamson converted 7-0.
Adamson, at Full Back was never far from the action and his elusive running gained a large amount of territory for the Nomads all afternoon. Taylor provided a more direct option, carrying powerfully and allowing quick ball to be secured. This speed of ball would prove crucial in Nomads next try, with Gibbs and Baker freeing Marshall and Davies in the wider channels before Flanagan again continued the attack. Despite being brought down, close range carries from Phillips and Samak enabled Baker to surge over the line. 12-0.
Unfortunately, Nomads lost Joe Little in the next phase of the game with a leg injury, Thomas replacing him out wide. With Merrett and Jones also entering the game and carrying strongly Nomads continued to pressurise Spartans but were unable to add to the score with a number of close range off loads not quite going to hand.
Half Time Stroud Nomads 12Spartans 2nd XV 0
Nomads had to start the 2nd half with only 14 men due to a yellow card for a high tackle from Merrett. Spartans made excellent use of some early possession with their backs always keen to run. An excellent break from their Fly Half coupled with some unusually lax tackling allowed him to cross close to the posts. 12-7.
This was not taken well by the Nomads, who immediately upped their game with the return of Merrett and also the first of a number of powerful surges by Leworthy, who was returning from a lengthy hand injury. As soon as Nomads were back on the front foot, confidence returned and Keightley made an excellent long break up the middle taking play deep into the opposition half. Another strong clear-out allowed Gibbs to again set the backline going and Flanagan again carried well up the wing. Recycled ball and excellent distribution from Higgins set Baker free to score. Baker converted 19-7.
Nomads were making significant inroads into Spartans defence with Keightley, Clark and Samak carrying the ball well in wider channels. Excellent link play from Davies and Phillips freed Higgins to continue the move towards the posts. From the breakdown Baker found Taylor cutting a powerful line, which enabled him to score taking two tacklers over the line with him in the process. 24-7.
Spartans to their credit continued to apply pressure and forced an error from the kick-off. A try seemed a certainty and was only denied by a great last ditch tackle from Flanagan however eventually it was to no avail as Spartans forward drives produced a score in the corner. 24-12.
With Nomads now dominating the lineout, possession was plentiful. Clark and Keightley were securing Nomads ball whilst Higgins was able to steal a number of opposition throws. With Phillips regularly forming the link between forwards and backs continuity was often maintained. A strong carry from Hill set the platform for another break from Leworthy carrying play towards the Spartans 22. Gibbs fed Baker, who found Samak cutting a line enabling him to break the defensive line and score under the posts. Baker converted 31-12.
Yet another secure take from Higgins at the Kickoff pushed Nomads straight back on the front foot. Keightley again continued the attack before Gibbs and Baker found Higgins, who made the most of the overlap to free Flanagan to race in at the corner for the final try of the afternoon.
FULL TIME Stroud Nomads 36Spartans 2nd XV 12
Man of Match: Jack Keightley, for his developing work in the lineout and consistently carrying strongly both close to the ruck and out wide.
This was another confidence boosting performance for the Nomads with attacking phases being consistently built and the forwards and backs continuing to develop understanding and combination. Defensively, Nomads looked secure and competed well at the breakdown forcing a number of turnovers.
We look forward to the first Reserve League game next Saturday against Berry Hill at Archway School Kick Off 3pm.