Nomads secure Cup Final Place
By joshua stratton
Nomads were fully deserving of their win but at times made hard work of it
Nomads took the short journey up to Minch on the back of a tough defeat to Matson but buoyed by the return of a number of players including Tom Warner and Oscar Adamason. A warm spring afternoon greeted the players and a firm pitch would hopefully lend itself to entertaining running rugby.
1 Damien Cox 2 Lee Marshall 3 Tom Warner 4 Adam Clark 5 Ryan Kibble 6 Chris Jones 7 Cory Baker(c) 8 Joe Owen 9 Callum Gibbs 10 Jake Marsh 11 Ben Dodd 12 Jamie Leworthy 13 Luke Peer 14 Tom Taylor 15 Ben Wilkes 16 Connor Voyce 17 Oscar Adamson 18 Tom Munson.
Peer kicked off and although Minch secured possession and ran through a few phases early pressure from Baker and Marsh forced a knock on. The resultant scrummage was won but early signs showed that Minch would have the ascendancy in this area of the game. Keen to exploit the width Gibbs and Marsh freed Wilkes however the final pass to Taylor did not quite go to hand. Minch were able to clear but Dodd and Wilkes were keen to run the ball back and made excellent ground. The back row trio of Jones, Baker and Owen all had early carries before Gibbs and Marsh again freed Wilkes on the right. This time his pass to Taylor went to hand and the winger showed a combination of speed and power to break through two tacklers to run in and around close to the posts. Peer converted. 0-7.
Nomads were straight back on the attack with Clark securing the kickoff before Gibbs fed Warner for a trade mark bullocking charge up the middle. Minch’s defence close to the ruck was secure despite strong carries from Kibble, Jones and Owen. With defenders being sucked in Marsh varied the play with an astute kick in behind the defensive line. Excellent follow up work from Leworthy and Peer was rewarded when Peer grabbed the bouncing ball out of the air and showed great strength to drive over the line past two tacklers. 0-12.
15 minutes in and two tries up Nomads should have been in total control however indecision at the kickoff and a penalty conceded at the breakdown soon put them on the back foot. Minch kicked for the corner and a well executed catch and drive from the line-out opened the scoring in the left hand corner. Try Converted. 7-12
Nomads line –out was securing ball in the first half despite being under pressure. Athletic work from Owen deflected ball accurately to Gibbs, who rightly looked to spread play wider where Nomads appeared to have the ascendancy. Leworthy as ever was carrying well and was combining well with Marsh and Peer and almost forced an opening on the left only for the final pass just to fall behind Peer.
Minch were able to clear but another Owen take from Marshall’s throw set the backs off again with Wilkes coming into the line and causing problems to the defence with some tremendously evasive footwork. Quick ball from the ruck allowed Gibbs to feed first Marshall and then Owen to carry on the momentum into the 22. Minch were penalised at the breakdown and Peer slotted the penalty. 7-15.
Again Nomads soon put themselves under pressure firstly knocking on at the lineout and then being penalised at the scrum, which was now under severe pressure. Once again the inevitable kick to the corner followed by lineout catch and drive resulted in a score for Minch. 12-15.
With the game finely balance but with Minch holding the upper hand in the set pieces it was vital for Nomads to score next. Mich secured possession from the kick off but once again great tackling from Voyce and Baker stopped any great gains in ground. More stout defence from Clark and Jones enabled Warner to get his hands on the ball and force a turnover. A fine touch finder from Baker pushed Nomads into the 22, where once again Owen’s deflection found Gibbs. Marsh fed Leworthy to take the direct route before the forwards took over. Pick and goes from Marshall, Clark and Jones forced a penalty, which Marsh, alert as ever, took quickly and fed Owen. Taking advantage of the defence not retreating he continued to drive on before offloading to Baker to crash over for a timely score just before half time. Peer converted. 12-22.
Half Time Minchinhampton 1st XV 12 Stroud Nomads 2nd XV 22
The opening 10 minutes of the second half were scrappy with both sides struggling to build through the phases and develop any continuity. The Minch set-piece was still more secure than the Nomads but Nomads always looked to threaten out wide whenever ball was secured.
Another powerful carry from Warner made 10 yards before Baker and Jones carried on the momentum. As the ball was spread wider Marsh fed Peer, whose well timed-pass put Wilkes into open space. Again he showed great pace and a terrific step to round the full back and run in under the posts. Peer converted. 12-29.
That should have been the game but Minch’s set-piece gradually allowed them to work their way back into the game. Another catch and drive resulted in a Minch try that was converted before more indiscipline again pushed Nomads back and allowed Minch to build from their lineout. This time the drive was repelled but a break off continued the forward progress before a sharp interchange of passing close to the ruck coupled with some loose tackling allowed their back row forward to crash over. 24-29.
With 15 minutes to go, Minch certainly had the momentum. From the kickoff they looked to pin Nomads back but an excellent kick return from Adamson re- energized the Nomads carries from Voyce and Baker pushed play into the Minch half. A forceful carry from Taylor, who had moved into the centre continued the momentum and Nomads were finally stringing the phases together. Marsh, directing the forwards, set up further carries from Marshall and Warner before once again spreading the ball wide. Good hands from Peer and Taylor put Wilkes into space again and producing a carbon copy of his earlier score showed pace and confidence to once again glide in from35m. Peer again converted to give Nomads breathing space. 24-36.
The final 5 minutes were still played at a helter-skelter pace despite the temperature. Another Adamson kick return was followed by a kick ahead and a footrace against his opposite number. Great follow up work from Adamson put the Minch winger under huge pressure and Dodd looked as though he had secured possession only to be halted by the referee’s whistle - blown to show Taylor a yellow card for a dangerous clear out at the breakdown.
Minch pushed to the end but Nomads tackling again led by the back row of Voyce, Baker and Owen stood firm and eventually forced a turnover that fell to Wilkes appropriately to clear to touch and end the game.
Full Time Minchinhampton 1st XV 24Stroud Nomads 2nd XV 36
Nomads were fully deserving of their win but at times made hard work of it. Again ignited by the energy and confidence of Wilkes and Owen the colts players should receive a special mention in particular Voyce, who acted as a front row replacement as well as working hard in the back row. Nomads now look forward to facing Fairford in the final on Saturday May 4th at Cirencester but need to use the month ahead to solidify the set piece and give a platform for the team to play through the phases and allow the backline to exhibit the finishing ability they showed this afternoon.
Next Fixture: Berry Hill 2nd XV (Away) Saturday 6th April KO 1500