Nomads out scored by Matson
By joshua stratton
Much improved performance from the Nomads
Despite the recent weather, the Fromehall Park pitch was in remarkably good condition as Matson were the visitors on a cold but otherwise great afternoon for rugby.
Nomads were able to field a squad of 17 players however only 5 of these were regular backs and made it necessary for players to play out of position.
The game started with a number of breathless passages of play with the ball not going dead for the first 7 minutes of play thanks to both sides wanting to keep ball in hand but also a number of turnovers. It was clear from the start that Matson’s strength was going to be in the pace and elusive running of their outside backs. Matson were keen to spread the ball wide immediately but excellent covering from wingers Harvey Mead and Tom Flanagan (both playing out of position) stopped any great gains in territory. Nomads in contrast began with a tighter approach with strong forward carries from Adam Clark and Mark Samak leading the way. When the ball did go wider centres Jamie Leworthy and Cory Baker ran strongly and ball was regularly recycled and Nomads built through the phases but unfortunately were unable to breech a strong Matson defensive line. Jamie Leworthy unfortunately had to leave the field after 15 minutes with a leg injury, which meant even more disruption for the backline with Jack Keightley coming on the wing and Flanagan moving into the centres.
The set piece from the Nomads was much improved with the lineout functioning well with ball secured by Clark and Ryan Kibble from accurate throwing from Lee Marshall. The Nomads had early dominance in the scrummage, regularly putting the Matson pack under pressure. This ascendency however was not able to be hammered home as scrums had to become uncontested after an ankle injury forced Damien Cox from the field. After a scoreless first 20 minutes, Matson were first on the scoreboard as a clearance kick return was quickly shipped from right to left to allow their winger to outstrip the covering defence to score.
Nomads response was immediate with Baker and Marshall putting on pressure from the kick-off and forcing a handling error. From the scrum, the ball was picked by Samak, who fed Scrum Half Joe Spurrell - A delayed pass from Spurrell found Kyro Thomas cutting an excellent line and his pace did the rest – a score in the corner instantly reducing the deficit. 5-7
Matson however continued to be dangerous out wide. After a series of forward drives, stifled by excellent defence led by Sam Davis and replacement Josh Merrett, Matson spread the ball wide and their centre cut an excellent line and his speed was more than enough to score under the posts. Their next score was almost a carbon copy. This time, from a scrum, their centre took an outside line and his speed and step was enough to break through.
Nomads continued with their positive work. A pass from Chris Toon, playing at Fly Half, appeared to have released Flanagan. A well timed covering tackle brought him to ground but Matson infringed at the ruck. An excellent kick to the corner from Baker allowed the forwards to set up a driving lineout with a Kibble take from Marshall’s throw. It looked as though the drive would carry them over the line but stout defence from Matson held Nomads at bay. A number of close range pick and goes continued the pressure until Charlie Foote powerfully drove over the line taking three defenders with him.
Half Time Stroud Nomads 10 Matson 2ndXV 21
The second half started with Matson again stretching play wide and taking advantage of Fromehall’s wide open spaces –dragging play from one wing to the other. This expansive style of play yielded 2 more tries in the first 15 minutes of the half, extending their lead to 10-33.
Nomads despite these setbacks remained positive and with the lineout continuing to function well showed positivity in their play. A series of phases with forward drives from Foote and Samak took play towards the Matson 22. Quick ball from the scrummage allowed Samak to pick and once again feed Spurrell , who this time found Flanagan hitting the hard line to crash over near the posts for Spurrell to convert. 17-33
Nomads continued to press with Clark and Merrett carrying well and Baker avoiding quick press Matson defence with a number of cleverly placed chip kicks. A series of pick and goes from Foote, Marshall and Samak drove the Nomads forward until a well-timed switch of play found Nick Stringer going blind. Stringer found Keightley, who was forced out of play just short of the line.
Matson were always dangerous on the break and a turnover was converted into a score with their scrum half going blind to feed their winger to score in the corner. Despite the arrears, Nomads heads didn’t drop and the final moments saw the pressuring Matson once again. Quick ball from a ruck allowed Toon to feed Thomas, who beat his man before kicking ahead into the dead ball area and setting off in a foot race against the Matson winger. Appearing to get the touchdown, Nomads were however denied the score and an opportunity to add another score that would have given the score line a more appropriate look.
Full Time Stroud Nomads 17 Matson 2nd XV 38
This was a much improved performance from the Nomads. The line-out was a massive improvement on the previous week (credit to Lee Marshall on his first outing throwing in) and it would have been interesting to see how the game would have gone if Nomads had been able to keep up their dominance in the scrum. Plenty of positives should be taken from this, none more so than the excellent spirit and determination shown by all players for 80 minutes.
Next Fixture v Lydney 2nd XV (Away) Saturday 20th January KO 1415.