Nomads find cohesion to return to winning ways
By joshua stratton
After recent disappointments this was an excellent way for Nomads to return to winning ways. With forwards and backs playing with control and cohesion this performance shows what the Nomads are capable of. With players returning next week and hopefully
Nomads travelled to Longlevens again only able to field the bare 15 players. However, unlike the Smiths game, Nomads were able to put out a recognised backline, with Tom Hayward and Tom Taylor making their debuts on the wing and Jordan Phipps making a welcome return at FullBack.
Unfortunately, Longlevens were unable to field a front row so the scrummage went uncontested, negating a recent strength of the Nomads side. With the first kick off from Longlevens not going 10m, Nomads immediately had great field position and a scrum in the centre of the field allowed Mark Samak to pick and release Callum Gibbs, who found Phipps on the outside. Good support from Taylor took the play towards the opposition 22. Recycled ball enabled Joe Spurrell, at Fly Half, to spread the ball wide left and good hands from Cory Baker released Hayward on the left wing. Solid Longlevens defence halted the attack but Nomads had shown their intent and confidence to play an expansive game.
Although early forays into opposition territory were mainly in the wider areas, Samak, Chris Jones and Jamie Leworthy were also carrying well and making good ground. Spurrell was always varying play; at times forcing Longlevens back into the corners as well as looking for the half break himself. One such kick was well chased by Hayward, who looked as though he’d forced a turnover but Longlevens managed to scoop up the loose ball and set off on an attack from deep within their 22. The ball went through at least half a dozen pairs of hands before their second row forward was set free to gallop into the corner. A well worked team try for Longlevens after Nomads had dominated the first 15 minutes. 5-0
Nomads were soon back on the attack after an excellent kick chase from Lee Marshall and Sam Davies forced a knock on. The forwards returned to the short range pick and go option with Fred McCllenan and Josh Merrett both carrying well. The back row of Jones, Davies and Samak now had the ascendency at the breakdown and forced Longlevens into conceding a penalty. The kicked was missed however Nomads were soon back on the attack from the resultant 22 drop out. Further close range carries from the forwards, controlled by scrum half Gibbs were pressurising the Longlevens defence and another penalty was awarded. This time Spurrell was successful to open the scoring for the Nomads, 5-3.
Although the Nomads scrummage had been negated, the lineout was functioning well with Kibble winning his own ball from accurate Marshall throwing whilst also causing enough disruption to the opposition ball for Samak to scavenge the ball on a number of occasions. One Kibble take set the platform for a 30m drive up the field from which swift distribution from Gibbs and Spurrell found Baker. Breaking through the first tackle he was able to offload to Phipps, who accelerated past the last defender to score a great team try under the posts. Spurrell converted 5-10.
A secure take at the kick off from Marshall and strong carries from Merrett and Jones pushed play straight back into Longlevens territory. Gibbs found Samak, whose half break forced the defence on the back foot. The ball was recycled quickly and Leworthy was able to surge into the 22 from where Gibbs went blind and found Taylor cutting a powerful inside line that allowed him to burst through and score. 5-15
Nomads continued to be on the front foot and another excellent passage of play looked as though it had freed Hayward, who showed excellent pace before being dragged down by the Longlevens fullback. A rare turnover gave Longlevens the opportunity to once again counter attack from within the own half. A combination of Taylor and Phipps stopped the attack but Longlevens had now their first spell of concerted possession in the Nomads 22. Their big runners carried well but excellent defence led by Jones, Davies and Baker stopped any significant gains. Longlevens continued to come at the Nomads but a great double tackle from Merrett and Phipps allowed Marshall and Samak to win the breakdown and secure the ball for Gibbs to clear into touch to end the half.
Half Time Longlevens 2nd XV 5 Stroud Nomads 2ndXV 15
Nomads kicked off the second half but Longlevens ran the ball back powerfully and it was obvious that this game was far from won. Good first up tackling though subdued early opposition carries and pressure from Jones and Baker forced a turnover. The backs spread the ball wide again and good ground was made by Phipps before the forwards once again took over. Kibble looked as though he’d broken through before Merrett appeared to have crossed the line, only to be pulled back for a foot in touch. Nomads were not to be denied for long though. Another line out drive from a Kibble take provided the platform for forward drives from Jones and McClennan that sucked in more defenders. Damien Cox spotted a gap and drove through to crash over for the opening score of the half. Spurrell converted to extend the lead 5-22.
Longlevens unfortunately had to withdraw 2 players whose services were required by their 1st XV playing on the adjacent pitch. Nomads also had to withdraw a player in order to only have a one player advantage. Jones and Samak left the field however late replacement, Lee from Widden, entered the fray on the wing with Baker moving into the forwards.
Nomads continued to play a wide expansive game with Gibbs and Spurrell now looking to free the backs at every opportunity. Another great line from Taylor, now playing in the centre, drew in two defenders before an offload to Phipps again freed the full back. Once more his acceleration pulled him away from the defenders before he was able to run in from 60m under the posts. Spurrell converted. 5-29
Another Marshall take at the kick off followed by strong carries from Merrett and Baker set the base for the ball to go wider again. This time, Leworthy found Phipps, whose elusive running once again broke the line. Appearing to be free again, he made ground before unselfishly offloading to Hayward, who cruised over to score. 5-34
To their credit Longlevens did not lie down and immediately came back at the Nomads. Good carries from their Number 8 and their Full Back took play into the Nomads 22. A number of penalties were conceded by the Nomads and eventually the referee lost patience and sin binned Cox for transgressing at the breakdown. Longlevens continued with a series of short range drives and eventually powered over out wide, 10-34.
Unfortunately, Longlevens had to withdraw a third player and the referee had no choice to end an excellent game played in a good spirit.
Full Time Longlevens 2nd XV 10 Stroud Nomads 2ndXV 34
After recent disappointments this was an excellent way for Nomads to return to winning ways. With forwards and backs playing with control and cohesion this performance shows what the Nomads are capable of. With players returning next week and hopefully the squad size increasing the Nomads should look forward to the fixtures ahead.
Next Fixture (Home) v Newent 2nd XV Saturday 24th February 1430 (TO BE CONFIRMED)