Massive Defensive Effort Secures Victory
By joshua stratton
This was a morale boosting all-round team performance that should give Nomads a springboard for the last 5 weeks of the season. The commitment of all 17 players involved was outstanding everywhere on the pitch but especially in the defensive aspects of
Nomads were back in action for the first time in a month, hosting Crypts at Fromehall on a pitch that was in remarkably good condition given the recent spell of bad weather. Despite some injury and unavailability in the squad, Nomads were able to field a squad of 17 with a suitable balance of forwards and backs and with Craig Hill stepping up to the front row to prop, contested scrummage was possible.
Cory Baker kicked off and excellent pressure from Adam Clark and Jack Keightley forced a turnover that gave Nomads some early possession. Determined to gain control, the forwards set up a number of short range pick and goes with Lee Marshall and Hill leading the drives. The first 10 minutes were dominated by Nomads with ball being well secured by the forwards and Callum Gibbs varying the play from Scrum Half. Josh Merrett and Mark Samak were carrying strongly and made good ground on a number of occasions. Nomads were also willing to spread the ball wider and Baker and Jack Young in the centres exhibited forceful direct running, benefitting from Luke Peer’s distribution.
Despite the early possession Nomads were unable to breakdown a well organised and committed Crypts defence. Crypts also were varying their play with forward drives and wider work but the Nomads defence initially held firm. With Nick Stringer and Samak tackling well around the fringes and Peer, Baker and Young stopping any threat when the ball was spread wider, Nomads were able to negate Crypts attacking efforts.
Crypts continued to show invention and spread the ball wider allowing their left winger to break free and he looked destined to score only to by denied by a great last ditch tackle from Jordan Phipps, which forced him into touch. The lineout was not operating with maximum efficiency but Clark and Stringer were winning a share of possession and on this occasion an excellent take from Clark provide the base for a powerful forward drive allowing Gibbs to clear the danger.
Crypts set piece was extremely solid with their lineout being very secure and their scrummage powerful enough to put pressure on Nomads ball. One Crypts lineout set up a driving maul that took play towards the Nomads 22. With the Nomads defensive line pushing up quickly, the Crypts Fly Half put in an excellent cross kick that was skilfully collected by their right winger, who crossed in the corner to open the scoring. 0-5
Nomads however continued with their positive approach and great defensive work from Baker, Andre Sharp and Samak forced a penalty that Baker himself kicked to within 5m of the Crypts line. Unfortunately, the line out was lost allowing Crypts to clear. However Nomads were soon back on the attack with good hands from Young and Phipps allowing Sharp, on the wing, to put in a clever kick, which the Crypts full back had to hack into touch 5m out. With Stringer securing Marshall’s throw, Nomads continued the attack and once again came close to scoring with first Gibbs feeding Samak, who broke the defensive line and then Merrett again producing another powerful burst to take him within inches of the line. Despite this pressure, Nomads were unable to cross the Crypts line and went in at Half Time 5points down.
Stroud 2nd XV 0pts Old Cryptians 2nd XV 5pts
Kyro Thomas replaced Sharp on the wing at the start of the second half, which mirrored the first half in Nomads showing early dominance. A secure take at the kick off from Marshall set the platform for some close range drives from Damien Cox and Keightley before the ball was spread wider. Quick hands from Peer and Young freed Sam Strange on the right wing and allowed him to show his pace and make significant ground up the touchline. Solid recycling of the ball and further carries from Merrett, Keightley and Samak took play towards the Crypts 22. The ball was delivered to the backs but they were met with heavy resistance; Young was tackled but the referee deemed the tackler had tipped him beyond the horizontal and awarded a penalty. Before any further action could be taken, Young, with tremendous awareness was back on his feet and had taken a quick tap before showing both power and pace to surge beyond the retreating defensive cover and cross under the posts. Baker converted to give the Nomads the lead 7-5
Crypts were soon back on the attack and despite more solid defence led by Baker and Young, Nomads transgressed at the ruck allowing the Crypts Fly Half to slot the penalty kick. 7-8
Nomads though were not to be put on the back foot for long. Although Crypts secured the kick off, great pressure from Stringer on the Crypts Fly Half forced him to miss touch and allow Gibbs to feed Phipps, who set off at pace, beating a number of on rushing Crypts defenders. Phipps continued leaving defenders in his wake before offloading to the supporting Stringer, who crashed over in the corner. Baker’s kick from out wide was immaculate and the Nomads lead was stretched. 14-8
Crypts continued to press and a rare handling error in the Nomads backs gave them a great attacking position. The ball initially went wide before a series of close range drives from Crypts took play within 5m of the line. Backs to the wall defence with Clark, Samak, Peer and Baker to the fore kept Crypts out and eventually forced a knock on. With the Crypts scrum exerting pressure on the Nomads pack, Samak did well to pick and offload to Baker to clear the lines. Rob Shipton entered the fray (replacing Samak) and was immediately involved stopping a Crypts drive with great work in conjunction with Merrett. Loose ball was picked up by Thomas on the left wing, who used his pace to cut in field and surge 50m up field towards the opposition 22. Unfortunately, the final pass went to ground allowing Crypts to clear. Fellow winger, Strange was next to show his pace collecting a clearance kick before cutting in field. Crypts were off their feet at the breakdown allowing Baker to calmly kick the penalty. 17-8.
With 10 minutes to go, Crypts kicked off and a secure take from Gibbs and excellent clearing kick appeared to have averted any imminent danger. The Crypts lineout however was now producing great ball and a catch and drive took play with metres of the Nomads line. Further short range pick and goes were initially kept out before the Crypts flanker picked and went blind to surge over in the corner. Another superb touchline conversion narrowed the gap to 2 points and set up a tense final few minutes. 17-15.
With Crypts back in possession from the kick off, Nomads defence was once again tested but again they were up to the task with centres Baker and Young providing an unbreakable barrier
out wide and Hill, Keightley and Clark subduing the forward surges. One tackle from Young allowed Baker to get straight on the ball and Crypts were penalised for holding on.
Baker kicked into the Crypts 22 and the Nomads were exactly where they wanted to be. Samak returned to the field, replacing Keightley and secured the ball from Clark’s lineout take. A strong driving maul took play within 5m of the line before the forwards attempted to run the clock down with short range drives. Merrett, Samak, Marshall and Hill made short yardage but crucially time was being taken out of the game. A loss of control awarded Crypts one last chance with a scrum underneath their posts and they ran the ball from behind their own line. A kick ahead however went into touch and the referee blew the final whistle.
Stroud Nomads 2nd XV 17pts Old Cryptians 2nd XV 15pts
Next Fixture: Saturday 31st March (Away) v Cirencester 2nd XV Combination Plate SF 1430 Kickoff.