Nomads overpowered at the set-piece.
By joshua stratton
Nomads returned to action after a week off, beginning their Reserve League season on a wet afternoon at Fromehall.
Nomads returned to action after a week off, beginning their Reserve League season on a wet afternoon at Fromehall. Berry Hill brought a squad bolstered by a number of 1st XV players due to a cancellation of their cup fixture. With heavy rain falling consistently all morning and throughout the game, it seemed obvious that this would be a forward orientated game and the 80 minutes did not hold any surprises in that regard.
Squad: Lee Marshall, Sam Davies, Damien Cox, Jack Keightley, Nick Stringer, Chris Jones, Grant Nash, Mark Samak, Callum Gibbs, Oscar Adamson, Fred Stephenson, Mark Phillips, Jamie Leworthy, Tom Taylor, Sam Strange, Fred McClellan, Josh Merrett, Craig Hill.
Berry Hill enjoyed some early possession from the kick-off and showed their intent with a series of close range drives. Nomads defence was secure around the fringes with Keightley, Jones and Samak all making good early tackles and stopping any great gains in ground. When spreading the ball wider their centres also met solid resistance from Phillips (playing out of position at centre) and Leworthy. With Davies and Phillips combining to force an early turnover signs looked promising however the first scrum of the game would set the tone for the afternoon. Berry Hill put a huge amount of pressure on the Stroud ball, resulting in Samak having to pick the ball at the base to secure possession. Nomads retained possession and were able to clear their lines through Adamson. The first line-out was also a marker for the afternoon’s play with Berry Hill securing the ball and setting up a powerful drive. Excellent work from Marshall, Stringer and Jones disrupted the drive but unfortunately Stringer was forced off the field with an ankle injury. Berry Hill continued with their tight game but the #10 was able to spot the Stroud defence narrowing and accurate hands allowed their winger to cross out wide. Try Converted. 0-7.
Merrett had entered the fray as a replacement for Stringer and was soon heavily involved in the defence around the fringes as Berry Hill again controlled possession. A deep kick from their #10 forced play back into the Nomads 22. Gibbs was able to clear to touch to relieve some of the pressure but the well drilled Berry Hill lineout again secured possession and their much heavier pack began to drive within 5m of the Nomads line. Despite stopping the initial surge, Berry Hill were able to recycle the ball for their sizeable second row forward to crash over. Try Converted. 0-14.
Nomads were struggling to gain any real quality possession with the scrummage under so much pressure. Samak was able to secure possession and scramble to ball to Gibbs but always seemingly on the back foot. Nomads first real attack came from a turnover forced by Samak and Phillips, which allowed Gibbs to free Adamson, who as ever was swift and elusive. His half break and kick ahead forced the Berry Hill Full Back to scramble back. A great chase from Adamson and Stephenson forced a knock on. Nomads just about secured the resulting scrum with Samak picking and going before feeding Phillips on a hard line. A good clear-out at the breakdown allowed Gibbs to feed Leworthy, who ran strongly and committed a number of defenders. The ball was switched back by Gibbs, who found Adamson. A step and clever off-load found Phillips, who surged over under the posts. Adamson converted. 7-14.
Marshall secured the kick-off, enabling a series of close range drives from Hill (replacement for Jones), Keightley and Cox. The ball was turned over and Berry Hill were quick to counter, with their #10 again spotting space in behind the Nomads defence. Scrambling back Taylor did well to secure the ball but could only take it into touch. Another powerful line-out catch and drive drove Berry Hill within metres. Good work from the Nomads forwards once again subdued the initial drive but the sheer weight of the opposition pack had sucked in so many defenders, there flanker was able to pick and go blind to score in the corner. 7-19.
With Berry Hill back in possession and controlling both aspects of the set-piece it looked like a long afternoon ahead for the Nomads but the determination shown could never be questioned. Berry Hill scored just before the half time whistle with another short range forward drive, despite the ball appearing to be lost forward in the previous phase. This was one of a number of decisions that did not appear to go the way of the Nomads. The try was converted.
Half Time Stroud Nomads 7Berry Hill 2nd XV 26
The second half saw Phillips return to his regular position at open-side, Jones re-enter the fray and McClellan replacing Cox in the front row. Despite surrendering possession from the kick-off, Nomads were strong in defence with Jones, Phillips and Samak tackling well around the fringes and Leworthy and Taylor combining to force a turnover. The scrummage was still under pressure but Samak was able to secure the ball with a little more ease and feed Leworthy, who carried straight up the middle and presented an excellent target for the forwards to clear. Keightley and Merrett continued the forward momentum before Adamson found Taylor, who was able to show his strong running style - taking two tacklers to haul him down. For the first time Nomads were showing some continuity in their play, going through a number of phases and make headway into the Berry Hill defence. A deft kick ahead and chase by Adamson, who was well supported by Strange forced a knock-on. Samak again had to pick from the base but was able to make ground before Merrett and McCllelan drove on. An infringement at the breakdown, gave Nomads a penalty, which the ever alert Adamson took quickly and scooted over before the defence could align. 12-26.
With the rain now hammering down both sides were making handling errors and the game became dis-jointed. Although the Nomads were able to scramble back their own ball in the scrum, the Berry Hill line-out held the upper hand with Nomads down to one jumper with the loss of Stringer. The opposition continued to use their catch and drive well and another powerful surge allowed the backs some freedom to spread the ball a little wider. Despite Strange stopping his opposite number out wide, there was enough support for their back row forward to crash over in the corner. Try Converted. 12-33.
Nomads battled to the end with Keightley, Hill and Jones carrying strongly. Strange found some space out wide and kicked ahead. A good chase pinned Berry Hill back but the final whistle sounded before any further pressure could be applied.
Full Time Stroud Nomads 12Berry Hill 2nd XV 33
Despite the result, Nomads should take the positives from this performance. The battling second half performance and committed attitude throughout against a much larger and more powerful forward pack should not be lost.
Next Fixture: Newent 2ndXV (Away) Saturday 29th September Kick-Off 3pm.