15- Man Effort Brings Long Awaited Win
By joshua stratton
A great second half performance from the Nomads
Nomads travelled to Gloucester to face Old Richians keen to get back in action after last week’s cancellation. Again a much changed squad took the field with Chris Huggins and Clint Davies making their first appearances for the side. A stiff breeze was blowing down the pitch but conditions were dry and Nomads had the rare luxury of a back line so things boded well for some open running rugby.
Stroud: 1 Charlie Foote 2 Chris Huggins 3 Craig Hill 4 Jack Keightley 5 Lee Marshall 6 Clint Davies 7 Mark Samak 8 Rob Shipton 9 Callum Gibbs 10 Jake Marsh 11 James Nash 12 Ian Bushall 13 Tu’i 14 Tom Flanagan 15 Ben Dodd.
Richians kicked off and with the ball swirling in the wind confusion in the Stroud side enabled Richians to collect and enjoy some early possession. Forward drives were repelled with solid tackling around the fringes from Davies and Samak. Discipline was a problem for the Nomads in these early phases as a number of penalties were awarded at the breakdown. One penalty gave Richians excellent field position from which they capitalised on good line-out possession and moved the ball wider, where they exploited a gap in the Nomads defence to open the scoring by the posts. Try converted 0-7.
Pressure from Marshall and Shipton at the kick-off gave Nomads there first real possession. Gibbs marshalled the forward pack and drives from Foote, Huggins and Keightley pushed play deeper into opposition territory. Keen to exploit the back line Gibbs and Marsh spread play and excellent hands from Bushall and Tu’i released Flanagan on the wing to make good ground. Good work at the breakdown allowed Gibbs to feed Marsh, who found Samak on a hard line. Breaking the first line of defence he was hauled down 5m out. Foote, Marshall and Shipton continued with short range pick and goes before Gibbs found Marsh, who stepped through two tacklers to score by the posts. Bushall converted to level the scores. 7-7.
The kick-off again caused problems for the Nomads and Richians once again collected a loose ball. Looking to spread the ball wider, Richians found the solid defensive wall of Bushall and Tu’i worthy opponents. One powerful tackle from Bushall appeared to have handed possession back to the Nomads however the Stroud scrummage was under pressure from the Richians pack. This ascendancy was consistently evident in the first half and on this occasion gained Richians another penalty. An accurate touch find set up a line-out catch and drive, which despite being initially repelled by excellent work from Davies and Shipton, the Richians forwards were able to surge over on the blind-side. An accurate touchline conversion extended the lead. 7-14.
The final 15 minutes of the half were dominated by Stroud with Dodd fielding clearing kicks well and making great yardage on their returns. One such return was unfortunate not to end in a score with a weaving run by Dodd and an interchange of passes with Marsh and Flanagan just failing with a Richians hand getting in the way of the final pass. Keightley was carrying well and breaking tackles close to the ruck while Huggins and Samak were making ground in the wider channels. Phases of pressure in the Richians 22 with close range drives from Foote, Marshall and Davies forced Richians into conceding a penalty. The resulting line-out however was lost allowing Richians to clear for Half Time.
Half Time Old Richians 2nd XV 14Stroud Nomads 2nd XV 7
Turning into the wind, would Stroud come to regret not turning possession into points? On the contrary, the challenge of playing into a strengthening breeze and the late momentum of the first half galvanised Stroud into a positive start. Pressure at the kick-off from Marshall and Davies allowed Samak to scavenge loose ball. Short range drives from Hill and Huggins provided go forward before Marsh found Bushall cutting a powerful line. He burst through the Richians defence, where excellent recycling allowed Gibbs to release Marsh, who found Tu’i on the outside. Stength and evasion were shown in a great surge up the right wing. Stoic Richians defence however dragged him down and they forced a turnover with Nomads support too slow to the breakdown. Using the breeze they looked to clear down field but a mis-placed clearance only found Flanagan, who collected and turned before showing excellent pace to out-strip the covering Richians defence to score in the corner. 12-14.
Richians were now continually looking to make ground through the boot with their forward drives being stopped regularly by excellent work from Davies, Samak and Shipton, who was always effecting the game with his abrasive commitment and Bushall and Tu’i equally as solid out wider. These clearance kicks were always fielded well by Dodd, who with his elusive runs regularly took the attack straight back to Richians. With one return he linked well with Davies, who continued the attack with a strong run. Efficient work at the breakdown allowed Gibbs to spread the play to Marsh, who once again found Samak in the wider channels. Sucking in a few more defenders, Marsh was able to release Flanagan to once again show his pace on the wing, beating the first man before finding a great off-load inside to Dodd, who raced in to score. Bushall converted. 19-14.
With Nomads now dominating possession, they were able to string some excellent phases of play together with Huggins and Keightley in particular making excellent ground. They were combining well in the line-out as well with Huggins finding Keightley and Marshall despite the breeze.
Another great kick return from Dodd set up a surging burst from Bushall. Gibbs and Marsh spread the play wide where Nash made an excellent pick up off his toes. Securing the ball, Gibbs fed Samak, who drove deeper into Richians territory. Another surging run from Keightley from a Marsh off-load broke the line, before Gibbs found Huggins to surge over from 20m under the posts. Bushall converted. 26-14.
Full Time Old Richians 2nd XV 14Stroud Nomads 2nd XV 26
A great second half performance from the Nomads with the team not only controlling possession and working through the phases but also showing excellent defensive commitment and denying Richians any scoring opportunity despite playing into the wind.
This was a fantastic effort from all players 1-15 which should give huge confidence to the Nomads and coupled with increasing player availability should stand them in good stead to the rest of the season.
Man of the Match : Jack Keightley for excellent work in the line-out and tremendous ball carrying throughout the whole game.
Next Fixture : v Longlevens 2nd XV (Home) Saturday 17th November 1430.