Barnstaple Tour Ends on a High with Great Performances
Stroud U13’s win both games and win the Trophy tournament.
It was Day 2 of the festival and everyone reconvened at Barnstaple on a wet windy morning ready to see how the sleep deprived players would get on. I am sure their healthy diet of curry, cake and sugar loaded drinks would keep them moving. It had been noted that Anthony Joshua fresh from his late night victory over Klitschko was showing more energy than our players and might be drafted in as a replacement (sorry Finisher in Eddie Jones speak) – still smaller than some of the U13 kids we saw at the tournament!
Most people had given up on the bus service after Saturdays experience and opted to drive there – apart from Callum and Jenks who were able to walk to the pitch from their luxurious Barnstaple hotel. Luxurious meaning they had a remote control for their TV and a shower tray instead of a hosepipe attachment fitted to the kitchen sink that the rest of the Ilfracombe party were used to.
Semi Final: Stroud vs Chipstead
Match Reporter: Rick T
Forwards - Orgy, Lucas, Stoner, Mr T, Laurie, Harry
Backs - Hilly, Will, Dave, Arthur, Josh, Fin, Alex
Subs - Rest
Cold and wet, yes - but bruised and demoralised, no - it would take more than a tough couple of matches (and a ridiculously late night in the Hotel I think was last seen logged at https://destinationluxury.com/15-expensive-hotel-rooms-world/) on day one to knock the confidence from a team who have grown to ’near All Black legend-like' status…. we will see!
Stroud received the kick-off on a blustery, wet day that would surely test the handling of the Stroud crew - Alex received safely and set up a strong run by Josh down the left wing, cheered on by damp dads n moms…., but a strong tackle halted the pacey Josh’s progress… but quick recycled ball from Hilly, swiftly thru good hands (surpringlygoodhandsconsideringtheconditions) and Dave, stiffened by the breeze and the drawn in by the smell of the chip-van behind the posts straightened like a dart and touched down for TRY ONE TO STROUD!
Our opponents Chipstead of Surrey replied with a string of good attacks, halted by Braveheart-esque defence, with Dave first, and Hammo before Arthur (thou shalt not pass) prevented a likely try. Mr T stepped forward in a barracking run, the likes of which our absent friend Keyan would have been proud, swatting aside the offending/ defending minions, before… a pop-pass…. to the opponents! (Mr T - blue and white hoops please…..). In the breakdown in play, the first scrum was set. And a second scrum. Which unfortunately led to quick ball and a try for the opponents down the left flank - 1-1…….
From the restart, Josh and Arthur pressurised the ball, which broke left, before flying David Luiz on the wing made great progress with a mazy run, before great tackling halted his progress. Alex made a break, before a great long pass - just too high for the advancing Josh to collect - would’ve been a great breakaway try.
From the next set piece, a period of scrappy play and knock-ons made the crowd think hands were getting cold/ wet…. but they soon warmed as Stoner made a strong break, with Alex on his shoulder (metaphorically, only Phil Stone is strong enough to carry another player) for great hands through Alex to Arthur to Josh, but good scramble defence thwarted our efforts. But a quick break from Hilly - Will - Dave before it popped to Arthurmanonamission, flesh flailing from a wound never the likes have been seen since Jaws II, for a strong finish, making STROUD 2-1 LEADERS….
More good work from Lucas, Harry, Laurie, Orgy…. in fact all the starting pack, and reliable handling from the backs saw some good breaks, but after conceding a penalty in centre field, the opponents broke left and after some good passing outstripped our defence, they were in, the blighters - 2-2. All to play for….
Fin took the restart and broke the first couple of tackles before the forwards recycled quickly, and quick hands found Dave who stormed off - like Jenks on his way to his replacement Hotel (!) - and scored our third - STROUD LEAD 3-2…. I ran out of steam then, not many more notes…. so call it half time. Pen and damp note pad passed to Chris…..
Half Time: Stroud 15-10 Chipstead
Match Reporter: Chris H
Team; Dave, Joe, Lucas, Harry P, Will H, Alex, Arthur, Laurie, Fin, Darian, Archie C, Jedd, Tom O
With the rain starting to get heavier, the question on everyone’s lips was could the boys retain a 3-2 half time lead in what was already a close game? Having reset the kick off with a scrum, Archie flew the ball out to Will H who went on a quick burst up the middle passing on to Lucas. The ball was lost in contact as they advanced to us and Lucas put in a thundering tackle wrapping up man and ball. It was all to no avail though as Chipstead scored a quick try to equalise at 3-3.
Stroud kicked off and good tackling resulted in extra pressure being placed on them with the net result that they were being penned into their own half. Dave attempted an interception, but the ball went forward. More pressure was on them and we were now competing at the Ruck with Laurie ensuring quality ball leading to Jedd going forwards with the pass. We again kept them in their half and Archie C put on a burst of gas up the right, but was bundled into touch not far short of their line. They kicked back into our half only for Dave to take the ball straight back up to them and score on the right making it 4-3-game on!
With conditions and the tempo of the game zapping the boy’s energy levels, they came back at us from the kick off, a few slipped tackles and they sped the ball out to their backs resulting in a try, 4-4.
Callum came on for Lucas as we had another scrum on the halfway as a result of their kick off not going the distance. They won the scrum and again managed to elude the tackles and get another try making it 4-5. Oh dear it was starting to get serious.
Archie E entered the fray following a re-jig with Tom O getting the ball to Stoner who went on a rampaging run from the kick off feeding onto Fin, but he was tackled into touch. The Stroud defence and resolve was holding again with Arthur putting himself on the line, with Joe. They managed to creep back into our half and somehow get another try, 4-6.
Harry was also on now for Joe. Will H kicked up field with some excellent chasing but we were again held up close to their line. Pressure, pressure, pressure. Stoner emerged out of a maul and dived over the line for a well-deserved Stroud try making it 5-6. Could the boys keep in there and force another score? The ref was consulted and 18 seconds of remaining time was announced – could Stroud work miracles?
Chipstead received and kept the ball alive for a few phases. Time had expired and they went to kick the ball out of play but Alex kept it in bounds and charged right back up with fine support play with Fin feeding onto Dave and he was away up the right with the final score of the game and a brace of ‘two fingered salutes’ from Dave – we weren’t sure if they were Churchillian Victory salutes, Archers defiantly celebrating at Agincourt, or a delirious match reporter with an over imaginative memory. Score levelled at 6-6 at the final whistle.
A cracking, close, pressurised game with some real resolve and determination from the boys in Blue (and white). Whistle blown, we thought we had managed to get a draw-or so we thought! With more twists and turns than you could shake a stick at, someone had to be declared the winner to progress to the next stage. Given the rules of the tournament, the side that scores first with the Golden Try gets the win and it was us-the crowd erupted into euphoria! Was this to be the catalyst for more to come?
Full Time: Stroud 30-30 Chipstead – Stroud win on golden try
Now onto the final and a Battle of Gloucestershire GRFU – Stroud vs Bristol based St Brendans Old Boys U13’s team.
Final: Stroud vs St Brendans
Match Reporter: Russell
Forwards: Lucas, Orgy, Stoner, Mr T, Laurie, Darion
Backs: Hilly, Will, Dave, Arthur, Finn, Joe, Alex
Subs: Flash, Archie, Josh, Jedd, Nibbler, Edgar
Injured: Sauce, Callum, Arthurs Knees (again) – plus various parts of the bodies above!
The kids had warmed up in lethargic fashion. They had barely been able to walk across in the driving rain from gazebo base camp in the cloudy Himalayas to their favourite pitch next to the bridge. Could they get to the summit and win the trophy or would they be hit by an avalanche of tries from St Brendan’s that had been gifted an extra 1 hours rest? Even walking onto the pitch to the tunes of Star Wars from the Hereford Stormtroopers appreciation society didn’t seem to wake them up.
In irony of ironies the reporter wearing his Hoodie emblazoned with “Notepad” was unable to use his waterlogged notepad so relied on technology and his Dictaphone capability – much to the amusement of coaches Jo and Mark – their jokes nearly as good as Morecambe and Wise….
Stroud kicked off and St Brendans ran it back. Stroud quickly got a turnover and the ball came out to Dave who saw a gap and kicked long for the corner. St Brendans recovered it well but a great kick chase hemmed them in on their line and a great rucking performance from Laurie and Mr T won Stroud the ball that Stoner picked up and powered over in the right corner but was held up just short, leaving Dave to recover the ball and score for a 5-0 lead. 1st target achieved – the all important 1st golden try in case we drew again…..
Stroud kicked off again and St Brendans ran it back well left and right. Good tackling from Mr T and Lucas slowed them up but still St Brendans were determined to fight back. They ran left and right until they lost the ball in the tackle. Stroud led by Orgy secured the ball in the ruck and Hilly quickly got the ball out to the left and it zipped through the hands of the backs and Alex fed the final pass to a looping Dave who hit the afterburners and scored in the right corner for a 10-0 lead.
Another Stroud kickoff and St Brendans this time ran it back down the line but were just forced out of play. Stroud took the line-in pass and Darion blasted up the middle. St Brendans did well to slow Stroud up though and force a turnover but they soon knocked on that gave Stroud a scrum on half way. A typical forceful shove from the dominant Lucas, Orgy and Stoner up front gave Hilly about 5m breathing space to pick the perfect pass to Will. Again the backs moved left in unison with Arthur sprinting down the left flank looking certain to score. St Brendans did an excellent job to cover across and slow him up but that just meant that Joe took the perfect switch ball back inside and weaved his way past a few tacklers and scored a great try for a 15-0 lead. The parents, coaches and players were in dreamland. From kids that could hardly move 5 minutes ago they were playing a fast paced attacking game that left their opponents as breathless as the on-looking parents and coaches.
Stroud kicked off short so St Brendans took the scrum on half way that they duly won. They attacked both left and right but impressive press defense led by Will kept forcing them backwards until they were eventually forced out of bounds by Finn. Stroud took the line-in ball with Mr T who was eventually hauled down. Good support from the forwards won quick ball and Stroud attacked left but Arthurs was forced out of play – much to the relief of his right knee that didn’t have any more skin left on it to remove if he had been tackled to the ground!
St Brendans took the line-in ball and their number 10 misjudged his kick and it went sideways and a brave Finn jumped on it to secure Stroud possession. Laurie and Orgy were quick to the breakdown to secure the ball and Stoner then cleared out about 3 players to make sure. Alert Hilly saw the gap that Stoner had created and attacked down the blindside and scored the fourth try in the right corner for 20-0 lead.
Stroud kicked short and by about 3cm it was adjudged to be short so back for a scrum. St Brendans were still playing well and kept their attacking moves going. Sub replacements Josh and Edgar were soon into the fray with good tackles to nullify the threat.
St Brendans were not enjoying the powerful Stroud tackling so opted to be forced out of bounds instead. Stroud took the line-in ball and Dave took it down the right flank until he ran out of space. Edgar supporting well kept the move alive and make more ground. A few more alternating attacks by both teams resulted in St Brendans trying an ambitious pass through their backs that pick-pocket Will saw coming and was perfectly placed to intercept it and score a try under the posts for 25-0 Stroud lead.
Will kicked long this time and St Brendans opted for a quick kick back that Alex fielded and then passed onto Will who attacked left. A forward pass slowed the attack though and St Brendans were given the opportunity to attack back via a scrum. They just ended up going backwards though because strong pressure from Will, Josh and Arthur made them run backwards and sideways looking for gaps to attack – of which there were none due to the disciplined Stroud defensive line. A strong tackle by Laurie halted proceedings with a knock on.
Stroud won the scrum and more quick ball to the left gave Josh the chance and he attacked down the line and seemed certain to score but somehow he was held up on the line. St Brendans won the scrum and after a few phases kicked the ball that Darion ran back. Both teams were cancelling each other out and St Brendans were determined to keep attacking. A loose pass though was picked up by Arthur who was soon clobbered for his efforts. Lucas managed to keep the ball alive though but the game was haltered for Arthur to be patched up again by Delia and the dwindling contents of the First Aid bag. Delia ran out of gaffer tape so called in an air ambulance so he could be air transferred to Southmeads at Bristol for skin grafts. He was replaced by Archie Evans.
St Brendans won the scrum reset and kicked to the far right which their player recovered with a favourable bounce but a fast pursuing Alex was there to force him out of play. Stroud took the line-in pass and Mr T barrelled through again. Orgy won the clearout battle and Stroud attacked and Archie had the chance to show his skills with a good run. Hilly was first there to win the ruck so Stoner showed his scrum half skills with a silky pass out to Will who gave the perfect pass to Josh to attack with. He was soon brought to ground though and Stroud were penalised at the breakdown.
St Brendans took the penalty and kicked it into the clouds for a game of aerial hide-and-seek. Eventually it came down and Alex caught it cleanly, brushed off the snow, side stepped the kick chase and ran it back up the middle. He was tackled but set it back well. The ball came out to the right and Will threw a dummy pass to open up the space. Then he showed another sublime skill to kick it over the defender for Dave to pick up on the bounce and score in right corner for 30-0 lead.
St Brendans kicked off and Laurie did a good run back. The half petered out though with no more attacking opportunities. Stroud were leading the final 30-0 but could they secure the job in the 2nd half?
Half Time: Stroud 30 – 0 St Brendans
Subs were taken with Flash replacing Hilly, Jedd coming on and Finn replacing Alex at fullback. All the coaches asked for was ‘same again’. No more encouragement needed as the players were playing fantastic and everything was going to plan.
2nd half started with St Brendans kick off that Stroud knocked on. St Brendans won the scrum and attacked right and were close to scoring but were held up on the line. They won their scrum restart and again looked to have scored but Stoner forced them out by the right corner. Stroud took the line-in ball and Will did an excellent spiral kick to put the ball in the opponents 22. Under threat of another strong kick pursuit their fall back opted to kick the ball out of touch. Stroud took the line-in ball and Mr T made some good yardage then the ball came out to Edgar who had a good run but the ball was ripped from him in the tackle. St Brendans won the scrum and attacked down the left wing and poor tackling gave them a long distance try for a 30-5 score.
St Brendans kicked off and Archie ran it back well. The ball came out to Edgar who had a good run as well. The ball came back inside and went through a few phases. Next thing you know it comes out to Lucas who made some good yardage and did a great pass to Dave who swerved down the left wing, managed to evade about 14 tackles from the 13 players on the pitch – did the ref have a go at him – and touched down in the left corner for a 35-5 lead.
Stroud kicked long again and it was a repeat of the first try with some missed tackles and a long run back down left wing by St Brendans for a 35-10 scoreline.
St Brendans kicked off and Josh ran it back well. Another pass from Lucas to Dave and this time Dave kicked long for the try area. He out-ran the defenders and dived on the ball for a 40-10 score.
Will kicked off and St Brendans ran it back but Archie put in a good tackle. St Brendans kept the ball alive and attacked right but Edgar was strong in the tackle and the ball popped loose. Jedd picked it up and went on a punishing run. Eventually he was tackled by 10 of the Sherpa’s that were returning from the summit of Everest. Didn’t matter as Stroud attacked to the right but a high tackle on Dave by either a Yeti or 3 more Sherpa’s stopped play. Edgar left the pitch to applause from everyone and was replaced by Nibbler who had about 15 minutes of ankle ligament strength available to him before it would snap… Joe also replaced Finn at full back.
Laurie took the penalty run and on the 4th attempt was eventually tackled – after gaining about 40 yards. The ball came out left and Jedd attacked the line. He was stopped but quick ball from Flash gave Stoner his chance but he too was well defended. Flash passed to Will who attacked right and unselfishly passed out to Archie but scrambling defence managed to keep him out as well. St Brendans won the scrum restart and were brave enough to run it out from under their posts. They then kicked it which gave Josh chance to run it back. A few more Stroud attacking phases led by Jedd and Will were rewarded with a Dave run to the left and a pass to Nibbler who scored in the left corner for a 45-10 lead. His Dad was still happy but a try in the final was still not as news-worthy as the clothes hanger smile that we saw after Nibbler scored in the loss to Bath. In years from now it will be elaborated to not everyone can claim to score against a Premiership side…..
Stroud kicked off and Nibbler now on defensive duties did a good tackle. Darion was also in attendance to stop the next attack. St Brendans kept attacking though and went left and right. The ball was knocked loose and Nibbler dived on it. Stoner and Jedd won the ruck and Darion did a powerful run. Eventually after a few phases St Brendans won the ball and kicked long. Dave who was out of “gas, gas, gas” was loitering at the back and recovered the ball and opted to kick it back but as he did he was poleaxed with a great tackle but he still managed to get his boot on the ball and relieve the pressure. Alex replaced Josh in the centre.
St Brendans didn’t do much with the ball and were forced out of play by Stoner. Darion took the line-in ball and made good ground. Ball came back to Jedd who also had a good run. It was all to no avail though as Stroud were penalised. St Brendans were still showing great resolve and kept attacking the Stroud line but more stout defence kept them out. Then Stroud got a turnover via Orgy and this gave Will and Nibbler chance to run the ball out to the left. St Brendans were penalised.
Arthur who had returned from Southmeads with artificial knee caps as a temporary measure was eager to try them out so took the penalty ball and pounded up the middle on his bionic limbs. Eventually the tin-man ran out of oil and the Wizard of Oz – sorry Dave – opted for plan B and kicked long again for the try line but St Brendans were alert to this threat and recovered the ball well and then kicked the ball out themselves. It was fielded by Lucas who was having a storming game in all aspects and he ran it back well but the ball came loose in the tackle to nullify a try scoring opportunity.
St Brendans won the scrum and ran it out well but Alex put in a good tackle to force the ball loose and a knock-on. Stroud won the scrum with another dominant push and Flash sniped down the right side and followed the Yellow Brick Road to get to Oz – sorry the try line - and scored as the full time whistle was blown.
Full Time: Stroud 50 – 10 St Brendans
Note to self – shout loudly into your smartphone when doing running commentary otherwise you get drowned out by Jenks and his enthusiastic shouting – even missing 80% of his volume by Sunday afternoon. (Dave – I have electronic evidence that he has 3 favourite sayings and not the 1 you reminded him of in debrief).
The players congratulated each other and Stroud went to collect their Silverware but in Dursley 7’s “Cotswold Challenge No Cup” style were told that there was no Trophy to celebrate winning the Trophy tournament….. It didn’t matter as it was all about the team performance and not the results.
Team debrief was held for both the tournament and the season as a whole. Everyone was applauded for their effort and skills and setting new benchmarks as to how well we can play, but also how well we come together as a team on and off the pitch. Special mention was also made of the players that had not made the tour but were still a big part of the season’s success.
We all returned back to Stalag Holiday Camp and prepared to either escape home via the Tom, Dick and Harry tunnels, or to watch Gloucester capitulate against arch rivals Bath. At least Stroud U13’s put in a good 2nd half show on Saturday vs Bath so might get called up into the Gloucester squad to help win the European Challenge cup next weekend. Jonny May is coming to Stroud on Wednesday night to do some scouting…..
In the other tournaments the Group of Death winners Barnstaple won their Cup semi 20-5 and lost final 15-5 and Bath won Plate semi 50-0 and 35-5. With Stroud winning the Trophy final it shows how strong the “Group of Death” was and how well we had played to keep close against both Barnstaple and Bath on Saturday and score various tries against them. FYI – The overall winners East Grinstead only beat St Brendans 25-20 in Saturday group stages so shows what might have been…..
Thanks to all my match reporters: Mark O, Geoff H, Jonathan E, Pete T, Rick T and Chris H for stepping upto the plate – or not running away from me quick enough!
For those of you who played the game of guess Caroline’s hoody name of P.A.S.T.A. the best we got was:
- Please Ask Stroud To Attack
- Player Alex Strongly Tackles Alot
- Pass And Score Together As-a-team
- Pizza And Sausages Taste Amazing (I think that was a hint at next years post game snacks)
Presentation Day next weekend and then a few months off but reminders from the coaches to keep the fitness up over the summer and be ready for some pre-season training. Roll on next season and 15-a-side on bigger pitches with 2 Flankers joining the forwards, the return of Orgy and his laser accurate lineout throwing, and Will/Dave kicking battles for conversions.
As a reminder we are looking for a parent to help take over Jenks role with organising a bit of the team admin (not fixtures) with things like email reminders, registration day admin and sending forms for players RFU membership when needed.