Rusty Stroud go experimental, but room for improvement
By russell vale
Stroud U14s get back into the groove with victory over improved Cirencester
Stroud had a long way to travel to their next away fixture of the season. A waterlogged Cirencester pitch meant Archway stepped into the void - which acted as a 2nd home for many of the players. Smaller than Fromehall it would be a challenge to play their normal expansive running game, especially as the coaches decided to go all experimental in the line-up and switch players around into new positions to practice for games where injuries could force new line-ups. It was especially cruel on Keyan who had just spent 3 months learning all the backs moves and calls, and then getting sent back to #8 and having to learn another set of new calls from the scrums.
Forwards: Liam, Orgy, Beirny, Jedd, Darrion, Sauce, Stoner, Keyan
Backs: Hilly, Ryan, Will, Alex, Josh, Finn, Dave
Subs: Callum, Euan, Haydn, Mr T, Laurie, Lucas, Flash
Stroud kicked off and Ciren immediately ran the ball back with enthusiasm. They were also looking to improvise from their normal game of forward dominated plays and kicked over the top but full back Dave took the ball back at pace to them - just like the crash balls he normally has to handle out of the scrum. He was well tackled by Ciren but Sauce won the clear-out. Beirny did a great probing pick and go but Ciren were alert to the threat and hauled him down, and then showed their prowess at the breakdown by stealing a turnover. Ciren attacked but a forceful tackle by Stoner knocked the ball forward in the tackle. Stroud won the scrum restart with Sauce, Darrion and Jedd pushing forcefully and quickly shipped the ball through all the backs for Josh to tip toe down the wing, at 30 mph, and score in the corner. Kick was missed but Stroud had taken a 5-0 lead.
Ciren kicked off and Josh ran the ball back but Ciren were alert to the threat of the pacy winger and forced him into touch. They won their lineout and launched a good attack down the left. Good hands and missed tackles allowed them to camp on the Stroud line where the forwards then took over. Somehow an attempted grounding of a try knocked the ball on and Fin alertly kicked the ball up the wing. Ciren fielded it well and ran it back up the middle but captain Will was leading by example and quick up for the tackle. An expert side-step by the Ciren back left Will grasping for any bit of material he could. Much to the embarrassment of the player it was his shorts that presented itself so Will used that to haul the player down. After seeing the Super blue moon earlier in the week we were now presented with the full moon instead......
Play continued and Stroud had a scrum from a knock-on. Ciren were very powerful in the forwards but Stroud did well to win the strike through Orgys ace hooking. The backs went left. Then at the ruck good clearing by Liam, Jedd and Sauce helped give Hilly more clean ball. He expertly threw it out to the right and Ryan quickly shipped it on. The ball got as far as Keyan and it was round his ankles - like the Cirens players shorts - but Keyan showed great technique to pick up the ball at pace and accelerate down the right flank and out-sprinted the covering tackler to score under the posts. Easy kick and a 12-0 lead.
Ciren kicked off and Stroud knocked on. Ciren won their scrum and attacked left. As the threat looked to be nullified their centre showed great technique to offload in the tackle and good support from the other centre gave him a clear run to the line where he scored. Good conversion closed the score to 12-7.
Ciren took the kick-off back at pace and again kicked to Dave. He sprinted up the right wing but a lack of support gave Ciren a turnover but it was short-lived as half of the Stroud team man-handled the player into touch. At this point the coaches re-organized the backs into their more normal alignment to see out the rest of the game.
Loose ball at the Stroud line-out was expertly recovered by Hilly who then sniped up the blindside. As the call of "No 9" echoed around the valleys Will improvised with a gruber kick that Dave chased down and won a penalty for the player holding on. A quick tap and go to the left got Stroud close to the line and a typical Liam barnstorming run threatened the line but Ciren did well to stop him. The ball was stolen and Ciren quickly kicked low, hard and long but Alex caught it cleanly and ran it back into the 22. Good rucking by Orgy, Sauce and Laurie secured the ball and quick hands to the right gave Fin the chance to score in the corner. Another difficult kick was missed - a combination of wind, uneven ground, and Hillys 10th finger flying off as Will smashed the ball just wide off the posts. A 9 fingered scrum half for rest of game - thats why they wear #9. The score was now 17-7 to Stroud.
Ciren kicked off and Mr T ran it back like a runaway truck. The police stinger device finally punctured his tyres and he fell to the ground. Ciren were ready to pounce but Stoner timed his clearout to perfection and knocked their flanker into Randwick! A few phases of play were exchanged without any team making much ground. Another Ciren kick was returned by Alex and similair to last time this set up an attacking move to the right and this time as Keyan was about to be tackled he timed his back-of-hand pass to perfection and Dave had an easy run to the line and gave Will an easy conversion kick for 24-7 lead. These shoulder running drills were working out nicely.
Ryan ran back the next long kick off but lack of support at the breakdown gave Ciren another turnover. They quickly advanced to the Stroud line and were rewarded for their hard work with another try from their powerful forwards. Good kick and the score was now getting closer as both teams took a break for half time.
Half Time: Cirencester 14-24 Stroud
A big re-organise of the forwards was held with the new look now consisting of Callum, Euan, Lucas, Mr T, Laurie, Sauce, Stoner and Keyan. Flash on at #9 while Hilly went searching for his missing finger.....
Ciren kicked off and Lucas ran it back powerfully. Will then charged up the middle drawing in the tacklers. Good support from Callum and Euan secured the ball and Flash launched an attack to the right. Ryan took the ball on well and passed to Dave at just the right time. Ciren looked to have forced him out of play but Dave kicked long and knowing his home pitch so well aimed for the big divot in the try area - the one he'd dug on Friday night.... The ball stopped dead and Dave pounced on it for another try. Another difficult kick just drifted wide but Stroud had stretched their lead to 29-14.
The next phase of the game was over before it started. Or was it that I couldn't read my notes?.. Anyway after a scrum (short kick-off?) Keyan attacked left from the base of the scrum and Dave took the perfect pass and scored in the corner. Missed kick made it 34-14.
Ciren kicked off and Will played them at their own game. He saw a gap and kicked it back over the kick chasers. The Ciren full back did well to recover the ball on his own try line, under pressure from five Stroud chasers. Due to a subsequent infringement Ciren had a scrum but Stroud dug deep to win it against the head. Keyan did another #8 move from base of scrum and powered over for another try. Good conversion and Stroud were now leading 41-14.
Ciren whacked the next kick-off too long and it gave Stroud a scrum on halfway. Good scrimmaging from Lucas and Callum gave Liam an easy hook. Flash expertly passed to Will and another typical Dave crash ball was adjudged to be slightly forward so instead of scoring under the posts play was called back for a Ciren scrum which they duly won. They attacked left and looked to have worked an opening for their winger but Alex put in a last ditch tackle to deny them a try. Stroud were penalised at the ruck and this gave the Ciren forward - emblazened with the name Moses across the shoulders - a 10 yard running start from the penalty to touch down for another try, almost untouched. Moses had pulled out another miracle and the Red Sea had parted giving an easy passage to the try line. Could Ciren escape from the hole they had dug themselves? A missed kick left the score at 41-19. Moses may be good at scoring tries but he couldn't kick a conversion from out wide.
Stroud kicked long and this forced the Ciren player to take the ball out of the try area. At the 22 drop-out Alex ran the ball back. In a repeat of a previous try this drew in the tacklers which then gave Keyan gaps to exploit and he passed to Dave who scored in the corner. Although Archway was a smaller pitch than Stroud normally used it still forced the players to score most of the tries in the corners which captain Will didn't appreciate as it made his conversions much harder in the swirling winds. Another kick missed with the score now 46-19.
Ciren kicked off and this time Keyan took the Red Sea route and ran through a big gap. A fantastic last ditch tackle stopped him from scoring and Ciren were awarded a scrum from his knock-on and their subsequent kick-away. The ref had blown his whistle so Alex's body contorting low catch....... well we'll never know as it never officially happened......so I never wrote it down....
Ciren won their scrum and kicked for touch. The Stroud lineout wasn't straight - this wind was affecting everyone - so Ciren took a scrum restart. They duly won this and kept the ball in close. Brave tackles from Beirny, Jedd and Euan slowed them down but Ciren showed great patience to drive towards the line. They were rewarded for their efforts with another pick and drive try. A good kick and the score was now 46-26.
Will kicked short. Everyone - players and parents - shouted to leave it - Ciren and Stroud in unison - everyone was in agreement. Even Chris' commanding voice was drowned out by the kids for a change! The brave Ciren player ignored the advice plucked the ball out of the air though but before he got taken out with some punishing tackles the ref kindly spared his blushes and called it back for a Ciren scrum. This was all part of the Ciren masterplan as they won the scrum and attacked left and showed great ball possesion skills to keep the ball alive as players like Euan, Haydn, Mr T and Laurie buzzed around making good tackles and attempted turnovers to try and stem the threat. Eventually Ciren forced the ball over the try line and another good kick closed the score upto 46-33.
Stroud kicked long and were penalised at the subsequent breakdown. Ciren kicked the penalty long and Keyan - now at Full back - knocked the ball on. 3 positions in 1 match was too much for him as he was working out the next set of backs calls and how he would contribute from the full back position.
Ciren won their scrum and improvised with a gruber kick. Ryan showed great technique to gather the ball up and ran it out of the danger area. The ball was kicked up high and Darrion did a great kick chase to put the Ciren player under immense pressure with a big tackle. Mr T secured turnover ball with a brave dive in amongst the boots. The ball came out to Dave and he kicked long for a gap. Ciren managed to recover the ball but Dave ripped it out of the tackle and Ryan saw his chance and went on a mazy run, a few good fake passes and drops of the shoulder gave him chance to do his own Moses impression and he walked over the try line untouched. Disco hips - just like his Dad.......
Will did a good conversion and the final whistle went as Stroud managed to break the 50 point barrier. Both teams congratulated each other for a game played in great spirit.
Full Time: Cirencester 33-53 Stroud
Ciren were much improved from the earlier game that Stroud had won 36-5 back in October. They were still powerful in the forwards but they had shown good attacking threats through their backs. At the breakdown they were excellent and this had put Stroud under real pressure a few times. It was also nice to see that their heads never dropped and they attacked and defended all the way to the end and this was reflected in the score.
It was a good wake-up call for Stroud who hadn't played for quite a few weeks. Stroud had shown excellent hands in sticky conditions and good attacking moves, but they needed to improve the competition at the breakdown and not stand off on some of their tackles.
A lack of after match facilities meant no food - so the kids went home and demolished their parents larders.....again.....