Ran out of steam, and fit players, in loss to Matson
Stroud U14’s lose their unbeaten record against powerful Matson team
After a week off recovering from beating Cinderford could Stroud lift themselves against another top tier team that had recently run up a big score vs Minch? Stroud were missing Liam and Arthur again, plus a few other players who were away.
The visitors to Fromehall were our alpine friends from the ski resort of Matson. A bitter cold morning was waiting, The snow and hard frost had been cleared from the pitch by Coach Phil who had been out on the Piste the night before – bashing and preparing the Fromehall slope for a morning of entertainment. Only 2 months to the Winter Olympics – could Stroud prepare their players for the alpine events that would interrupt the game of rugby we were about to watch?
Forwards: Stoner, Orgy, Lucas, Darion, Laurie, Sauce, Euan, Mr T
Backs: Hilly, Will, Dave, Keyan, Billy, Finn, Alex
Subs: Josh, Nibbler, Haydn, Tom, Joe, Callum
Stroud kicked off and a loose ball was snaffled by Keyan. The ball came out quickly to the right and Finn was close to scoring but Stroud were penalised and Matson had a chance to escape. Their penalty kick missed touch though and Alex ran it back. Good support from Stoner and Laurie secured the ball which gave the backs chance to attack to the left. Quick hands got the ball out to Billy who showed his pace and with his first touch of the ball in a Stroud shirt scored in the left corner by outpacing the covering tackler. In celebration he dived to the ground and in hindsight wished he would have run it under the posts because Will missed the kick from out wide. 5-0 to Stroud.
Matson kicked short so Stroud had a scrum on halfway that the duly won. The backs attacked right and Dave swerved his way down the wing. Good tackling forced a turnover though and the next few phases alternated with both teams making good yardage and then losing the ball. Stroud had pinned Matson in their own 22 but a good long kick relived the pressure and they earnt a scrum when Stroud knocked on. The powerful Matson pack won their scrum and attacked right. Billy showed he was up for the battle though with a great tackle. Sauce and Darion managed to win the ruck and Stroud came away with the ball with a good set of moves from Mr T followed by Euan. Matson were very effective at the breakdown though blasting our players off the ball so they stole a turnover and unleashed their fast wingers down the right wing. Alex stopped a certain try with a last gasp tackle and Stroud got their hands on the ball to run the ball upto half way. A knock on though gave Matson a scrum that they duly won and their powerful #8 went blind. First Finn did well to slow him down and then a covering tackle dragged him down but he offloaded inside to a well supporting Matson player who managed to score while being dragged down by a valiant effort from Keyan. A good conversion gave Matson a 7-5 lead.
Stroud kicked off and a dropped catch gave Stroud a scrum that they won. They attacked left with Dave and then Alex. Matson managed to win another turnover though and kicked the ball away but Finn did well to recover it and make some positive yardage under immense pressure. The Stroud forwards and backs combined well to keep the ball alive both left and right with Lucas and Callum being forceful at the rucks. Eventually the ball came out right and a good pass from Will found Dave and he slalomed his way down the right wing, avoid alpine players and Piste posts alike to score in the corner. Will was very unlucky with the kick from the line – hitting the post. Stroud had recovered the lead back to 10-7 but they knew they were in for a battle for the whole of this games with the need to rotate the subs early due to injuries mounting.
Matson kicked off and Keyan returned the ball at pace. A lovely back-of-hand pass to Finn kept the move going down the wing. Matson were penalised and Stroud kicked deep for a lineout. Orgy found his jumper Mr T with a great lineout throw. The forwards did well to do a driving maul. Then the ball came out to Dave who crashed up the middle. A high tackle and then a quick tap penalty to the left looked to have opened the gates for another try but Matson intercepted the ball and momentum was lost.
The next few minutes was typified by the teams trading big tackles and strong runs. Matson were always looking to feed their #8 - 16 weetabix and raw steak was his breakfast according to some rumours. The kitchen staff had planned well though with 65 plates of spag bol available at the end. He crashed through a few tackles and looked like scoring but Dave hauled him down. Orgy showed great alertness to steal the ball and then run it back himself. Crunch came the tackle. Ouch went the shout from the parents. The players kept competing though. Stroud were awarded a penalty and another tap penalty from inside their 22 looked to have set Dave away but the pacy Matson backs penned him in so he kicked over the top. Matson were well organised though and recovered the kick and launched their own attacking phase. First Keyan put in a storming tackle, then Alex was next to put body on line. Josh also chased down an attacker. Stroud were being forced to defend deep. Could fortress Fromehall be breached?
Mr T came away with the ball, eventually it found its way to Will and he intelligently kicked over the top but an unlucky bounce favoured the Matson full back who himself kicked the ball out to give everyone a breather – and another glass of mulled wine for Tori who was enjoying the banter with the Matson parents – yodelling and cow bells ringing in homage to their alpine home….. The lineout re-start was lost by Stroud as an ill-advised tap bounced loose. Matson quickly attacked left and fast hands and even faster backs opened a gap down the left wing and they scored in the corner. The kick was missed but Matson had scraped into the lead in an absorbing encounter.
Half time: Stroud 10 – 12 Matson
More subs as Stoner was declared unfit for the 2nd half and weary limbs needed resting for other players.
Matson kicked off. Both teams alternated attacks. Nibbler put in a big tackle showing he was raring to go. Matson were too quick though and quickly secured the breakdown and while Stroud were still re-organising their new look forward line-up Matson spotted an opportunity though and picked upthe ball and went straight through the middle and scored an easy try. A missed kick though kept Stroud within striking distance at 17-10.
Stroud kicked off and again Matson were very well organised in their back line with fast ball coming out to he left. Their downhill skier got his skis on and accelerated towards the finishing line. He swerved inside Alex but a tap tackle saved the day and he wiped out face first in the snow. He did well though to not knock-on and Matson then pressured the Stroud line with a few more attacking phases. They were held up close to the line and won their resulting scrum and attacked left and scored a try close to the posts. A good kick stretched the Matson lead to 24-10.
Matson knocked on the kick off and Stroud won the scrum and attacked right. Darion made some hard yards, swiftly followed by Sauce who was loving the Rhino calls. Matson were dominating the rucks though and managed to steal a turnover and kicked the ball away. With Alex missing injured their was no panic though as Will nonchantly ran back to catch the ball under pressure. He slipped a few tackles and then passed to Joe who did a mazy run down the wing. Matson were penalised at the breakdown and Will tried to steal some extra yardage with the penalty kick but it stayed in bounds. Not to worry Orgy was there to put in a tackle on a guy twice his size.
What followed next was a bizarre sequence of kick and counter-kick. Dave to Matson and then back to Dave. Somehow our centre managed to navigate his way through the mogul field of bruised and battered players to freestyle his way over the final tackle to score in the right corner. A score of 5 rang out from the judges – only because Will missed the hard kick from the corner. Stroud had now closed the score to 15-24.
Matson kicked off and Dave ran the ball back. Matson were well organised in defense though and eventually forced a turnover. The ball came back at pace with interest. Dave brought down the player but was then forced off injured for the rest of the game. Another re-jig of the backs sent Alex back on at #12. With both our centres missing could Stroud adapt and force their way back into the game? Matson looked to exploit the gaps though but brave tackling from Finn stopped the marauding #8. Their pacy winger was supporting well and looked to have scored in the corner but a last gasp diving tackle by Josh denied the try – to the plaudits of both sets of coaching staff.
It was a pivotal part of the game as Stroud secured their lineout and Will kicked long. A good kick chase forced another Stroud penalty. Euan took the tap penalty and made some good yardage. Then Keyan blasted his way up the middle. Matson shut him down well but Darion was next up with 2 pick and go runs. Matson had got sucked into the breakdown and Keyan saw his opportunity and ran left and scored a well earnt try that everyone had contributed to. Another impossible kick from out wide was missed but now Stroud were within 4 points. 20 to 24. Another try to take the lead…..
The next phase of the game was played at 100 mph. Players were crashing into each other like Ice Hockey players on a rink – except we just had flimsy body armour and not military grade protection. Stroud had a face-off – sorry line out. It seemed like a face off though because Matson had resorted to plan B and just shouted ‘Hit, Hit, Hit’ to try and put our players off. It didn’t affect Laurie though who did well to secure the ball as the ‘HIT’ came in. Stroud attacked with Haydn and Callum but Matson stalled the move. Stroud were awarded a scrum that we thought would give us a good attacking platform to the right so we set up a favourite move that way but it was all to no avail as a perfectly timed Matson push won the ball against the head and their big #8 picked up the ball, got in his bobsleigh, and accelerated down the Cresta run. He didn’t even bother taking the corners – he just ran over every obstacle in his way. As he crossed the finishing line in an Olympic record of 7.6 seconds the Matson parents went crazy as they realised they were in pole position for a gold medal. The kick was missed though but the lead was now 9 points.
The last phase of the game showed how determined Stroud were to finish on a high. Defensively they kept the tackles going in. Keyan dumping his school mates backwards. Lucas just joining in for fun. Offensively good runs from Laurie and Sauce kept Matson on their feet knowing 1 missed tackle would get Stroud back within range. Even miner Hilly who had dug the ball out bravely from many an avalanche of bodies on the ground was showing his Olympic Biathlon credentials. He sniped round the side, skied past a few opponents and limboed under a few desperate tackles. Eventually he was hauled down. The last phase was owned by Billy though – quite apt as he had started the game with his first touch try….. First he had an attack where he just got tackled before breaking down the line. Then as Matson ran the ball back he was ready with a strong tackle. The ref rang the cow bells though and the game stopped with victory going to the boys in black, who had squeezed past the boys in blue. Both teams were black and blue though from the bruises that they had absorbed in this crunching encounter.
Full time: Stroud 20 - 29 Matson
Stroud had lost their unbeaten record to a powerful squad from Matson. Full respect to both teams for putting on the display they did. Now Stroud need to kick on from this, learn from some of the errors in their display and improve against Bredon in our next game.