Forwards Finish the Year in Style
By russell vale
Stroud U14s win away from home with the forwards leading the way again
Report from Mark S. – Apologies for inaccuracies, I don’t have the journalistic skills of Russ and stupidly didn’t make notes like he does. Duh!
Stroud made the trip down the M5 to face Bristol opposition for the first time this season. A reduced squad due to injury (Liam and Arthur) and pre-Christmas duties/holidays arrived at Portway Rugby Centre and were met with cold, wet conditions but a flat pitch that was in great condition despite the recent weather.
(Editors note – this is the same team we played in Barnstaple on tour earlier this year and beat them in Plate final 50-10 in equally appalling weather conditions.)
Stroud Players: Lucas, Orgy, Bernie, Mr T, Jedd, Darion, Sauce, Laurie, Hilly, Will, Dave, Keyan, Josh, Fin, Billy, Callum, Eddie, Arch, Nibby.
Stroud started well in the wet conditions. Strong forward drives from Mr T, Jed and Sauce straight through the middle of the SBs forwards took play into the opposition half. An excellent clear out at the ruck, which was a consistent feature of the morning, led to quick ball for Hilly to feed Will who was able to feed Dave. An outside break and hand-off resulted in the first score of the morning.
A second was soon to follow as a secure take from the kick off by Bernie set the platform for further pick and drives from the forwards. Darion was prominent with a number of powerful bursts and was backed up by his fellow back rowers, Sauce and Laurie. This took play towards the SBs 22 from where the ball went wide for Fin to free Billy on the wide outside. Showing a clean pair of heels to his opposite number he was in to score in the corner. Will defied the conditions, which were worsening by the minute, to slot an exceptional conversion from the right-hand touchline.
Stroud were soon back in opposition territory. This time strong carries from Bernie and Jedd and efficient work in the clear out from Orgy and Lucas, who were hitting rucks with powerful regularity, provided clean ball for Hilly to distribute. This time Will varied the attack and put in a long kick deep behind the SBs fullback, who bravely chased back and gathered put was met by the formidable presence of Dave and Keyan following up. The ball was stripped and Keyan was able to drive over the line near the posts. Try Converted 19-0.
SBs however were not without attacking intent themselves. On a number of occasions, the ball was spread to their wings but excellent tackling from Nibby and Josh stopped any significant gains in ground with one particularly strong tackle from Sauce driving his opponent back 5m. A penalty kick however pushed them into Stroud territory and good hands from their backs freed their winger to show excellent pace and round the Stroud cover to score underneath the posts. 19-7.
The response from Stroud was immediate, with Sauce and Josh putting the catcher under huge pressure from the kick off. A rushed clearing kick from SBs was well gathered by Josh, who produced a powerful burst up the left touchline. More recycled ball allowed Hilly to hit Keyan to power over. 24-7
As the rain continued to fall, Stroud forwards were demanding the ball and considerable ground was made from a drives up the middle by Lucas, Eddie and Darion, who was making significant ground every time he carried the ball. The ball did go loose but fortunately backwards and was quickly thrown out to Will, who under pressure was able to skilfully tip the ball on to Dave. A great pick up off his toes and another hand off allowed him to accelerate beyond the SBs defenders to in the corner (Great ball handling skills in the conditions) 29-7.
The lineout was the base for the next score. It was functioning well all morning despite the rain thanks to accurate throwing from Orgy and excellent takes from all the forwards. In this case, the take from Mr T and drive initiated by Callum gave forward momentum. With the ball controlled by Sauce at the back until Stroud approached the 22, Hilly picked the right time to release Will to produce a show and go and miss Dave on the dummy line to find Keyan in acres of space to stroll in under the posts. 36-7.
SBs were not lying down and a number of kicks forced Stroud back. Great work on the retreat from Fin and Arch (playing on the wing) secured the ball and allowed Stroud to attack again. The scrummage was solid and a quick strike from Orgy meant yet more quality ball for the backs. On this occasion, Will took the ball to the line and another wonderfully delayed pass found Dave on the burst to surge through to score under the posts.
Half Time: St Brendans 7 – 43 Stroud
SBs had unfortunately lost a number of players due to injury so Stroud leant a player to even the numbers. Josh was first to don the bib and showed committed running and tackling despite facing his team mates. The second half started in the same vein as the first with Jed and Mr T carrying strongly. A loose ball was well gathered by Eddie, who set off on the first of a number of direct runs that put the forwards back on the front foot. A quick switch of play from Arch (now at Scrum Half) and Will meant an attack down the narrow side, where Will was able to draw the last defender and release Nibby to score in the corner. 48-7.
Nibby was soon in action again for SBs as he’d swapped with Josh and was making a number of tackles to stop Stroud attacks. Another delayed pass from Will found Dave cutting a line and resulted in another score under the posts. 55-7. Dave then transferred to SBs for the rest of the game allowing Nibby to remove the bib and return to Stroud colours. Stroud were forced to defend as SBs made excellent use of the ball in the backs and freed their new right winger (from Stroud) to score two tries in quick succession and set up a third. 55-22.
Despite this drop in intensity, Stroud picked themselves up and re-asserted their dominance in the last 10 minutes. Laurie, Sauce, Callum and Jedd led the forward drives following an excellent take at the kick-off from Bernie, who had returned from an injury in the first half. Laurie and Darion, obviously both inspired from celebrating their birthdays this weekend continued the close quarter driving before Keyan took the direct route as well to surge through the defence to score under the posts (leaving their new winger lying in his wake!). 62-22.
The final score of the morning appropriately combined more strong forward work from Eddie and Lucas before the ball was transferred right by Hilly allowing Will and Nibby to execute well-timed passes to free Keyan, who ran down the right wing and around under the posts.
Full Time: St Brendans 22 – 69 Stroud
(Editors note - Glos beat Zebre 69-12 on Saturday so if Dave hadn't scored twice for SB todays score would also have been 69-12 - Spooky !!)
This was an excellent performance in increasingly testing conditions combining both powerful forward work with accurate ball handling. This was a great way for the boys to sign off before the Christmas and New Year break and provided entertaining viewing. Every player contributed to an overall team performance but special mentions to Mr T, Darion and Jed, who all had great games in the forwards.
Thanks to St Brendan’s RFC, whose players to their credit played the whole game in a positive, committed and disciplined way. Thanks also to their referee, who let the game flow in difficult conditions and allowed both sets of players to play – good game Sir.
I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and thank all players and parents for their commitment, support and camaraderie, which make Stroud Under 14s such a great team to be involved with.
Russ will be back with the reports in the New Year.
(Editors note – Thanks for the match report Mark - great job. Ever considered a job as a teacher? If I give every parent £1 each you can vote for Mark to carry on. He does Nomads match reports as well and must be our good luck charm to win so well away from home in such awful conditions…….)