Unbeaten cup run continues against tough opponents
By russell vale
Stroud U14s into Cup Semi's after defensive masterclass
First match of 2018 was going to be a belter. County Cup quarter final vs Old Pats 'A' who had come 2nd in their group to Clifton, but beaten Matson, so we knew what a tough well organised outfit they would be.
Stroud hadn't played for a month so it would be interesting to see if we got back into the groove quickly, or would go into the game cold - like the weather.....
Forwards: Lucas, Orgy, Stoner, Mr T, Darrion, HP, Euan, Laurie
Backs: Hilly, Will, Dave, Keyan, Josh, Finn, Alex
Subs: Liam, Eddie, Jedd, Bernie, Callum, Flash, Nibbler
Will kicked off short so Old Pats started with a scrum on half way that they duly won. Good pressure from the backs forced Pats backwards so they kicked long. Alex ran the ball back well but after a few phases the ball was lost. Old Pats restarted with a scrum on the 22 and attacked to the right. They found a gap but Alex was waiting and put in a forceful tackle that jarred the ball loose and Stroud went on the attack themselves. Keyan started the move and the ball quickly came right and Dave sprinted up the wing. Old Pats closed him down well but Will ran a great inside line on the shoulder and took the ball on from the half way line and outsprinted the defenders to score under the posts for the opening try that he duly converted for a 7-0 lead. This should calm the nerves we thought....how wrong we could be.....
Pats kicked off and Josh ran the ball back well. Mr T then took on the pick and go. Once he was dragged down Stoner cleared out about 3 players to give easy ball for Hilly to setup another attack with his pinpoint passing. Keyan ran right but uncharacteristic handling errors stopped Stroud. Old Pats won the scrum but more quick tackling forced them back and Keyan came out with turnover ball. Stalemate broke out between both teams for a few phases with alternating scrums and lineouts being shared equally.
Stroud were showing signs of indiscipline at the breakdown and gave away a few penalties. Old Pats won a lineout on the 5 yard line and managed to get the ball all the way out to the far side. Scramble defense from Laurie and Sauce kept them out, but the inevitable happened and from the ruck their forwards did their own Rhino move on us and scored in the corner. A great kick from out wide equalled the scores at 7 a piece. Game On !!
Will backed his skills and went for another short kick off. This time it was perfect and went 10.1 metres and Dave gathered it up at pace and swerved through the middle and down the right flank bypassing on-looking defenders and scored a try of individual brilliance. Will kicked a good conversion to give Stroud a 14-7 lead.
Euan did a good kickoff catch and Lucas did a destructive run. This drew in the defenders so Stroud then went wide right with Keyan. Good off-load to Dave and a typical kick over the top was well handled by the Old Pats full back. He was met by a wall of blue chasers though and Stroud forced a turnover. Finn had a chance down the right wing but Old Pats tackled him well. They forced their own turnover and kicked deep but Alex caught the ball and ran it straight back at them. Both teams nullified each other for a few minutes with Stroud unable to break the impressive Pats defense who were not missing tackles and were then winning the battle of the breakdown on numerous occasions.
The game was restarted with a Stroud lineout but the forwards dropped it. Old Pats quickly attacked and more indiscipline at the ruck gave Pats another penalty. They kicked for the corner and won their lineout. They kept the ball in close and worked it close to the posts. Stroud thought they'd won a turnover but more hands in the ruck were penalised and Pats scored from the penalty with their bruising smashing their way over the Stroud line for a well deserved try - partly assisted by Stroud indiscipline that would need to be cleaned up. Somehow the conversion was missed and Stroud held onto a slender 14-12 lead.
Pats ran back the kickoff and Jedd put in a great tackle. Liam nearly forced a turnover at the ruck. Pats again came under pressure so improvised with a diagonal kick that Finn did great to catch over the shoulder and then run back. Both teams were going at it hammer and tongs. Tackles weren't missed. Rucks were a formidable battle between 2 well drilled teams. Kicking was also an equal battle as teams traded field position. No errors were made though from either side. Josh and Finn both put in big tackles. Stroud were going through the sub rotations to keep fresh legs on the pitch. Liam - back from injury - took his turn at hooker and was just as accurate as Orgy. Mr T did a great catch which gave Stoner a chance to show his forceful running style. The forwards kept it close but Old Pats stole a turnover and threatened to score down the right but Dave put in a try saving tackle and then kicked the ball out of play for a well deserved half time break.
Half Time: Stroud 14-12 Old Pats 'A'
Old Pats kicked off and Jedd caught it well under pressure. Teams traded kicks as they waited for handling mistakes that never came. The Old Pats back went on a mazy run and more good scramble defense forced him back inside - a decision he regretted as Mr T folded him in half with a crunching tackle. Old Pats still dominated the breakdown and attacked from the base of the ruck. They forced their way upto the 22 and more illegal hands from Stroud gave Pats an easy penalty that they converted from in front of posts to take the lead at 14-15.
Stroud didn't like losing the lead so Will rushed up for a quick kickoff into space. Old Pats defended it well but amongst the chaos of the run back and kick chase they were called for "crossing" and Will had a penalty kick that he duly converted to re-establish a Stroud lead at 17-15.
Now it was Old Pats that were showing some errors of judgement. They were ahead of the kicker at the restart so instead of securing ball deep in the Stroud half they were pulled back to halfway and Stroud had a tap penalty restart. Will saw a gap and kicked over the on-rushing tacklers but nifty footwork from Old Pats and a few missed Stroud tackles gave them an attacking position in Stroud half. Luckily they held on too long and Stroud kicked for touch to release some pressure.
The next few minutes was lineouts and rucks. Nibbler put in a strong tackle and at the ruck Pats were penalised. Stroud tried running it out but careless (or cold?) hands knocked on. Pats won the scrum and went blind but Josh put in a big tackle. On his shoulder as always was Keyan who then stole a turnover but more Pats pressure just forced Stroud backwards. It was left to Flash at scrum half to show a moment of inspiration and with no options left somehow magic a kick from the Stroud try line down the line and into touch. Pats won the line-out and again went down the blindside and this time Josh manhandled the player into touch.
Another Orgy laser throw down the middle of lineout was plucked from the air by Jedd. A good maul was formed and made good yards. Darrion spun loose and made some more distance before Pats were penalised at resulting ruck. Another penalty kick for touch and Stroud had a lineout and had dug themselves out of a big hole with great skill under immense pressure.
Another spectacular Jedd catch was then somehow lost in the maul as Pats showed their prowess at competing in all aspects of the game. Pats attacked but another Dave tackle/Keyan turnover gave Stroud an attacking platform. Nibbler went down the right wing and was close to scoring but somehow Pats denied a try. They then stole the ball and ran it out themselves. They kicked over the top and a horrible bouncing ball was dived on by Alex to secure possession. Good support from Eddie and Callum won the ruck and Darrion and Laurie then took it in turns to attack. Both teams were nullifying each other though and the pressure both teams under was immense with a 2 point cushion between them. A missed tackle, a dropped pass, a moment of inspiration or indiscipline was all that was separating the teams from each other.
The teams traded scrums on halfway with Stroud pushing well against the head with Eddie and Bernie playing well in the front row but Old Pats just doing enough to win the strike. More good pressure from the backs though forced a knock on and Stroud won their scrum and attacked right. That man Dave found a crease and slipped past the tackler and sprinted down the right wing. Knowing how tight the game was he then put on even more gas to then run it under the posts and give Will an easy conversion to stretch the Stroud lead to 24-15.
Stroud knocked on the kickoff and Old Pats went straight on the attack from the scrum. They attacked left and right. Nibbler put in a crunching tackle and the ball could have gone forward, but the ref correctly adjudged it to have gone flat so Pats were able to keep the attack going. They forced their way closer and closer to the Stroud line but Stroud knew how important it was to keep them out - but also not give away a silly penalty. Old Pats crashed through the gain line and looked to have scored but somehow a combination of the post, the padding, Nibbler and 3 other defenders stopped the Pats forward in his tracks and forced him backwards. More stout defense stopped them scoring a try under the posts. Eventually they came out wide and managed to score in the corner. The kick from wide was only just missed and the score now was 24-20.
The refs full-time whistle went and the despair on Old Pats players was clear to see. The kids from Stroud screamed in relief. 2 missed conversions was the only thing that separated the teams and this was partly due to the stout Stroud defense and having to force Old Pats to take a lot of time to score their tries when camped on the Stroud line - and then score them out-wide.
Full Time: Stroud 24-20 Old Pats 'A'
The battered teams and nerve-wracked coaching staff congratulated each other on a fabulous game of Cup rugby played at immense pace, with great skill and determination shown by both sets of players.
Both teams had attacked and defended in equal measures and it was skill that won the game at the end. No mistakes - which given the pressure of the match situation - is an admirable feat for 13 and 14 year olds running around a big muddy pitch in cold conditions and wearing quite a few bruises and niggling injuries from the intensity of the tackling and rucking that had typified this game.
Now onto the Cup semi final that we believe to be at home in mid-Feb vs arch-rivals Minch who beat Berry Hill. Should be a battle to end all battles after we stole a victory from them earlier in the season at their place. They are bound to come looking for revenge.
Many thanks to the ref who came across from Cainy to officiate with authority and talked the kids through the game to minimise the interruptions and explain what infringements they did. Any one that can tell Dave the rules of the game and Dave respects his decision has earned their reffing badges!