Stroud start slow against Longlevens but finish fast in typical fashion
Stroud U14s beat another quality opponent as cup showdown with Minch beckons
The snow from the tour had finally subsided and a beautiful Spring morning was waiting in Longlevens for a clash between two of the County Cup semi-finalists. Longlevens had only lost a few games this season – just like Stroud – so two heavy weights were going to slog this one out. Who was going to be left standing at the end and claim to be Anthony Joshua? It was going to be a battle all the way from the start to the final whistle – just what the parents ordered…..and no need to pay £20 for Pay-per-View like for the boxing.
Forwards: Lucas, Orgy, Liam, Darion, Mr T, Laurie, Sauce, Stoner
Backs: Hilly, Will, Dave, Keyan, Billy, Fin, Alex
Subs: Jedd, Bernie, Callum, Nibbler, Haydn, Euan, Ryan, Flash
Stroud kicked off and Fin put in a good tackle on the kick returner. An alert Liam stole the ball at the breakdown but was soon pushed out of play. Levens won their lineout but were penalised at the next breakdown and Will kicked for touch. Stroud won the lineout and attacked left through all the backs hands but it was knocked on as a try looked likely. Stroud were quickly penalised for their error with Levens winning their scrum and their big centre breaking through the first tackle and running almost the length of the pitch to score a well earnt try under the posts. Somehow the conversion was missed but Stroud were down early 5-0.
Another good Levens kick off run back was halted by man mountain Lucas. Levens were controlling the breakdown well and launched another attack through the backs but an alert Keyan snaffled a loose ball but was quickly isolated and Levens turned the ball over. They attacked up the left wing but Dave put in a great cover tackle to force the winger out of play. Orgy put in a typical accurate lineout throw and Mr T caught it well. Another Stroud attack through Will and Dave was nullified by stout defensive work and another turnover. Levens broke free but Alex stopped the threat and Keyan was there to steal the ball. Levens were penalised at the breakdown and Will kicked for touch.
Stroud had an attacking lineout on the 22 that they duly won with Stoner at the rear. Darion took on the attack but indiscipline at the breakdown cost Stroud and Levens kicked for touch. They won their lineout and went back to their big centre but he was taken down by Keyan again – it was going to be a great battle all game long between the 4 centres. It was Levens turn to be penalised and Will went for the perfect kick for the corner but it just stayed in play and Levens ran it out but knocked on in a Laurie/Stoner sandwich tackle. Stroud had a scrum on the 5 yard line that they duly won and Will did a perfectly timed pass to Dave who crashed over the line for Stroud’s 1st try. Will kicked the afters and Stroud led 7-5.
Keyan took the kickoff back first. He passed onto Mr T who went on a barraging run up the right wing but was eventually forced out of play. Levens won the lineout but quick press defense forced another turnover. Mr T went on another strong run and when he was eventually brought down good rucking from Sauce and Liam gave clean ball for Darion to go on a Rhino run. Levens were again penalised and this time deep in the Levens half Stroud went for a tap penalty. Dave was tackled well but Sauce did well to recover the ball and go on his own run. Levens were very good at the breakdown though and forced another turnover and quickly attacked back. This time it was Billy with a great tackle to deny another good Levens attack. Stroud were again penalised but Levens missed touch with their kit and Billy and Will ran it back well. The teams traded attacks and turnovers until Stroud were awarded a scrum on the halfway line. Another good hook from Orgy under pressure gave Hilly the chance to set another attack going. This time Keyan went left and again Levens were penalised. A quick tap penalty and Dave attacked right but was pushed out of play on the 5 yard line.
Levens won their lineout and kicked to relieve pressure but Alex was waiting to return it. He secured good ball and Hilly went for a snipe – and in their surprise Levens again were penalised. Will kicked for touch and Stroud attacked from the lineout with Jedd showing his basketball skills to pluck the ball from the air. Will kicked for a gap but Levens were offside. A quick tap penalty and Will went left. He was eventually stopped but Keyan was well placed to take the pass and finish off the opportunist move. The kick from wide was missed but Stroud had stretched their lead to 12-5.
The pressure was building on Levens and they kicked off short. Stroud won the scrum restart on halfway. Keyan attacked again and this time Nibbles took the ball on further. Levens were again penalised. Time looked to have expired so while coach Mark was shouting "points" the team decided to ignore him and another quick tap penalty gave Will an attacking run down the left and in a repeat of the previous move he passed onto Keyan who scored another try out wide on the left. Mark was heard to say that 5 points is slightly better than 3. Will thought that 7 sounded even better so he put in the mother of all conversion kicks from the far touchline and the ball squeezed over the crossbar for a magnificent conversion. The half time whistle blew and Stroud had put in a dominant half after a slow start.
Half Time: Longlevens 5 – 19 Stroud
Subs were taken and fresh legs were going to be needed based on the pace of the first 25 minutes. Levens kicked off and Jedd was ready with a good catch. Levens were penalised at the ruck and Will kicked for touch. Another Orgy laser found leaping Jedd. This time Stroud set up an attacking drive that pulled in a few defenders. The ball came out and Will saw an opportunity and threw a long pass to Ryan on the wing who made good yardage. Again Stroud were awarded a penalty and another kick for touch gave them another attacking platform. The backs showed great hands to go through everyone and give Nibbles a good run up the left wing. A good insider pass back to Dave seemed to have split the defense but Levens scrambled back well and forced Dave into touch. Levens won their lineout and went to kick but Laurie used all 7ft of his wingspan to charge the kick down. The ball bounced loose but Levens recovered it and attacked quickly, but Nibbles was there with a good tackle. Stroud were penalised, but worse than that we had to wait a few minutes while Liam was carried off the pitch – hopefully for just a precautionary check at the hospital.
Levens took a tap penalty and their big forward picked up a head of steam. Brave tackling from Euan stopped him. More good tackling from Lucas and then Euan again was trying to stem the Levens attack but they were not to be denied and they worked their way upto the Stroud try line. Unrelenting pressure was finally rewarded with a try in the right corner but the kick was missed as the score closed to 19-10.
Stroud kicked off and Levens with a spring in their step attacked back at pace. Keyan put in another strong tackle. Levens changed it up with a kick but Alex returned it well. Again Levens showed more indiscipline and were penalised. Will quickly went for a tap penalty and then kicked for a gap. Levens knocked on and Stroud were awarded a scrum that they duly won with a strong push. Keyan attacked down the right and another penalty was awarded to Stroud. Will went for a long kick for the posts and the ball just died short. Levens were alert though and quickly ran the ball out to the right wing. Stroud were penalised at the ruck and Levens kicked for touch and missed. Alex, Will and Dave attacked to the left. Levens stole the ball at the breakdown and attacked through their pacy backs. With the Stroud defense out of position they managed to squeeze down the left wing and avoid desperate diving tackles and score a well deserved try under the posts that was duly converted to make it a Stroud 2 point lead at 19-17. The nerves were jangling for both sets of parents as the absorbing game entered its final quarter.
Stroud kicked off and Haydn showed the same tackling instincts as his brother and put in a monster tackle on the kick returner. Stroud were penalised and Levens kept attacking with a tap run. They again got close to the Stroud line but more typical stout defensive work by Stoner, Callum and Bernie kept them out. Next it was Orgy and Sauce combining well to keep the Stroud defensive line intact. Eventually Levens knocked on and Stroud had a scrum deep in their own half. Instead of resorting to a kick Will saw a gap and passed onto Dave who gained 50 yards down the right wing before being hauled down on the Levens 22.
Levens had a lineout restart and put the ball through all the backs to their right winger but Billy was alert and dragged him down well. Levens then kicked the ball away and Ryan recovered it well and went on a weaving run. Back through the backs and then it was Billy on the opposite flank who gained more hard yards. Stroud were awarded with a penalty and kicked for the Levens corner. Orgy again found Mr T with another accurate throw. Levens managed to disrupt the driving maul though and had a scrum restart. They tried running the ball out from deep but more great defensive press work from the Stroud backs forced a knockon.
Stroud won their scrum restart and set up some more attacks through Billy. Then Lucas went on a charge. More good ball security and Flash set up another attack to the right. Dave saw his chance and kicked behind the winger. The full back managed to get there just in time but soon got smashed off the ball and Darion was there to pick up the ball and go blindside to outrun the Levens tackler. He then showed great thinking to run it under the posts and give Will an easy kick. Stroud now had a 9 point lead at 26-17 but there was still 3 minutes to play and anything could happen.
Levens kicked short and again Stroud opted for the scrum restart that they duly won. Will, Alex and Billy attacked left and got into the Levens 22. More great rucking from Stoner and Orgy gave good ball to the backs and Dave crashed up the middle again. Darion then ran left. Tired bodies were littered across the pitch but Stroud still wanted more. Rhino’s were called and the forwards battered their way towards the line. Levens showed great resilience and kept Stroud out and forced a turnover. They had to run the ball out from under their posts but the quick tackles by the backs forced a knock on and an alert Keyan picked up the ball and scored under the posts. Will kicked the afters and the full time whistle went and Stroud had beaten a very strong and organised team.
Full Time: Longlevens 17 – 33 Stroud
It was a great showing by both teams. Stroud had started slowly but come into the game strongly. Longlevens had fully deserved to get back into the game by the mid-point of the 2nd half and Stroud could have easily crumbled but they showed typical great resolve to keep Levens at bay and then ramp up the pressure on them with 2 well earnt tries at the end of the game.
Stroud had played to the refs whistle and that was important because they had benefited from some quick tap penalties and also taking Levens knock-ons and turning them into attacking moves instead of being happy with a scrum restart.
Both teams applauded each other off the pitch and retired to the clubhouse for sausage and chips. Now a week off before the big County Cup semi against Minch on Sunday 8th April. This was a great preparation game – just don’t eat too many Easter Eggs kids as you need to stay lean, fit and sharp for the Minch game.