Fireworks at Berry Hill as Stroud remain unbeaten
By russell vale
Stroud U15s beat a combative Berry Hill in the rain
Stroud were in the midst of an injury crisis. Good job Delia was in attendance as she spent 20 minutes getting everyone match fit. The kids were fine. It was the coaches who needed the TLC. Coaches Mk I and II were bruised and battered from their matches on Saturday. Coach Jo had reffed 2 games on Saturday but luckily for his weary limbs Berry Hill provided an excellent young ref to keep the game flowing and encourage attacking rugby.
Berry Hill was the next venue on the U15’s season tour. This is as far West as we go – until Devon in April. Unless Chris goes looking for Welsh fixtures for us……
A great turnout from players and parents alike gave the coaches a squad of 24 to rotate between – fresh legs would be key in the damp conditions that waited us. Was it a damp drizzly fog or was it the bonfire and fireworks smoke wafting over the pitch? All we knew that it wasn’t Matson level rain but still enough to make us wish for the Summer sun again. Still it was better than the last time we were supposed to play Berry Hill when 3” of snow wiped out the last day of our March tour.
Forwards: Lucas, Liam, Bailey, Laurie, Jedd, Harry, Stoner, Mr T
Backs: Hilly, Will, Dave, Keyan, Arthur, Fin, Alex
Subs: Orgy, Bernie, Euan, Darion, Callum, Josh, Flash, Ryan, Jamie
Berry Hill kicked off and the ball skidded into touch on the greasy pitch. Stroud won their lineout and quickly attacked right. The Stroud #12 attacked through the middle and outran the Berry Hill tacklers to score the first try under the posts. This #12 looked pretty good. Dave needs to look out for him because as we’ll see Dave was a bit anonymous in this game and only popped up at the end to put in a scoring contribution…… Will’s good kick and Stroud led 7-0.
Berry Hill kicked off again and this time Keyan kept it in play and smashed his way up the right. Good recycling at the breakdown gave Bailey a platform to burst his way through the Hill defence. More good forward play from Stoner and Lucas kept Stroud marching forward. Stroud were going through the phases with forwards and backs making good progress. Eventually the ball popped out to the backs and a typical accurate Will pass found Centre Tom and he bounced off a few tackles to score in the left corner. Dave who ? Will’s kick just missed but Stroud were imposing themselves at 12-0.
Berry Hill kicked off and Will returned it up the left flank into the 22. The ball was turned over at the ruck and Hill kicked long. Alex fielded it cleanly and returned it. Good forward support from Harry and Jedd won the ruck. Stroud attacked left with Fin making good distance and Laurie supporting well to take it further into the Hill half. Stroud were penalised though and Hill kicked high and deep but Alex caught cleanly and a well positioned Will took on the ball at pace. Hill were organising their defence much better though and kept Stroud at bay. They forced a turnover and attacked through the phases themselves – very powerful in the forwards as expected, but also weaving attacking lines in the backs. They worked their way into the Stroud half until Harry forced a turnover. Dave saw a gap and kicked long. A great kick chase gave Hill the only option to take the ball back into their try areas and touch down. Stroud won their 5 metre scrum with a great forwards push. Dave tried to score his 1st try of game but was closed down but this gave an easy pass to Keyan to score under the posts. 3 tries in and Dave had yet to score. Will kicked the extras and 19-0 was the Stroud lead.
Jedd caught the kick off and attacked well. Bailey made another crunching run. The backs then combined well with Will, Dave, Alex and Finn attacking left. The ball came back right and Arthur had a good run. More Llamas and Rhinos pounded the Hill line but couldn’t break through. Hilly redirected the attack to the left and it went through all the hands and Fin was unlucky to knockon the greasy ball as a try beckoned. Berry Hill won their scrum while going backwards under immense pressure. They kicked at an angle and did well to recover it and carry on attacking left. Will saw the threat and went for the intercept and just failed to hold on. Hill won the scrum and kicked hard and low. Alex ran it back into traffic and was turned over while waiting for the support. Berry Hill won a penalty and kicked long and Will did well to catch it and take the mark, and then kick it upto the halfway line. Hill fumbled their lineout and Orgy broke through to tackle their scrum half. Hill kept the ball alive well in the forwards but were nullified by Jedd, Stoner and Bailey tackles.
Hill kept forcing their way forward until they lost control at a lineout when a try threatened. Stroud had a 5 metre scrum that Orgy managed to hook well while going backwards. All it meant was Dave got the ball in his own try area and with no space to kick went for safety and touched down. Wrong try zone shouted the parents to remind Dave he wasn’t officially on the score sheet yet. Hill won their scrum and went blind. A good tackle by Arthur just slowed the inevitable as Hill’s powerful forwards quickly recycled the ball and kept it narrow to score in the corner. No kick from wide but Hill had got on the score board at 19-5.
Stroud kicked off and Keyan and Euan both did good tackles. Berry Hill’s #12 was imposing himself on the game and went on a long weaving run. He got deep into the Stroud 22 before getting slowed down. Hill kept it in the forwards but Dave was ready for this. Great tackle technique lifted their big forward back 5 yards. Darion pounced and turned over the ball and went on a run himself. Hill forced a turnover though and attacked back. Josh did a good tackle. Liam did a roll tackle. It was getting frantic now as Hill attacked in waves. Eventually they got their rewards and scored a try in the left corner. Another difficult kick was missed with the score at 19-10.
Hill ran back the kickoff and Euan did a powerful tackle. They improvised with a long kick that Alex caught in his 22. Without many options he decided to kick it back and then chase down the ball and put in a good tackle with Fin. Hill kept the ball under control for a few phases and kicked long but Alex had managed to get back into position OK and cover it up. Bailey had another powerful run and earnt a penalty. Will kicked long into the 22. Stroud won their lineout with great catch by Laurie. This set up the forwards with an attacking drive. Hill sucked in players to defend against it. At just the right time Hilly took the ball and passed out to Euan who was just held up short. Quick recycle and the backs took the forwards glory and Samak junior crashed over the line. Wills good kick gave Stroud a 26-10 lead. And still not a Dave try in sight.
Berry Hill kicked off and Mr T caught it well and went on a pounding run, his well timed pass bounced off a slippery Stroud shirt. Berry Hill ran out the last few minutes of the half with scrums and lineouts but Stroud’s stout defense eventually forced a knockon and the refs whistle brought the half to a close.
Half Time: Berry Hill 10 – 26 Stroud
Stroud kicked off and a kicking contest developed between Hill and Will. As expected Will won it with the help of Ryan putting in a great tackle on the Hill winger that forced a knock on. Stroud won the scrum on half way and attacked left. Dave crashed through the middle and swerved past a gfew desperate tackles. As the try line beckoned he was held up but due to covering 100 yards sideways and 40 yards forward it gave the forwards chance to time their clearouts to perfection. Darion went Rhino and forced his way over the line with a great decision. Will kicked the extras for 33-10. Dave claimed an assist but video replay showed Orgy pushing the ball back so it was him that earnt the assist with the last touch before Darion scored…..
Berry Hill kicked short so Stroud had a scrum restart on the halfway line. Flash at scrum half did a good pass left that gave Keyan space to attack. He was eventually dragged down and the ball squirmed loose. Hill won their scrum and attacked back. Keyan made amends with a great tackle. The ball came lose and Josh bravely dived on it. Hill were penalised so Will kicked for the 22. Stroud won their lineout with more safe hands. Will got the ball in acres of space. He saw Dave next to him and decided to improvise and not pass to the crash-ball king. He kicked over the up rushing Hill defence and the ball bounced just short of the try line. Who was there to snaffle the ball and score? It was the Archway rugby captain. Dave was scratching his head as he walked back ready for the kick-off. Who was scoring all these tries that would normally be his ? Another automatic conversion and Stroud led 40-10.
Hill kicked off and Dave went hunting for the ball. He kicked long hoping for a full back knockon. Another good run back was met by a Will tackle and resulting knockon. Stroud had a scrum on the Hill 22 but couldn’t compete with the powerful Hill pack who won against the head. They had a sequence of good runs and penalties/lineouts that got them deep into the Stroud half. They won a lineout within 10 metres of the Stroud line and went blind and scored their 1st try of the 2nd half. The conversion was missed with the score now 40-15.
Stroud kicked long and the powerful fast Hill #12 ran back the ball deep into the Stroud half. The Hill forwards kept the ball under good control and pressured the Stroud line. A number of infringements kept Berry Hill in charge and a quick tap penalty opened up space to the right and they scored in the corner. Another hard kick was missed and the score closed to 40-20.
Hill knocked on their kickoff and the teams traded scrums, rucks and knock-ons. Hill threatened to score with a powerful run but Stoner put in a typical punishing tackle that jarred the ball loose. Bailey made some good yardage with 4 players hanging off him. Keyan then exploited the space with his own powerful run. The ball came back right and Will gruber kicked into space. Hill did well to recover though and then kick the ball long into space. The Stroud backs ran the ball back with interest though and a gap on the right opened up. Who was there but the coach Mark’s son to score. Was it Dave or Harry though ? They were both covered in mud so we couldn’t tell them apart. Best to not make an error in the match report so we awarded it as a team try as everyone had got involved. Dave was fuming. He even subbed himself out of the game to take issue with the match reporter – and get some air back into those lungs. Will was laughing. Probably helped relax him as he slotted the conversion from out wide with a great low kick into the wind. 47-20 to Stroud
Stroud knocked on the kickoff as errors started to creep into their game as limbs tired in trying conditions. Hill started to impose themselves in the forwards and marched their way to the Stroud line with only Lucas, Bernie and Callum able to slow them down. Stroud had a scrum close to their own line that they managed to win which gave Will a good kicking escape option. Hill were very opportunistic though and managed to catch the kick cleanly, swerve past a few tacklers and score in the left corner. Kick was missed. 47-25 to Stroud.
Berry Hill knocked on the kickoff again. Stroud won their scrum and Arthur attacked well down the right. At the resulting ruck Hill were penalised and this gave Will a kickable penalty that Mr Reliable duly kicked to give Stroud a 50-25 lead.
Hill kicked long and forced a Stroud turnover. They were still fighting all the way to their credit. They attacked right and Stroud were penalised but Callum was alert enough to keep playing to the whistle and kept bowling through the ruck to spoil the ball. Hill took a quick tap penalty and managed to attack left through the backs to allow their #12 to score in the corner. He went off injured but had scored more tries than his opposite number Dave who was still to yet register an official try in the game. The kick was missed with Hill closing to 50-30. Dave jogged back onto the pitch for the last phase – desperate to get a try…..
Stroud kicked off and Hill returned the ball well and Will putting in a strong tackle to deny them a good scoring opportunity in the Stroud 22. Stroud won the scrum restart and Will kicked long. Arthur recovered the ball well and set up another backs move. Dave made yardage and then onto Will. He saw a gap and his kick down the line landed just the wrong side of the whitewash. Back for a Hill lineout on halfway. It was knocked on and Stroud pounced. Will weaved his magic through the middle of the pitch. As he was tackled Euan was there to take on the ball. The forwards recycled it well and Will saw a gap right. He kicked for the corner and it was a race between the Hill winger and Dave to get to the ball. Dave showed the biggest desire and dived onto the ball as it skidded into the try area, just beating the Hill winger, or did he? The ref blew his whistle. Was it full time, was it a knock-on, was it a Berry Hill drop-out, was it a Stroud try and Dave finally getting on the try sheet? The TMO was consulted, Dave offered bribes, and the ref relented and gave Stroud the try. Dave had finally got the try he had searched for all game…..The kick from wide was missed as the full time whistle blew.
Full Time: Berry Hill 30 – 55 Stroud
Both teams applauded each other for an excellent game played in tough conditions. Berry Hill had come back well after a fast strong Stroud start. It was 8 tries to 6 to Stroud and a few players came off the pitch wondering if we had won. Was that concussion or just the sign of a good battle? Luckily the difference was the conversion kicks with Will kicking 6 from 8 and a penalty so that’s 15 extra points we got from the boot.
We retreated to the clubhouse for chips and pints. There was also a new game created by some of the parents. Spot the dodgy car registration in the car park. We had BRA, V1 RGN, B16 TR33 (work it out!), and my favourite B0AR 4T
Many thanks to Berry Hill for the great game of rugby, the excellent ref (who in a moment of comedy admitted he didn't know the nuances of Junior rugby rules like no sniping at the scrum), and their post match hospitality. Its nice to officially finish our March U14 rugby tour with a good victory at Berry Hill while playing as U15’s ! Must be the longest rugby tour in history – even longer than a Lion’s tour to New Zealand.
As we headed back to sunny Stroud Dave laid into the match reporter and took issue with the accuracy of his notes (damp admittedly so perhaps their might have been the occasional error). All I got was an hour of abuse and claiming extra tries. As history will show the following Stroud players scored todays tries:
Stroud #12, Centre Tom, Keyan, Samak Junior, Darion, Archway rugby captain, Coaches son (aka Team try), Dave.
The one lesson for Dave from todays match report is the pen is mightier than the sword…..