Stroud Rugby
Sat 03 Feb 2024  ·  Counties 2 Tribute Gloucestershire North
Stroud Rugby
Stroud Rugby
Coney Hill


Tom Allen5 Feb - 18:47
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The 1st team looked to continue the positive momentum generated by a Nomads win on the previous evening. Themselves, full of confidence after last week’s dogged win on the road – they were keen to solidify their 4th place position in the league against a Coney Hill side that were sure to be up for the game following a narrow defeat to Stroud back in the Autumn.

1 Phil Fruin 2 Connor Voyce 3 Tommy Allen 4 Will Tidey 5 George Blennerhassett 6 Zinzan Cremins 7 Tom Flanagan 8 Sam Leworthy (Captain) 9 Tiaan Litton 10 Sam Hester 11 Harry Cadwallader-Rowles 12 Dean Tattersall 13 Harry Lightfoot 14 Pete Sykes 15 Conor Horlock
Replacements: 16 Ben Blossett 17 Freddie Pollard 18 Joe Ashenford

Stroud were quick out of the blocks with an excellent defensive press from the kick-off. Immediately, Flanagan and Cremins combined to win an early penalty, which Hester pushed down towards the 22. The lineout was not always consistent, however Tidey and Blennerhassett were able to win more than their share of Voyce’s throws and also caused disruption on the opposition ball all afternoon. A clean line-out gave the backs their first opportunity and within two minutes they showed what they were capable of. Hester and Lightfoot combined to feed Sykes, who drew the last man before finding Cadwallader-Rowles coming around off the left wing to accelerate way and cross in the right-hand corner. 5-0.

Stroud had the benefit of the breeze in the first half and after strong carries from Cremins and Tidey, Hester used the elements to pin Coney Hill back into their own 22. Despite securing possession and going through a number of phases of forward carries, they were unable to make any significant ground against a Stroud defence in which Cremins and Leworthy were very much to the fore. One Cremins hit dislodged the ball and allowed Fruin to show great composure under pressure to spread the ball immediately to Tattersall, who released Cadwallader-Rowles to scorch around the outside to cross in the left-hand corner. Hester converted. 12-0.

With two early scores, it would be easy to think that it is complete domination by Stroud but this was far from the truth with Coney Hill dominating both possession and territory for the majority of the half. Offering both strong forward carriers as well as ambition to spread the ball wider, Coney Hill benefitted from a Stroud transgression at the breakdown to kick for the corner. Backing their driving lineout, they looked to have generated forward momentum but superb work from Fruin, Allen and Cremins kept the line intact. A number of penalties were conceded and to their credit Coney Hill varied their options, mixing tap and drive with their lineout drives. Time after time, Stroud’s first up tackling was secure, with Cremins making a number of dominant hits that galvanised his team mates into even greater efforts. When the ball went wider, Tattersall and Lightfoot shackled their opposite numbers whilst Horlock did exceptionally well to collect a tricky kick over the top to secure possession and allow Litton to clear.

Time and again, Coney Hill pushed towards the line but eventually a knock on from a tap penalty awarded Stroud the opportunity for rest bite. Fruin, Voyce and Allen were completely secure on home ball allowing Leworthy to pick and go to make yardage from a scrum on his own 5m line. Varying the option, Hester opted not to kick but to feed Tattersall on a hard line, where the centre created space and provided an offload for Lightfoot to race away from inside the 22. Unfortunately, the final pass went to ground but minutes later an almost carbon copy did produce a score. A burst from Cremins took play up to halfway before Litton and Hester released the centres again. Tattersall took play on before finding Lightfoot, whose outside break and step took him clear before finding Litton running a great inside support line to cruise over by the posts. Hester converted. 19-0.

Coney Hill continued to apply pressure and again forced Stroud back into their own 22. Again, defence held firm with Flanagan showing that his lengthy spell out with injury had not blunted his ability in the chop tackle and Cremins continuing to see every tackle as a personal mission to drive the opposition back. With the defensive line so secure, Coney Hill tried another option and were rewarded when a kick ahead took a favourable bounce allowing their centre to hack on and ground for their opening score. Try converted. 19-7.

With 5 minutes to go in the half, it seemed that momentum had swung with Coney Hill returning Stroud clearances with strong direct running. A huge carry from their Number 8 up the wing however was halted by brave work from Cadwallader-Rowles, who defied the disparity in size not just to bring the forward down but to cough up possession as well. Loose ball was picked up by Leworthy, who as ever needed no second invitation to take play back to and through the opposition – taking play up to halfway on the left wing. More secure and efficient handling from the backs saw Horlock released on the right and his pace and step took him away from the covering defence to run in and around under the posts. Hester converted. 26-7.

Unfortunately, Stroud were reduced to 14 men soon after when Tattersall was yellow-carded for a high tackle.

Half Time Stroud 26 Coney Hill 7

Down to 14 men and now playing into the wind, Stroud knew the job was only half done and a positive start to the second half was key. (Blossett replaced Allen). Coney Hill immediately put Stroud under pressure with a deep restart. Once more, Stroud found themselves inside their own 22. Hester managed to clear under pressure but Coney Hill were able to secure the lineout despite pressure from Blennerhassett. Opting for close range forward drives, they advanced slowly towards the Stroud line. The defence held firm but numbers had been sucked in and when Coney Hill spread the ball wide they exploited space and scored despite the efforts of Blennerhassett and Horlock, who was injured in the process and had to leave the field. Try converted. 26-14
(Ashenford replaced Horlock with Sykes moving to Full Back).

The next score was now crucial but any doubts that may have been generated within the Stroud support were soon dispelled by the reaction of the players. Blossett and Tattersall carried powerfully dragging multiple tacklers with them before Tidey carried on the momentum beyond halfway. Litton gave quick ball to Hester, who fed Lightfoot and the centre’s mix of pace and mesmeric step and swerve drew in the defence before releasing Sykes to beat the cover on the outside to dive over in the corner. Hester converted from the acutest of angles. 33-14.

The backs were now causing Coney Hill real problems every time they gained possession. With Blennerhassett, Tidey and Leworthy all secure under the restarts – possession was now very much in Stroud’s favour and the backs looked to exploit it at every opportunity. Hester again released Lightfoot with a delayed pass, which gave the centre the half yard he needed to once again break away. Stepping inside the covering defence he offloaded to Tattersall, who appeared to half a walk-in score – only for the referee to pull play back for a forward pass.

The next score was however not long in coming. Play was spread right with Sykes freeing Ashenford to make good ground before good recycling gave the opportunity for Pollard (on in place of Flanagan) to carry into the heart of the defence. More quick ball gave Litton the chance to show his excellent distribution, spreading play to Hester. His outside arc allowed him to release Cadwallader-Rowles. This time the winger was stopped in his tracks and for once possession was not regained. Despite the loss of possession, Leworthy immediately seized upon loose ball and freed Cadwallder -Rowles to scorch up the touchline before an outrageous step took him beyond the last tackler and towards the posts. Hester converted. 40-14.

Although the backs were providing the scoring, the cohesive nature of the forward work really set the platform. Tidey and Blennerhassett were getting through their share of carrying as well as their lineout work whilst Blossett and Cremins physicality was more than a match for their sizable opponents. A strong surge from Voyce made ground up the middle before play was spread left. Patient build up and carries from Fruin and Tidey drew in the defence before play was spread back to the right. Sykes took possession in midfield before executing a beautifully weighted cross field kick on the run, which Tattersall was able to collect with ease and jog in unopposed. Hester converted. 47-14.

(Flanagan returned in place of Cremins with Allen replacing Voyce).

With Coney Hill now reduced in numbers due to injury, Stroud took full advantage. More cohesive work from the forward pods set up Hester to free Lightfoot to break wide, cut inside and brush of three tacklers for a well-deserved score under the posts. Hester completed an almost perfect afternoon from the tee to complete the scoring. 54-14.

Full Time Stroud 54 Coney Hill 14

An extremely entertaining game played out by two highly committed sides. Stroud certainly matched the Coney Hill physicality and the skills and efficiency of the backs provided the polish on one of the finest performances of the season so far. Although the backs will gain the plaudits for some outstanding work – the forwards again set the platform, especially with their first half defensive performance when under considerable pressure.

Man of the Match: Zinzan Cremins

Next Fixture: (Away) v Old Cryptians Saturday 10 February KO 1430.

Match details

Match date

Sat 03 Feb 2024




Counties 2 Tribute Gloucestershire North

League position

Coney Hill
Team overview
Further reading

Team Sponsors

Main Club Sponsor - Stroud Brewery
Club Sponsor - Nortim Engineering Ltd
Sponsor - Cotswold Appliances (Oxford) Ltd
Club sponsors  - Howard Tenens Logistics Ltd
Clubs sports therapy - The Prime Practice
Club Sponsor - EPS
Club Sponsor - The Weighbridge Inn