World Cup Rugby had started. Early starts were the order of the day - ironically enough without the Early's who had gone to expensive and desperate measures to avoid an early rise. 8am leave Stroud to get down to Bristol for a 9:30 kickoff vs a hybrid St Brendans and Old Bristolians squad (aka the Bristol BaBa's) that were weakened by players resting after Saturday school duty. Stroud were equally short of players. Kids working or injured meant we were down 4 backs plus a handful of forwards. Not to worry – plenty of talent still chomping at the bit after the Minch victory to remind Eddie Jones they were available if injury should impact England’s Japan squad.
Arthur was already on the plane on the way over in anticipation of the phonecall. If his sister could get on the pitch as England mascot on Thursday vs USA it was the least Eddie could do to even the bragging rights and give him 5 minutes as a sub – or run on as an over qualified water carrier – like captain Will was going to be as he recovered from his baddy head. Speaking of baddy head Coach Mk II was banished from carrying the flag so Jo would be officially able to assist the ref with any decisions that he was unsure of……
Weather was wet so forward play would be essential to controlling the ball and going through the phases to tie in their opponents and create space for the backs to dance their magic from afar.
Forwards: Lucas, Orgy, Carlos, Jed, Laurie, Jake, Stoner, Mr T
Backs: Hilly, Ryan, Dave, Lofty, Flash, Big Mac, Alex
Subs:, Darion, Euan, Callum, James, Bernie (injured in warmup)
Stroud kicked off and pinned St Brendan’s/Old Bristolians (SBOB) deep in their own 22 but indiscipline gave SBOB a penalty kick escape to half way. They won their lineout but that just unleashed the Stroud tacklers to decimate the runners. Smash 1 from Jake, Lucas with piledriver #2, then Dave finished them off with the 3rd tackle. Wet and greasy ball, going backwards at a rate of knots. Good game management said kick the ball so that’s what SBOB did. Clean catch by Alex, quick pass to Big Mac who scooted right, kicked into space and then Jonny May style sprinted past the defence and touched down in the corner. Conversion was missed with Stroud up 5-0.
Laurie made good yards on kick return duty. Then Carlo punched another hole in the defense. Quick backs hands to the right and Big Mac went on another kick and chase but this time the ball went dead. SBOB had a 22 drop out that Ryan handled well and made a good return run. Time for the forwards. Mr T first and then a sequence of Rhinos lead by Lucas but the ball eventually squirmed forward and SBOB had a scrum on their own 22. They did well to win it under a strong Stroud surge but under pressure in the backs they lost the ball and Stroud took the turnover and quick hands from Ryan sent Dave through a gap and he scored on the left. Another tough conversion was missed but water carrier and kicking expert Will observed that the ball was too pointed and told Dave to change to a fat one that could take his booming kicks. 10-0 to the soaked Stroudies.
SBOB’s next kickoff was short so Stroud restarted with a scrum on halfway but greasy hands and ball were a backs worst friend. Scrum to SBOB for a knock-on. The scrum went backwards after a hefty shove from Lucas, Carlo and Orgy. SBOB tried to control it but a brave Hilly dived on the ball as it came out. More loose ball and Alex was next to dive on the bar of soap. The ball was everywhere. Now SBOB attacked. Flash snuffed that one out. SBOB went back to their forward pack. Bad move. Carlo put in 3 massive tackles back-to-back. Men against boys came the cry from the Bristolians. The ref agreed and penalised Carlo for being too old. As Jenks (aka TMO-man) ran on with his registration card SBOB took a quick kick for touch but missed. Big Mac kept it in play. Then Jake went on a pulsating run and as he bounced off the ground 30 yards later he offloaded to Laurie who continued the attack and looked certain to score but a brave tackle stopped him short and SBOB won another penalty.
The next few minutes was constant pressure on the SBOB try line as Stroud camped in their opponents 22. Brave resolute defense kept Stroud out though. Eventually Stroud had an attacking scrum on the 5 metre line and Mr T at #8 attacked. He was held up short so the backs attacked. Ruck formed and Carlo saw the gap and barrelled over from short range to score his first try for Stroud. This time Dave’s conversion from wide was good as he thumped the bigger ball into a bush and gave Jo a game of hide and seek to partake in. 17-0 to Stroud.
Jake ran back the kick-off. Good tackling stopped him but good fast ball from Hilly to Ryan and an excellent kick forced SBOB backwards. Lofty won the kick chase/tackle/clearout and turnover battle 1 handed. Next on hand was Carlo who scooped up the ball in 1 hand, then scooped up an opponent in the other and carried them both a good 10 yards. Stroud won a penalty. This time the ref had called holding on in the tackle. Harsh call - the player was holding on for dear life as Carlo carried him at 20mph. Stroud kicked for the corner and an attacking lineout was called. Orgy – accurate as ever – found jumper Laurie. Quick ball to Jed and he powered over the line for another well worked forwards move. Another good kick from Dave gave Jo another ball hunting errand to go on. 24-0
Lofty returned the next kickoff upto half way. Then Dave carried on the attack down the left upto the 22. Carlo was next to pound the defensive line. As defenders got sucked in the ball came out to the backs and quick hands from all of them gave Big Mac a diving run into the corner and another try. With Jo still looking for the “fat ball” Dave had to kick Mr Pointy again and the kick went wide. 29-0 was now the lead.
Stroud’s first mistake of the game was a knock-on at kickoff. It was soon rectified as SBOB won their scrum and attacked left but an optimistic pass was intercepted by Big Mac on half way and he scored an easy try under the posts. Easy kick and Stroud led 36-0 as the ref blew for a break.
Half Time: St Brendans 0 – 36 Stroud
Half time team talk and subs made en-masse. Now to go up the slope in 2nd half and stay focused and try and keep a defensive clean sheet. Could the team manage it?
Euan caught the kickoff under pressure and SBOB got penalised. A quick tap penalty and Stroud went left. Lofty kicked into space but the ball squirted into touch. SBOB won their lineout and attacked but Hilly was waiting with a devastating tackle. Turnover forced and Stroud attacked with Euan but the ball was lost in a flurry of tackles. SBOB won their scrum and went left. They improvised with a hacked through kick that Alex recovered and ran back right. Good clearouts from Callum and Orgy gave Stroud clean ball. Jake attacked up the right flank and outpaced the desperate tacklers to score his forst Stroud try under the posts. Good conversion for 43-0.
The teams re-adjusted to 14-a-side due to injuries but this didn’t affect the next phase of play. More Stroud attacking. The occasional turnover. Carlo holding up 4 players to win a maul. Good Stroud attack via the backs with an excellent inside run from James off an Alex reverse pass. Then a tackling masterclass led by Darion flying around with no care for the health of his own body, then a Lucas pancake tackle. We all felt that on the sideline. Alex diving in at ankle level to snuff out another attack and then James being perfectly positioned and putting in a text book tackle. SBOB were confused, concussed and demoralised. Wherever they attacked Stroud were there in numbers to deny them. They really were trying hard for a shutout victory.
SBOB were a credit to their clubs though because they kept coming strong. With the help of penalties they worked their way upto the Stroud tryline. An Attacking lineout was called but good hands from Callum won the ball and he backed his skills and ran it out and then set Ryan away who unleashed the backs. Flash had a weaving run up the line. Good support from the forwards won another ruck – Orgy and Callum to the fore again. Ryan saw a gap and kicked to the right buty SBOB were well organised and ran it back well – but only as far as James who was loving the game and put in another stonking tackle. Stroud won a scrum and a darting run from Ryan broke into the 22 and he unselfishly passed onto Dave who finished off the move with a try and subsequent conversion. 50-0 was the lead.
In his official position as Head coach, part-time linesman, and rules (sorry Laws) maestro Jo went onto the pitch to negotiate a truce:
- Players and parents were wet
- England game was kicking off soon
- 50+ points scored so game is allowed to be cancelled
- We were running out of balls as Dave kept kicking them into the bushes
- Regulation 15, section 6, sub-section J, page 324, paragraph 4, clause 16A dictates that if the score is 50-0, we are playing 14-a-side, at Italian is dominating the game then the game has to be stopped….. mandatory…..
The ref was having none of this. By the time Jo had dug out his GRFU refs bible to show the evidence of 50-0 scoreline abandonment Lofty had run back the resulting kickoff and scored another try with a lovely dummy pass and two outstanding steps to make two tacklers tackle thin air.
57-0. The ref pulled out his Bristol combination refs guidebook and showed Jo page 276 regulation 999 – “The kids are loving it. We need to score a try. Please let us carry on for the full game. Heinz varieties 57-0 means we get to carry on”.
All the supporters loved this never-say-die attitude and the chance to see another 15 minutes rugby. Deep down a lot of the Stroud parents started to pull for their opponents and wish them a try…..
Another short kickoff gave Stroud a scrum on halfway. Darion at #8 attacked well. Euan was brave to dive on a loose ball. James attacked right. SBOB attacked back with a clothesline tackle. A quick Stroud tap penalty and Dave scored under the posts to make it 64-0.
Jo went to the rulesbook again…… and Dave went on the attack again and quickly scored another try. 71-0. Jo put down his refs bible and let the game play out to the end…..
Stroud knocked on the kick-off and this gave SBOB renewed hope they could score a try. Constant pressure from them was repelled by tackles from Flash and Stoner. Callum was also doing well at the breakdown ably supported by wingman Orgy. SBOB were still showing great passion and fighting to the end. They edged closer to the Stroud line – both sets of parents willing them on. Stout defending from Darion and Euan kept them out. Back for a penalty. This time Ryan was there with a double tackle. Stroud turnover and Darion and Jed running it out well.
SBOB kept coming back though and were desperate to score. Both teams were down to 13-a-side as injuries mounted. A penalty under the posts and their subs were shouting for a kick at goal to deny us the shutout but SBOB wanted a try. More pressure on the Stroud line repelled by Stoner, Darion and Flash. Darion then won a turnover and ran the ball out well and then onto Big Mac who was kept under good control. SBOB hacked on the ball but Euan was alert enough to recover it. Jed ran it back, then Ryan and then Laurie – now at centre. Ryan was having a great game at fly half. He kicked into space on the right and James managed to get their first and win the ball. SBOB forced a turnover soon after and crashed up the middle. “Crashed” as in car-crash as Stoner knocked them into next week. Jed was next on tackle duty as he man handled his man to the ground and then crashed through the ruck and cleared out 3 other opponents. Stroud attacked again but SBOB were still fighting to the death applauded by everyone within 1 mile….. A long kick into the Stroud try line was run out by Big Mac and as the players crashed into each other again the ball went loose and the ref blew his whistle to bring the game to an end.
Full Time: St Brendans 0 – 71 Stroud
It had been an enjoyable game to watch. As the score shows Stroud had dominated the game in all phases but it was through controlled play and not forcing the ball. Good pods by the forwards, many phases of control, great hands and kicking in wet conditions. Most pleasing though was the defensive clean sheet. Even with players all out of position they still battled for each other and knew their responsibilities. SBOB had deserved a try for their efforts and the last 10 minutes of harem-scarem rugby had nearly rewarded them but Stroud were to proud to let them score so a clean sheet was a well earnt team reward.
Next stop the clubhouse to watch England struggle to beat Tonga. Our U16 players frequently scanning their phones to see if Eddie Jones was going to call them up as adequate replacements for Messrs Vunipola, Tuilagi and Farrell.
2 victories this season doesn’t make you World Champs yet kids…. Keep training and those rewards will come to you in the future…..Carlo – another 3 years living in Glos and England will claim you for the 2023 world cup instead of your beloved Azzurri……
Thanks to St Brendans and Old Bristolians for their post-match hospitality, hot dogs the size of rugby balls, and big screen TV. Well played today. Shame you didn’t get the try your efforts deserved but well done for battling all the way and not letting your heads drop.
Next stop Cheltenham at home next Sunday. We had a good battle with them last season and after Stroud XV Senior team beat them 28-22 on last play yesterday their Junior team will come looking for revenge. Fortress Fromehall awaits………….