It was going to be a funny day. Cheltenham arrived with 10, then 11, then 12.5 and finally 13 players. The coaches discussed options and decided on 12-a-side as Cheltenham didn’t want to borrow players to make it 15-a-side and friendly fire with blue-on-blue was not to be encouraged as we already a few players down with various knocks and harder fixtures ahead of us.
Team #1, 1st Half
Forwards: Stoner, Liam, Bernie, Euan, Jake, Mr T
Backs: Hilly, Ryan, Keyan, Lofty, Big Mac, Alex
Cheltenham kicked off and soon won a scrum with a Stroud knock-on. They attacked left but good tackles from Bernie and Ryan kept them bottled up. They kicked over the top but the ball went dead in the try area. Ryan kicked deep with the 22 drop-out and Cheltenham ran it back well and opted for a gruber kick but Ryan handled it well and won a penalty at the breakdown. Stroud won their lineout in the 22 with a good Jake catch and attacked right. Good hands from the backs released Big Mac down the wing and he was held up and passed onto Keyan who was tackled into touch 5 metres out.
Cheltenham won their lineout and kicked deep. Big Mac ran it back well but the ball was lost forward at the next ruck. Cheltenham had a scrum on halfway and attacked into the Stroud 22 but were penalised. Big Mac took a quick tap penalty and sprinted upto half way. A deft inside pass to Lofty kept the attack moving and he weaved and swerved his way upto the 5 metre line but desperate defending dragged him down. Quick ball recycling to Jake gave him a stroll to the try line and a 5-0 lead. The conversion was missed.
Cheltenham kicked short so Stroud had a scrum on halfway that was easily won – because there was no competition due to no Cheltenham props….. A ruck formed and Hilly saw a gap over the top and kicked into the 22. Jake hacked on and looked to score but a Cheltenham hand touched down first. Stroud won the scrum 5 metres out and Jake attacked right, followed by Lofty. The ball came back left and a great long pass from Ryan to Keyan gave him an easy walk in try. This time the conversion was good for 12-0.
The rest of the half was punctuated with turnovers, big clearouts from Mr T. and strong tackling from Stoner and Keyan. Liam and Bernie had some good runs but Cheltenham's defensive held tight and the 20 minute half ended with no more points.
Half Time: Stroud 12 – 0 Cheltenham
Wholesale changes were done at halftime. 11 subs came on – the half game rule was the winner here. Even the Sun swapped with the rain clouds. The oncoming players compared notes. Dave had been into the kitchen to ask for the food menu and was excited to learn there was curry waiting. Carlo was disappointed because the tradition of pasta had been stopped. They agreed to a battle-of-the-foods. Whoever got the most food references into the 2nd half would choose the menu for next weekend…. “Can-he-Loan-Me” a shirt said Carlo trying to get an early score, but match official Jo had the final say and corrected Carlo with the spelling “Cannelloni”
Team #2, 2nd Half
Forwards: Bailey, Orgy, Carlo, Jed, Laurie, Darrion
Backs: Flash, Will, Dave, Keyan, James, Alex
Stroud kicked off and Cheltenham ran it back well – as far as captain Will who helped create a (cheese) turnover. Carlo remembered the food game rules. “Pasta” ball to me he shouted. Will arrowed a long pass to Carlo who trundled up the pitch and “Gnocchi” over a few tacklers. Keyan wanted in and got the ball and “mashed” a few players up the left wing and scored under the posts. An easy kick for a 19-0 lead.
The next phase of play was highlighted by a Darion lineout catch – like a leaping salmon from the pan to the plate…. Laurie “ciabatta’d” his way forward with his opponents flying in all directions. Stroud attacked left and the ball ended up in Dave’s hands. Trying to curry favour with the kitchen staff he bhaji’d his way down the wing, the last defender called Dominic was in the way. Not to worry – handoff ready to keep the tackler at bay. “Poppa-Dom” he cried as Dominic hit the floor, closely followed by Dave who was laughing at his own joke as he “kofta’d” up the ball. Stroud had a scrum restart and Keyan got battered like a fish shop haddock as he tried to punch over the try line. Darion went Rhino and was also held up. Carlo was there to finish off the move with a dive over the line. Missed kick for 24-0.
The next passage had Cheltenham attacking well. Stroud had a 22 drop out and Wil kicked long and wide for lock Laurie to chase, then hack on and finally force Cheltenham to knock-on in their own 22. A quick scrum restart and the call “Balti me” gave a simple ball to Dave and a jog to the try line. “Tikka” the box he said – untouched all the way. This kid has all the “Chaat”….
The Cheltenham coaches were bemused by the food references. To try and even things up they decided to go 10-a-side for rest of game. Stroud’s next attack was a cross-field kick from Will to Dave who caught it at pace but face planted as his studs gave way under him as he accelerated away. Boy can that “Mango”….. The attack continued and the ball ended up with Will who scored an easy try and topped it with a great conversion for 38-0.
The next attacking phase was led by Bailey and Jed. Carlo took on the attack and got chopped down eventually. Showing good technique he rolled on the ground to set up good ball. One roll, two roll, now for the third – the “profit-e-role” t present the ball perfectly…. The match reporter was loving this food challenge with a “penne” in his hand. Stroud continued the attack and got deep into their opponents 22. Cheltenham did well to turn the ball over and attack back but an ambitious long pass under their own posts went to ground and winger Laurie picked it up and scored an easy try. He was a “trifle” embarrassed but still enjoyed the moment. Now it was 45-0 to the food connoisseurs…..
Cheltenham were still trying hard and got their just rewards with a turnover from the next kickoff and a sprint down the left flank for an unconverted try but respectability at 45-5. They soon scored a 2nd try from next kickoff but an errant foot into touch and a cruel raise of the touch judges flag denied them a 2nd try. Stroud “profiteroled” again with a good Darion catch. Poor passing left Dave deep in his own 22 but a gap opened up down the left flank and he weaved his way down there for the final score of the game. It took him 2 minutes to finish the move and avoid 63 tacklers, but he got there none-the-less. Big Mac (now that’s a healthy meal) was heard to query Dave’s speed and claimed he could run the pitch in 10 seconds – and who were we to doubt him.
Full Time: Stroud 50 – 5 Cheltenham
The game of 40 minutes came to an end and the Stroud players compared try scores. But it was all irrelevant as none of the tries counted as it was against either 12 or 10 man team and only 15 or 7-a-side rugby is recognised.
So it will go in the record books as a 0-0 draw. The best thing about it was the curry at the end and all the kids came back from the kitchen with a big smile on their face. Curry had won the day. But Carlo had got the most food references in so next week its back to Italian influenced food kids. Or if the weathers cold we’ll need some Chilli…..
Apologies to those who didn't get my humour - or if Britain gets done-over in Brexit negotiations or trade negotiations if the Italians and Indians take offense at my humour - or lack of...…..