Chosen Hill.................................................22 Stroud..................................................... 28

STROUD won an exhilarating game to put them in good mood for the Christmas break, writes Sean Moore.

Although always in the lead they had to fight hard in the second half as Chosen Hill slowly chipped away at the deficit with their talented number 10 pulling all the strings.

Stroud’s defence however was up to the task and they were able to maintain possession at critical times.

Stroud’s first score followed a penalty in front of their own posts. They took Chosen Hill by surprise by running the ball out and this set Dan Gordon free. He made it to the halfway line then dummied to pass inside to Carl Ranscombe. He drew the defence and Joe Hoyle showed terrific pace to score a try near the posts. Pete Sykes converted 0-7. Chosen Hill replied with a penalty goal 3-7.

The Stroud scrum was providing considerable pressure, frequently pushing the opposition off the wall. Following a scrum in the Chosen Hill 22 the ball went out to number 10 Jake Marsh- he took a short pass at pace and burst through the defence to score an excellent try. ykes converted 3-14. After the break Chosen Hill took full advantage of the wind and slope and pinned down Stroud on their own line and they scored a try following a line out in the corner. Stroud continue to attack from long distance and a flowing 80 meter movement involving Gordon, Marsh, Doyle and Ranscombe finished with Stroud just held up short of the line.

Stroud’s fitness levels were now becoming more apparent as they continue to display good attacking rugby from all positions on the pitch. Yet another scrum against the head by Matt Hunt saw Marsh again elude three defenders in a forceful dash to the line. Sykes converted 8-21 At this stage done Gordon was doing an admirable job at number 9 after skipper Doyle had hobbled off. The now dominant Stroud pack was supplying regular ball and again this enabled Marsh to complete his hat-trick after another cleverly crafted and elusive break. Sykes converted 8-28. Chosen Hill then staged a remarkable comeback which brought them within six points of Stroud. Rob Higgins and Sam Leworthy were prominent and the team were elated at the final whistle.