Stroud 34

Old Richians 34

FROMEHALL witnessed a contender for game of the season.

Stroud opened the scoring when a great clear-out from Fruin provided quick ball for Hoyle to feed Gordon, who surged over to open the scoring. 5-0.

Richians drew parity when a well-rehearsed catch and drive allowed the Richians forwards to power over to level the score. 5-5.

Richains increased the lead with another try. However, great clear-out work from Harry Foote and Kurtis Herbert put the ball on a plate for Hoyle and Gordon to release Hester, who showed typically evasive footwork and pace to round his opposite number to score. 10-10.

The Richians Number 8 was now becoming a bigger force in the game, regularly making ground and dragging multiple defenders into the tackle. Forcing a penalty, Richians kicked for the corner and the 8 peeled off the drive surging towards the line. Excellent work from Fruin, Regan Herbert and Gordon initially held up the drive but the ball was smuggled to a fellow Richains forward, who surged over whilst the Stroud defence reacted to an unusually ambiguous call from the official. 10-15.

Richians were quick out of the blocks in the second half and gained field position from an early penalty. Again, they showed willingness to spread the ball wide and regularly change direction of play. After a number of phases, a well weighted kick over the top found their right winger out-stripping the cover defence to touch down in the corner. 10-20.

Stroud dominated the next period with forwards continuing to carry strongly. Stratton, Stephens and Reid were getting through huge amounts of work whilst Hunt and Harry Foote were also breaking the gain line in wider channels. It was however a rare loose ball that led to the next score. Fruin bravely secured a missed place pass and allowed Hoyle to feed Foote, who found Sykes coming off the right wing to create the extra man. A well –timed pass released Hester to cruise in. He converted his own try to narrow the gap. 17-20.

Stroud’s defence continued to be tested but solid work from Hunt, Fruin and Harry Foote forced an error. From the ensuing scrum a pick and drive from Regan Herbert took the play fully 40m into the Richians half. Further carries from Hunt and Sykes continued momentum. Another scrummage again provided a great platform for a Herbert carry before fine link play from Reid freed Hoyle and Gordon to show quick hands to release Kurtis Herbert to acrobatically dive over in the corner, touching down just before being forced into touch. A tremendous touch line conversion from Hester followed. 24-20.

Although Stroud held the ascendancy in the scrum, Richians were securing their own lineout and pressurising Stroud ball. One line out win and more expansive play from their backs freed their winger, who made ground before finding the centre on his inside. He seemed destined to score but a last ditch tackle from Kurtis Herbert forced the ball to be spilled over the line. Richians continued to press and soon almost crossed again this time only to be thwarted by Hoyle, who made up a huge amount of ground to make another last ditch tackle.

Higgins replaced Regan Herbert and was soon involved in the thick of the action. A great lineout drive from a Bashford take took play towards the Richians 22. Higgins continued the forward drive before the backs spread the ball wide. Despite the final pass going to ground, Sykes was able to collect the bouncing ball and round his man to score in the corner. 29-20.

Richians were never going to lie down and yet another drive from their Number 8 created momentum for their fly half to exploit with another clever kick over the top. An unfortunate bounce took the ball away from the Stroud defence and enabled Richians to collect and score. A well struck conversion reduced the gap to two points. 29-27.

With no joy up the middle, Richians looked to spread the ball wider but excellent pressure from Foote and Herbert in the centres forced a loose pass that was gratefully picked off by Sykes, who scooted in at the corner. 34-27.

Great disruption from Bashford and Stephens enabled to Stroud to regain possession and drive away from their line. A resulting penalty seemed to be the release from pressure that Stroud needed but an unfortunate miscued kick gave possession back to Richians. Again being prepared to stretch play from one side of the field to the other, Richians pushed and pushed. One final burst from their Number 8 broke the defensive line before goods hands resulted in a try in the far corner. An incredible touch line conversion levelled the scores. 34-34.

Stroud: 1 Charlie Foote 2 Matt Hunt 3 Josh Stratton 4 James Bashford 5 Ben Stephens 6 Rob Reid 7 Phil Fruin 8 Regan Herbert 9 Joe Hoyle 10 Dan Gordon 11 Sam Leworthy 12 Harry Foote (Capt) 13 Kurtis Herbert 14 Pete Sykes 15 Sam Hester 16 Sam Davies 17 Rob Higgins 18 Lex Brookes.

Stroud welcome Wells on Saturday.