Midsomer Norton 24

Stroud 14

NO murders were committed in this part of Somerset on Saturday, but several claims of daylight robbery were made by some of the Stroud players, writes Sean Moore

Stroud were on the verge of winning this enthralling clash against one of the top sides, but a series of decisions seemed to go against them.

Stroud started well and their powerful pack had dominance in the tight and punched many a hole in midfield. Their defence was as good as it has been all season, the tackling, commitment and game awareness being of a very high standard. Jordan Phipps showed some excellent fielding of high balls under pressure.

Stroud opened the scoring when a Midsomer attack was on the verge of going over the line but Pete Sykes snaffled the ball and set off on a lung-bursting hundred-metre dash to score at the other end. When he recovered his breath he calmly converted from the touchline, 0-7.

Stroud were using the slope and the wind cleverly. Sam Hester at no. 10 had an influential game with his kicking gaining valuable ground. Joe Ashenford had to go off with a hamstring problem. Pete Allen made his debut showing some subtle touches before he too had to go off with a shoulder injury. Tom Flannagan made a nuisance of himself, stopping many Midsomer drives with his low level tackling. Midsomer had three or four powerful runners, especially a dynamic no. 8 who made good ground whenever he got hold of the ball.

Stroud’s second score came after a solid scrum near their own 22. Joe Hoyle made a trademark break down the blindside, eluding three defenders before passing to Sam Hester who was left to sprint half the length of the field, just escaping the clutches of the Midsomer defence. Sykes converted, 3-14.

Most people though that this was enough to gain victory at half-time but Midsomer thought differently; the game became very scrappy with players on both sides being confused about some of the ref’s decisions. Midsomer gradually eased their way back into the game and the turning point came when they were awarded a penalty try following the collapse of a maul near the line. This was followed by a clinching try in the corner.

Whilst Stroud can be very pleased with their efforts Midsomer came away with a victory that they just about deserved.