Old Richians 31

Stroud 41

STROUD manager Rupert Foote turned the half-time hairdryer treatment on his side to see the Fromehall Park outfit turn the screw after the break, writes Sean Moore.

Stroud trailed 21-7 at the break but a Foote tongue lashing made all the difference.

Earlier, Stroud started well when Dan Gordon took a quick penalty and drove over the line for a try converted by Kurtis Herbert. Thereafter Stroud contrived to squander any number of chances. The forwards did their part, providing plenty of ball, but back play was characterised by poor concentration, making small errors,which were seized upon by Richians, who showed very smart passing and running skills. They clawed their way back and took the lead and their final score just before half-time summed up the situation.

Stroud were attacking well and were poised to score when a misdirected pass was seized upon by the Richians winger, who galloped the length of the field to give Richians a comfortable 21-7 lead at the break.

Foote, was clearly going to have something to say and the team knew it. Whatever was said worked, and should be bottled. Stroud went back into the game showing a much more positive attitude and better concentration and they upped the pace of their game.

Regan Herbert opened the scoring when he picked up from a scrum and ran through three defenders to score near the posts. Hester converted, 24-14. Stroud’s pack was now dominant and they won good ball near the Richians’ line. The ball went out and Sam Hester threw a long arcing pass over the defence. Joe Ashenford brilliantly caught the ball and sped over from ten yards. Hester converted, 24-21. Stroud were now in the driving seat and, from another scrum and drive by the back row, Joe Hoyle took a short pass and yet again managed to outstrip the defence to score. Hester converted, 24-28.

Stroud were now playing with zip and determination, and following some loose play on the halfway, Joe Ashenford gained the ball and showed his remarkable acceleration to outstrip the defence and score. Hester converted, 24-35. Richians made several forays into the Stroud half but were often driven back by searing kicks from Hester. This suited the Stroud pack who were now showing greater levels of fitness than their opponents. Richians gained a try following a charge down and the game was in the balance. Hester stepped up to the plate and slotted two excellent long-range penalties to seal the victory, 31-41.

This was a good team effort and they responded well to the advice of the manager. Behind the scrum the Stroud threes have a vast array of skills and pace and are gradually eliminating some of their inaccurate passing glitches.

The very solid front row formed the basis of a hard-working pack with the experience and calmness of Rob Higgins being invaluable.