Stroud 31 Chipping Sodbury 13

STROUD continued in their winning vein, gaining a bonus point victory over their South Gloucestershire neighbours, writes Sean Moore.

The crowd had hardly settled before the dynamic no. 8, Stuart Hendry, scored a great individual try. Getting the ball in his own half, he set off on a dazzling run, full of power, pace and deception, leaving four defenders in his wake, 5-0.

Sam Hester scored from the kick-off when the forwards collected the ball and fed it out to Dan Gordon who found Kurtis Herbert with one of his long passes. Herbert drew his man and then released Hester who scythed through the defence to score under the posts. Herbert converted, 12-0.

Stroud’s pack were getting the measure of the opposition and were well led by skipper Dan Smith. The scrum was very solid and well organised and most of the lineout ball was won through the aerial dominance of Ben Stephens and Joe Owen. Following a solid scrum on the halfway the ball went wide allowing Hester to carve a gap and secure a second try. Herbert converted, 19-0. Sodbury were not to be denied and eased back into the game with a penalty but further well-won ball allowed Gordon to switch the angle of attack. He created an overlap for Pete Sykes, who once again showed his finishing skills by outpacing the defence to score in the corner, 24-3.

The second-half started in superb fashion with Stuart Hendry embarking on one of his long trademark runs, bamboozling the defence to score from sixty metres out. Herbert converted, 31-3. Sodbury were rewarded for their efforts with two tries, 31-13.

The game then became disjointed with many mistakes being made by both sides and Stroud were unable to repeat their glittering play of the first half. Jordan Phipps, who counter-attacked well, instigated a move which saw Joe Ashenford display blistering pace down the wing; he set up Kurtis Herbert for a try in the corner but the referee deemed that he had a foot in touch.

Stroud will rue the missed opportunities in the second half but can be optimistic about the remainder of the season. The set pieces are going well. All the players are taking their fair share of the tackling duties and their covering is first rate. Out wide, Stroud’s free-running backs are capable of scoring from any part of the field. Next week Stroud visit Clevedon for what will be a tough encounter.