Stroud 28

Matson 13

STROUD maintained their unbeaten run with a rare victory over rivals Matson.

They showed their dominance, driving Matson back over their own line for Hendry to touch down. Hester converted. 7-0.

Hester had another opportunity to increase Stroud's momentum, but his penalty drifted just wide of the posts.

However, Stroud were penalised at the breakdown and the penalty was kicked from in front of the posts. 7-3.

Stroud pressured their deep kick-off forcing Matson into a clearance kick from with their own 22. Hendry returned play with interest, carrying into the heart of the Matson defence. Further carries from Kibble and Bashford were followed by a clever switch of play from Hoyle, which allowed Hester to feed Sykes. From an almost standing start, great feet took him around his opposite number in the narrowest of spaces before accelerating away from the defence. As cover closed in, his inside pass dipped but was skilfully hacked on by Hoyle, who followed up to score under the posts. Hester converted. 14-3.

Matson’s driving lineout was again their main attacking weapon and they looked like they had crossed the line only to be held up by more great defensive work from Phipps. From the scrum, excellent defence appeared to have forced an error however Stroud were penalised for a deliberate knock on. This time Matson took full advantage and a well-executed catch and drive resulted in a score. 14-8.

Stroud immediately looked to attack from the kick-off. Despite some loose ball in midfield, Hester regained possession and was well supported as ever by Phipps. Great clear-out work from the winger secured the ball but was not appreciated by the Matson hooker, who was promptly red-carded for a punch to the head. Despite struggling to maintain possession, Matson made good ground from a scrum and as ball was recycled forcing a penalty, which resulted in the inevitable kick to the corner, catch and drive and subsequent surge over the line. 14-13.

Patiently, Matson went through their phases until Stroud were penalised in front of their own posts. The opportunity to take the lead for the first time was passed up by the Matson kicker and this let-off seemed to galvanise the Stroud team even more. From inside his own 22, a powerful surge from Hendry and offload to Leworthy enabled the centre to drive over halfway before quick ball from Marsh allowed Hester to feed Phipps, who intelligently chipped ahead before being hit late. Although his chase was prevented, Hester showed his acceleration to outpace the covering defence to touch down. A superb conversion from Hester created the crucial two score advantage. 21-13.

Very much in control now, thanks to their dominance in the scrum; Stroud turned the screw. Hoyle returned in place of Brookes and orchestrated a series of phases dominated by forward carries. Firstly, Stratton then Smith and Fruin carried well beyond the gain line before Hendry and Owen attacked in wider channels. Hoyle spotted a gap and darted through before the forwards took over with Allen picking and driving before Stratton picked and powered over for the bonus point score. Hester converted. 28-13.