Stroud 41 Avonmouth Old Boys 27

KURTIS HERBERT bagged a hat-trick for Stroud as a large and vociferous crowd enjoyed a scintillating game of rugby, writes Sean Moore.

Avonmouth had a robust pack, two slick and inventive half-backs, two powerful, direct centres and a pacey back three. From the outset they took the game to Stroud in a confident manner and only a great cover tackle by Joe Owen saved a certain try in the corner. Shortly afterwards however, the other Avonmouth wing went over after prolonged pressure, 0-5. Game on.

Stroud’s riposte was amazing. The talismanic Stuart Hendry took a kick in his own half and set off in a direct line to the opposition posts. He beat four or five players with a mixture of speed, strength and deception and the use of his jackhammer hand-off. Hester converted, 7-5.

Stroud kept up the pressure and the scrummaging was first class and ball retention was very good. Hester kicked a penalty to the corner. This set up Stroud for a series of driving mauls which eventually led to quick ball being fed out. Kurtis Herbert took the ball on the burst and scorched over the line, 12-5.

Avonmouth narrowed the gap with a penalty, 12-8, but soon Herbert was able to score his second try in a similar vein, bravely cutting through a determined Avonmouth defence to score near the posts. Hester converted, 19-8.

Avonmouth threes were looking dangerous whenever they had the ball but Stroud’s tackling was outstanding. Sam Leworthy took a lot of heavy hits but invariably stopped the attacker. Avonmouth were close to scoring when the ball was kicked through but an alert Pete Sykes just managed to kick the ball dead. Stroud gained possession in the Avonmouth 22 and good drives, particularly by Stratton and Hendry, won good ground and the pack were able to rumble over the line with Joe Owen scoring the try. Hester converted, 26-8. Just before the break Avonmouth scored in the corner although Jordan Phipps was close to making a vital interception, 26-13.

Following the break Stroud kicked off and the ball was secured with a great leap by Joe Owen who showed great energy and commitment throughout the game, as did his fellow rookie Tom Quainton. Avonmouth maintained their attacking mode and eventually gained a converted try bringing the score worryingly close, 26-20. Stroud recognized the danger and went for goal when awarded a penalty, kicked by Hester, 29-20. Following a great take by Ben Stephens the back row made ground which enabled the supporting Joe Hoyle to scamper thirty metres, diving over the line in some style, tinged with exhaustion. Hester converted, 36-20.

Stroud rang the changes and Tommy Allen came on, making his customary impact in scrums and rucks. Luke Peer slotted seamlessly into the threes showing deft passing skills.

Stroud’s final try followed some slick interpassing which saw Kurtis Herbert eventually blocked by three opponents. He neatly grub kicked through, regained the ball and went over in the corner, 41-20. Avonmouth fought until the end and secured a final score in the closing minutes, 41-27.

All in all this was a fabulous match with some memorable tries. This was not an easy match but Stroud showed that they can play inventive, open rugby and their fitness levels allow them to contest over the full eighty minutes. Next week Stroud return to Coney Hill.