Clifton Nomads 41 Cotham Park 7
Saturday 11th saw the first return fixture of the season when Clifton's 4th XV "The Nomads" hosted Cotham Park at home base.
With all 4 senior sides playing it always provides an opportunity for debuts and this game was no exception with at least 3 players making their first starts in senior rugby.
The day started in usual fashion with a few stalwarts arriving early (45 minutes to kick off) and then marvelling at the opposition who were already in kit and 'warming up'. The other benefit of course to being punctual is the opportunity to learn all about Ross' boot size - on case you missed it it's 10 and a half.
Given the preceding weather, the pitch was in good nick and with the arrival of a few more willing bodies it was time to hit the changing rooms - once we managed to guess the combination.
What a mass of post-Christmas flesh that turned out to be! We really do need to think about larger jerseys if this trend is to continue, especially with wider neck holes to accommodate beard passage (you know who you are). With a trailing fog of Ralgex vapour, Old Spice & determination The Nomads took the field.
The visitors had loudly shared their intentions at the match just off Beggar Bush Lane in the early season but had some come to realise they weren't strong enough in the pack and we expected them to try and be a bit more expansive on this return fixture. There were a couple of familiar-ish faces in the opposition and a few players highlighted as potentially useful (some disappointment was expressed however that a New Year Alexander brothers punch up had been avoided).
The ref explained that he missed the briefing earlier in the week about non-verbal communication to the scrum half and would be happy to keep to "Oy, put it in" or some such audio cue. On this occasion, our scrum half was Sam Boyland and being a teenager needs very little encouragement to put it in whenever and wherever.
Straight from the kick off it was obvious that Scotty didn't have his usual sticky palms and a couple of scrums were conceded - as it turned out this was never a problem as Cotham Park had taken a New Year Resolution not to push at the scrum. Despite the fact that the Nomads pack were "playing like ###t", "not woken up yet" and "using the scrum for a little rest" there was no real contest and much frustration that we seemed unable to walk it on more frequently than we did.
Excellent skippering by Martin included such gems as "stop ####ing about! You can muck about when you're playing better!" - this seemed to work though in as much as the team ignored him and won anyway.
This platform secured ball however and did allow the centres to run some lovely lines and a few tries soon followed. Cotham did their best to disrupt at the breakdown and turned over the ball a number of times. Credit has to go to their line speed and aggression at the ruck and it was an area The Nomads were slow to adjust for.
Leading to nil at half time the match looked like only going in Clifton's direction and it was the late second half change to uncontested scrums which gave Cotham Park their only opportunity to score.
The second half's highlight came about over a disputed forward pass between the flanker (Boyland senior) and the scrum half (Boyland junior). Whomever was to blame the ensuing handbags was hilarious.
With all 4 senior teams playing it was great to get a whole game and the chance to write this bumpf - cheers boys :)
With tries from Rob Viol (2), Ross, Sam Boyland (2), Tom and Chris Kay and 3 successful conversions by Ryan the game finished 41-7.