Clifton v Chippenham
Clifton march on
Chippenham came to Clifton on Sunday boasting an 18-month unbeaten run, which included a 7-7 draw against us last season in the Combination Cup.
It was a good chance therefore for us to measure our progress since then, in particular in the backline.
Chippenham’s warm-up was worringly impressive, especially their backs, and we were prepared for a big kicking display from their strong fly-half.
Our warm-up by contrast was in truth a bit sluggish added to which we were missing several players through injury and one or two were a bit battered and bruised after a week of Bristol development sessions.
However, we began the game with perhaps our best try of the season.
Receiving the kick-off we went through several forwards phases which came straight off the training ground and then spun the ball down the backline for Sam C to score with another superb finish.
The game didn’t reach the same heights after that, with many breakdown penalties making it a scrappy affair with neither team gaining any fluency.
Our second try came from a 5m scrum, with the ball being moved quickly to Matt at inside centre and he ghosted through to score untouched.
We led 12-0 at half-time, and probably should have led by more had we converted the opportunities that we had created.
As ever, when you don’t take your chances it can prove costly.
Sure enough Chippenham got themselves back into the game with an interception try when their fly-half made the most of being on the blind side of the referee at a ruck to steal up on our backs. That left the score 12-7.
Chippenham showed great defensive resolve, and their full-back prevented several tries from Sam C with fingertip grabs on his shirt.
Our defence, too, was tested at times when they kept the ball in hand and threatened to break through.
We held firm, however, and began to assert ourselves late in the game.
There was a critical moment with just a few minutes to go when we won a penalty on their 22. It was an easy kick for goal and would have put us two scores ahead.
But captain for the day Riley chose to go for the try instead, and after a few forward drives he got his reward when he drove over for a five-pointer. Elliott’s conversion made the final score 19-7.
This was a very good win with good performances from every member of the squad. Tom Sims made many powerful carries and fine off-loads, Dougie was excellent in his second row work and Sam S was secure out on the wing under great pressure from their fly-half's kicks.
A good boost for the confidence with three cup games coming up.