St Brendans v Clifton U15s
Bragging rights for Clifton U15s
We won this derby match against St Brendan’s by an emphatic nine tries to two, but that stat doesn’t reflect the real nature of the match.
Big wins last season were often dominated by our powerful forwards, but Brendan’s gave us a physical contest and this forced us to string together phases and get the ball through the hands to wider channels.
We saw the progress we’ve been making his season in that in our all round game there was more of a balance between the forwards and the backs.
In fact, six of the nine tries were scored by backs – five by wingers - showing we are beginning to play with width.
It helped that the conditions were excellent for running rugby, with the game being played on a big, firm pitch in view of the River Avon just off the Portway.
And the tide was certainly with us at the start as it took just a couple of minutes for us to register our first try, one straight off the training pitch.
It seems that we’ve been waiting several years for a backs move to come off and this was a gem. Sam Read cut a fantastic line to take an inside pass off Matt, and a huge gap opened up in front of him. He burst through and ran from the halfway line to dot down.
Sam Costley then showed what an outstanding asset he will be for us this season by scoring the first of his hat-trick before a great finish from Owen that took us to a 19-0 lead with two conversions from Elliot.
Owen had received the ball out wide on the left wing and made an intelligent cut back inside to avoid the touchline, then showed pace and power to get past three defenders to score to a rousing reception.
Herbie, who had come on at No.8, then charged away from a breakdown to score from a creditable 5 metres as he drove through defenders. Elliot’s conversion made it 24-0 and we were looking comfortable.
At this point a few changes were made in the backline to try out new combinations and Brendan’s exposed our subsequent lack of defensive organisation to score two very good tries down the wing.
So at halftime the score was 24-12 and our positive mood was beginning to ebb away. It was time to turn the ship around.
A further reshuffle in the backs enabled us to regain the upper hand, and a moment of triumph came for Sam Sproule on the left wing.
Motivated by being bundled into touch at the end of the first half, Sam received the ball once more out on the touchline and this time ‘did an Owen’ by cutting back inside and shrugging off several players to find himself in the clear with 35 metres to the line.
The beaten players gave chase. But an incredibly determined Sam wasn’t going to allow these schoolmates to have bragging rights on Monday morning and he raced away to the line for a try that the head coach will be able to relive with pride over several pints of Thatchers down the Duck on a winter’s night.
Sam C scorched away for a further two while Dom and Riley ensured the forwards were on the score sheet too.
Riley’s try was especially memorable for the improbable sound effects as he built up a head of steam bullocking his way through half of the opposition. It coincided perfectly with a train running down the nearby railway track – and incredibly it sounded its horn just as Riley drove over the line. Bizarre, and an early contender for champagne moment of the year.
There would have been another try for the forwards as Callum made an excellent run to cross the line, but then things didn’t quite go to plan. His dad, former Scotland prop and RFU coach Dave Hilton, said he would be happy to talk about what happened next any time you catch him in the bar.
And so it finished 57-12. Congratulations to the boys who showed good composure when the chips were down for a while and when decisions weren’t going as they would have liked.
Sunday will see us take on Chepstow at home, a side with a very strong reputation. We'll need a big performance from the whole squad.