Clifton U15s v Chepstow
This was a much-anticipated encounter against a side with quite a reputation from across the Bridge.
The boys had been spooking themselves with stories that Chepstow had been unbeaten for a whole season - and that grew to a winning streak that had lasted some several years by the Wednesday night training session before the game.
And the match didn’t disappoint. The early minutes were a real battle with both teams trying to gain the upperhand physically.
The deadlock was broken when we built some pressure in their 22 with a series of phases before a pick-and-go by Tom Sims, who drove over for a try converted by Elliott, who struck the ball sweetly off the tee throughout the game.
With growing confidence we made our way back to their 22 and looked to spin the ball wide for what looked a likely score.
But their backs had perhaps the fastest line speed of any team we have played, and they got their reward with an interception which despite a brave chase by Sam R resulted in a try. 7-5.
Undaunted and with a growing sense of belief we began to assert ourselves again. Good continuity then led to an excellent finish from Sam C, who was proving a real handful for their defence.
Half-time, with the game in the balance, and a huge challenge still on our hands. Just the kind of game we’d been hoping for.
The boys rose to the occasion with the best try of the game, showing superb handling before an outstanding finish from Sam C.
With little room to work with down the right wing he bumped off the first tackler and then outran several defenders to touch down. 19-5 after Elliott’s conversion.
We had our tails up and again launched an assault in their 22 with our forwards crashing into their defenders until Tom Sims breached their line from close range for a commanding 24-5 lead.
We then made a number of changes and tried players in their second positions, which we are trying to develop.
With new combinations we struggled to keep a grip on the game and they earned a scrum 5m from our line, from which their powerful No.8 smashed over, leaving the score 24-10. It gave them hope of a comeback.
We made a few switches in key positions and this enabled us to regain some control on the game.
More phases in their 22 brought a try for Matt and a conversion for a decisive 31-10 lead.
Our final score again followed multiple phases near their line with forwards pressing hard for a try before finally relinquishing the ball to the backs.
Hugo then made a magnificent dummy/sidestep to wrongfoot their whole backline and went over to make the final score 36-10.
This was a great performance and great to watch. Chepstow are up there with the best sides we’ve played, especially their forwards.
It shows the progress we've made from last season when we tended to get bogged down in forward battles in close games against the likes of Cleve and Chippenham. Now we're beginning to pose a threat through our backs as well, making us less predictable.
Every member of the squad put in a great shift. But I think special mention should go to George and Dom whose carries in open field so often changed the momentum of the game and provided a vital link between the forwards and backs.