clifton v cheltenham
U15s progress to County Cup semi-final
We advanced into the semi-final of the Gloucester Cup beating a tough Cheltenham side 36-5.
This wasn’t a pushover against Cheltenham as the result might suggest. Nor did we think it would be.
We struggled to gain structure to our game in the first half, which wasn’t surprising given the unfamiliar line-up.
(For the record, nine players were absent from the squad and a reshuffle in the backs due to both scrum-halfs being out was compounded by flyhalf Hugo’s withdrawal just before kick-off with sickness. To top it all off we lost Monty early on to leave with us with just two subs).
After a real battle the game still felt in the balance at halftime with us leading just 12-0 and about to play into a strong wind.
They were generally able to outpower us in the mauls with better body positions and greater numbers. Something to work on there.
We did, however, hold our own in the scrums while the lineouts worked well with hookers Ollie and then Grubby throwing in accurately despite the windy conditions.
Our first try came from Sam C – playing at flyhalf – who stormed over from 5m out after a couple of good phases. Elliot converted.
Ryley, who carried very well all game, then scored from the 22 after a lineout to put us 12-0 up.
We held out against massive forwards pressure on our line in the final minutes of the first half in what was a very important stand.
Into the second half Cheltenham again got good field position and their ascendancy at the mauls paid off as they drove us over to make the score 12-5.
Worrying moments – but, in fact, that was the last score we would concede.
Our backs – who defended excellently - now got more into the game and put together some great counter-attacks using the width of the pitch and showing good pace and handling.
Sam C got in on the try-scoring act again with a blistering 50m break to go over, making the score 17-5.
More good back interplay then put us on their tryline and after a series of white-line-fever lunges by our forwards – blissfully unaware of the huge overlap we had out wide – Louis thankfully crossed for our fourth try.
Then came a truly spectacular break from 70m out by Sam C. He showed that carrying the ball in two hands really does work as he bamboozled a string of defenders with dummies and then used his gas to eventually find himself with no one in front of him.
At this point – with 30m still to go to the tryline – Sam C chose to pass to Matt. He was either tired or owed Matt a favour.
Either way Matt gratefully accepted the pass and scorched over, dotting down behind the posts to make the conversion straightforward for Elliot (whose place kicking was excellent all day). He duly slotted over the conversion for a 29-5 lead.
The scoring wasn’t over. Sam S was to show his 0-60 pace too. I can’t remember how he ended up with the ball, but from some 40m out he ran a gun-barrel straight line down the touchline, outstripping all the defence to go over
An impressive conversion from Elliot left the final score at 36-5.