Chepstow Match Report
After a week's rest for some of the team ambling round Dartmoor, it was back to business this week and with the fixture schedule set to test us with St Mary's, Dursley and Painswick to follow, the re-match with Chepstow was a perfect game to focus the minds.
With the previous encounter testing both sides cool, our focus was on discipline. Additionally, ahead of the Mary's game, we wanted to ensure we could keep the ball for long periods, bring our forward runners coming round the corner in waves and essentially bore the opposition.
Last week's scratched ankle was clearly contagious and rising... Jacob passed it on to Will, who suffered mid-thigh trouble, on to Sam K with a tight hamstring and I don't know what they get up to at Colstons these days, but Billy was the latest to suffer the affliction. I couldn't possibly divulge any medical confidentiality, but judging from the rubber ring he has to sit on........... anyway both Westy and Will Lang were ecstatic about the opportunity of playing front row! Fortunately, as Chepstow were short on numbers, they needed to go uncontested in the scrum.
Our plan was in place, but it didn't quite work like that... Clifton received, against the wind and watched the ball bounce into touch (déjà vu). Chepstow secured the lineout and Clifton were lucky when they infringed at the breakdown, being awarded a penalty to relieve the pressure. The kick was rushed, we made little ground and the pressure remained. However, Clifton worked the breakdown very hard, with both Jamie and Jacob clearing out any would be jacklers. With that, we managed to secure some possession and hit the game plan.
With guaranteed scrum ball, keeping the game tight, we fed Jude who cut some good lines, stepping inside his man. Ball recycled by the pair of ferrets and 2nd phase ball from Elliot found Eddie, who made good ground. With Westy fresh from a rest at the scrum, he hit round the right hand side of the breakdown, making ground upfield. The ball was then recycled left and after three phases, the defence was well stretched. Quick ball again and Westy was down the left flank to score in the corner. Patience and working through the phases - simple stuff. With the wind against the kicker, it looked an improbable one.... that is unless you're keen to impress, really keen to impress... not your parents, not your team mates or coaches... but a female admirer... Kick sailed over, Clifton up 7-0.... Whoever she is Westy, make sure she comes to support at Mary's!
From the restart, looked like Jacob needed a rest as after catching the ball, he had a quick lie down... He lulled Chepstow into a false sense of security, before springing back to his feet and making good ground. Same field position, same strategy and Ryan came round the corner. Clearly frustrated by his impending trip to North Wales, he smashed into the first tackler before being brought down. It looked like a pretty nasty collision and we hope the Chepstow player doesn't feel too groggy. Chepstow then brought on their one and only replacement. Scrum ball, and with Gil distributing well at 10, it wasn't long before we sent Jude up the middle. His line and pace was again too much for the Chepstow backs and stepping a few more players our captain was under the posts. It was a sitter for Westy, who now needed to look ultra cool. Laid back, he nonchalantly stepped up, a lazy swing of the leg and then proceeded to put the ball wide.... Clifton 12-0.
Time to shift up a gear and mid way through the first half we brought Matt C on at 9. There's some confusion on the next score... some say it was a driving maul from 3 yards, but according to interested parties, Scot took the ball virtually on his dead ball line. Under extreme pressure from the oncoming defenders, he feigned to kick before stepping back in field. Dummying the fly half before bouncing the 12 and outpacing the other outside backs, he was up to the half way, with only the full back to beat. He subtly put the ball behind his back, before heel kicking it over his head and the full back to race clear to the line. All that was left to do was a huge swallow dive, touch down and a robotic dance celebration to the fans. Harry took over the kicking duties and despite a decent effort, narrowly missed. Clifton 17-0. Alternative versions record Alex having outpaced and stepped the defence before racing down the left touchline with Scot actually getting on the end of it after a few more breakdowns, but these reports can't be confirmed!
With a bruising encounter, Chepstow lost further players and we stepped down to 14 players each. From the kick off, the ball was spread wide quickly to give Isaac some real space. One on one with the winger, he arced his run to beat the man before his second one on one with the full back. In-out with the foot work, he planted his man to race to the corner for a brilliant individual score that would make Scotty proud! Kick missed for a change and Clifton were 22-0 up at the break.
The strategy had worked and despite a pretty dull game plan, we had bored Chepstow completely out of the game. Our work at the breakdown was excellent and we had won all but one lineout. With a simple strategy and looking after the ball, handling errors were minimal and as such we had enjoyed 85% of the possession. Missed tackles at half time : zero. Our strategy in our own 22 and the middle third had been excellent, although we had been guilty of some selfish play in the execution zone with a handful of opportunities gone begging.
The Second half turned out to be a little like Friday nights pig racing.... a bit fluffy and not quite the real thing. Chepstow suffered further injuries and by mid way through the half they were down to 11 men. With the snow now starting to come down, their coach was rightly considering calling it a day, but to the credit of the Chepstow players, they were keen to carry on. Their captain points out that they'd come here to play rugby and regardless of the score line, that's what they were going to do... For his sportsmanship he earned himself their man of the match award.
Despite an early second half score from Jack, who was keen to impress, with a host of changes and the game losing its shape, Clifton fell off the pace. Credit to Chepstow who kept on going and with some sloppier tackling (10 missed tackles in the half) they were able to cross for 2 tries, taking the final score to 27-12.
Job done, but being picky, with the possession we had and an improved execution in the final zone, we should have scored another 3 tries. Better goal kicking and maintaining our defensive pressure should have seen a 40 point victory against a depleted Chepstow side.