Once again, in this new 'Counties 2 Tribute Glos South league' Es were to face a team that we had not played for many years in the shape of Bream RFC. As mentioned last week Bream RFC were sitting in third place in the league on equal points/equal wins as Old Es but Es with a greater points difference! So, 2nd vs 3rd was going to make this an almighty test for Es and there is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly how it panned out.
It was a warm, sunny unseasonal November day with perfect conditions for both teams. Fortress Hallen welcomed a really good level of travelling supporters a couple of whom feature a bit later in this report! There was a minute's silence observed prior to the start for Remembrance Day.
1st XV SQUAD: George Burnie, Jack Houlder, Lucas Sadler, Dom Horn, Matt Hudson, Rhys Edwards, Will Tobin, Rob Lee, Wil Patterson, Matt Carr, Pat Dore, Will Appleton, Sam Brewer, Luke Jagger, Tobias Burden, Greg Foord, Benji Wagstaffe, Alex Potts
MATCH REPORT: Es, facing the clubhouse for the first half started strongly and but for a narrowly forwarded pass were on to scoring a try in the first couple of minutes! But the early promise was rewarded very soon after with a clever kick through by Luke Jagger, Pat Dore gathered the ball and drove over for the first try, with Jagger adding the extras from the conversion, (7-0).
A moment of controversy then occurred as 'Frank' our resident linesman raised his flag (quite rightly for a Bream foot in touch) but rather than persisting with an otherwise oblivious referee Frank slowly lowered his flag. Not surprisingly the linesman duties were given over to Barrie Darby at half time! That might sound harsh but our dear Frank had not been well in the week and may have been suffering the after effects! We all wish you well Frank!
Wil Patterson making the starting line-up was here, there and everywhere as he tried to single handily frustrate Bream, and it was working, he was well and truly in their faces, and they didn't like it! A penalty was then awarded to Es about 35m out with the opportunity for Luke Jagger to increase the score but narrowly missed the uprights.
A fierce contest was emerging in all positions around the park but Es' defence was standing solid and soaked up a huge amount of pressure in the Es' 22 for about 10 minutes but how satisfying must that have felt for the players that Bream came away with nothing.
Somewhere, at this point in the game, but I missed it, apparently Matt Carr was shown a Yellow Card (not sure what for!), I must have been retrieving a ball from the hedge at the time. Once again, the set plays, both scrum and lineouts, were working well and providing Es with a good attacking base and indeed led to a great break from Sam Brewer and Luke Jagger who took Es out of their 22 almost up to the Bream 22. Indeed, Sam Brewer with his hard running was putting Bream on the back foot continuously but in fact it was through his speed of mind to latch onto an interception that saw him break through and score Es' second try, once again with Jagger adding the extra 2 points, (14-0).
Soon after Luke Jagger was able to make amends for his earlier penalty miss when he slotted a 22m kick through the posts, (17-0).
Bream continued to try to batter their way through but with some huge tackles from the likes of Wil Patterson and Will Appleton they were stopped in their tracks. Bream, nevertheless, continued to play good attacking rugby, but fortunately Es were able to clear their lines on a number of occasions notably through Jagger's boot and that of Tobias Burden. Es then looked as if they had unlocked Bream's defence with Sam Brewer and Will Tobin combining and but for a dropped pass looked like scoring. Es started to give the referee a hard time and the Referee on more than one occasion marched Es back 10m giving Bream the easy option of kicking to the corner. The back chat to the referee is certainly something that Es need to work on and rule out of their game! Anyway, a good and satisfying score line as the ref. blew for half time.
Half time score (17-0)
Very soon into the second half Es were awarded a penalty and a long range kick from Luke Jaggar sailed through the posts (20-0).
Coach, Sam Collins, then started to make some changes introducing Benji Wagstaffe for Matt Hudson. Es were punished again by the referee as they picked up their second Yellow Card of the day for Will Tobin this time! Despite being down to 14 men the Es defence stood strong in this titanic battle. An injury to Bream's No.8 saw him leave the field but they continued to press and were rewarded following an Es' knock on and despite a valiant effort by Es' forwards, Bream got themselves a push over scrum and conversion (20-7).
A good response was needed from Es and indeed from 1 to 15 everyone knuckled down and once again took the game to Bream. A good move saw the ball in Dom Horn's hands 22m out and he cut back in field like the 'Winger' he used to be and drove over for a great solo try. An easy conversion kick for Luke Jagger but nonetheless these extras are more than important (27-7).
It was at this point that Barrie Darby and I were behind the posts with two of Bream's followers (one the linesman) when we over heard them discussing our No.9 Wil Patterson. Whilst some of the language used cannot be repeated here the two guys were basically saying "what a horrible player Patty was at scrum half but that they would more than welcome him at Bream RFC", a good accolade! At the same time the Referee produced a Red Card for one of the Bream players who had apparently but unnecessarily put a knee into Dom Horn's back as Dom scored. You might have been forgiven for thinking that Bream's heads might drop at this point but nothing of the sort.
Es saw more changes from Coach Collins, Hudson back on for Horn, with Foord and Potts on for Houlder and Carr. Whilst Es' defence was standing firm, they again conceded 10m for back chat or something, further putting themselves under unnecessary pressure. It has to be said at this point that the Es defence from both forwards and backs was immense throughout the game.
At this point an ambulance turned up! I have to admit I hadn't appreciated the level of injury to the Bream player until this point - again due to retrieving balls from hedges and ditches! With 15 minutes to play the game was stopped as the ambulance accessed and parked on the pitch (Bream later confirmed their player was at home with a diagnosis of Concussion). We wished him well as a loud applause from supporters and players alike sounded as he left in the ambulance
More than 75% of the game had passed so the result would stand if the referee chose to abandon the game and to some extent and in hindsight it would probably have been better if the Referee had done this! However, after about 25 minutes at 1617 (it was getting dark) play resumed with Es wanting one more try for the bonus point and Bream needing two converted tries to get them a losing bonus point.
This latter part of the game was a bit of a farce, in my opinion, but anyway Bream probably had the better of the last 15 minutes which became very niggly and there were a number of skirmishes between the two teams, a few handbags thrown etc. However, the farcical bit came when the referee seemed to only want to punish Es, not to say that Es weren't at fault because to some extent we were, but he undoubtedly was listening to the Bream whinging.
Es continued to get stuck in with some good tackles from Rhys Edwards, Will Appleton and Greg Foord but the farce continued. First, he Yellow carded Matt Hudson, then Yellow carded Lucas Sadler before also showing Yellow to Luke Jagger so Es were down to 12 men but kept defending hard but conceding penalties left, right and centre until the Referee awarded Bream a Penalty Try and then blew the full-time whistle. A good win at (27-14), against strong opposition. It will be a difficult return fixture at their place.
Next week is a free weekend as things stand for Es 1st XV and so attention switches to Saturday 26 November when Es visit Lydney II team in the Forest! Although a weaker team in the league it is still a must win game in preparation for the return fixture vs Clifton II at Hallen on Saturday 3rd December. Let's keep the momentum going lads. C'mon Es!
FINAL SCORE: Old Elizabethans 27 – 14 Bream
Tries: Pat Dore, Sam Brewer, Dom Horn
Conversions: Luke Jagger (3),
Penalties: Luke Jagger (2)
Man of the Match: Sam Brewer - continually challenged and tested the opposition defence putting Es on the front foot!
Full Table and Fixture List below
Report by: Paul “Blakey” Barrington