This week Es once again crossed the Severn Estuary to take on Bream RFC. Still very much a top of the table clash, as despite Bream sitting in 6th position, they have 4 games in hand over Es and so this was rightly billed as one of the most important games of the season and if Es were to win, they would pretty much secure their 2nd place position in the Counties 2 Tribute Gloucestershire South League, and in the words of joint skipper Wil Patterson “A Day for the Es to conquer the entire Forest!”. However, a win for Bream would, in effect, give them hope of overtaking Es and reaching 2nd place if they win their 4 outstanding games. So, the scene was set for the dozen or so supporters who had made the journey to Bream and for the players knowing what was required.
1st XV SQUAD: Greg Foord, Matt Bailey, Jack Houlder, Adam Skyner, Rob Lee, Henry Kirkpatrick, George Burnie, Rhys Edwards, Sam Hygate, Will Appleton, Luke Jagger, Alex Potts, Pat Dore, George Evans, Matt Carr, Matt Hudson, Archie Walker, Angus Clifford
MATCH REPORT: A somewhat narrow pitch and a crossfield wind greeted Es at Bream RFC. Es started brightly and the scrum seemed to be challenging Bream's scrum pushing them backwards at the first couple of scrums. However, every time Bream spun the ball wide, they looked dangerous and several missed tackles on their No.15 saw Bream advance into the Es' 22. The Es' defensive line was so far holding up, and it needed to be, as Bream piled on the early pressure. Indeed, they should have scored from a lineout but were thwarted due to a knock on. Es cleared their lines and advanced into the Bream half, with Alex Potts and George Burnie combining well. Up to Bream's 22 and the ball was spun out to the right wing, players combining well, before Greg Foord made an excellent pick up before putting George Evans free to run in a good Es' try and Sam Hygate converted for Es to take a (0-7) lead.
Bream bounced straight back and with the Es' lineout not operating at all well they stole through to score a good try and conversion (7-7).
Es also responded well to this score but Bream's defence was knocking Es players backwards! After the recent run of easy victories Es were now having to fight for every bit of possession. After a good Es' scrum the ball was once again spun out to the right wing where George Evans narrowly avoided going into touch and with good support from Jack Houlder the ball was popped back inside where George Burnie snapped it up and ploughed over for a good Es' try and a further two points from scrum-half Sam Hygate (7-14).
Bream immediately attacked from the restart and a 10m scrum to Es was lost and Bream spun the ball wide but Es players snuffed out the attack into touch. A 5m lineout was followed by a 5m scrum before the Bream No.4 burst through to score also well converted (14-14).
Despite the scoreline Es were struggling for good platform both at the lineout and in the scrum and with tackles uncharacteristically being missed it was probably a relief that the score was level as the referee blew for half time.
Half Time score (14 – 14)
Matt Hudson and Angus Salisbury on for Greg Foord and Adam Skyner, but within minutes Jack Houlder was off seemingly injured for Foord to find his way back into the game. In hindsight the writing was on the wall very early in the second half as Bream spread the ball wide and scored only for the referee to penalise Bream for a clear holding back of an Es' player by tugging his shirt. Bream had stepped up a gear and it seemed as if Es had no answer for Bream's added aggression, powerful running and good ball handling, breaking tackles one after another before scoring a try out wide, well converted (21-14). They soon extended their lead with an easy penalty kick in front the posts (24-14).
Archie Walker on for Es but despite his introduction of fresh legs there was now only one team in it as Bream piled on the pressure time and time again. Their next score came after a winning lineout + conversion (31-14). I didn't have time to write anything more in my notebook before Bream scored a non-converted try (36-14). Es responded and were on the front foot in Bream's half for the first time in the second half thanks to good runs from skipper George Burnie and Archie Walker. A great break by Adam Skyner, pass to George Burnie who was stopped short just off the try line, the ball was shipped out wide and Henry Kirkpatrick slid in for a good but unconverted try (36-19).
Sometime in these sorts of games there reaches a point where one side's domination opens up the floodgates, something that Es had experienced against weaker opposition recently, but this time it was Es that were over-run and in total disarray with Bream running in three more tries from their three-quarters (2 converted) to end the game at (55-19).
This was a bad day at the office for Es, but they had lost to a stronger team who had wanted it more. It was tough on both players and supporters, but that's rugby and if the next game versus Lydney II doesn't happen it won't be until 11th March that Es have the chance to bounce back. With a few players carrying injuries this may give Es the chance to regroup and build towards a last league match of the season. A tricky fixture away to Bristol Saracens.
FINAL SCORE: Bream 55 – 19 Old Elizabethans
Tries: George Evans, George Burnie, Henry Kirkpatrick
Conversions: Sam Hygate (2)
Full Table and Fixture List below
Report by: Paul “Blakey” Barrington
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