It’s difficult to remember when we had last played Avonmouth and for many years they had been loitering in Leagues above us but perhaps to some extent have fallen on hard times so had been relegated last year to be in our league and hence the first match between the two for many a year.
1st XV SQUAD: Greg Foord, Henry Oughton, Jack Houlder, Tom Bendall, Ben Charlton, Henry Kirkpatrick, Fred Thefaut, Fergus Blyth, Sam Hygate, Matt Carr, Tobias Burden, Alex Lee, Alex Potts (C), Tom Cole, Stephen Terera, James Brooke, Dougal Broom and Arthur Mills.
A damp afternoon with a strong cross field breeze greeted the two teams. Both teams having had good results recently the conditions would potentially play a big part in deciding the outcome, however it was probably another factor that would ultimately determine the winners.
Es started well and within the first 5 minutes Tobias Burden promisingly sprinted down the left wing with a big hand off in the face of his opposite winger, but then something happened the result of which the Avonmouth No.12 had to leave the pitch injured. Es line out was functioning well as it did all game and although the scrum wasn’t as great the safe hands of Ben Charlton at No.8 ensured Es enjoyed some good ball from the base of the scrum giving scrum half Sam Hygate more room to set the backs off running.
After 15 minutes a second Avonmouth player was replaced due to injury whilst Es were certainly having the best of the ball and territory. The score remained at 0-0 until about 31 minutes when a missed tackle let Avonmouth through for a converted try (7-0).
The best response in rugby is to hit straight back and that is what Es effectively did through a good try from Alex Potts beating about 8 players in the process, and a solid conversion from Sam Hygate drew the scores level (7-7).
Es’ winger, Tom Cole, was then replaced through injury by debutant Arthur Mills who had a real first game for the club. The last few minutes of the first half were scrappy but Es’ defence was standing firm with a notable high ball catch and mark from Stephen Terera. The other highlight of the first half was a try saving tap tackle from Jack Houlder.
Half Time Score (7-7)
The first minutes of the second half were very much topsy turvy with neither side looking like stamping their authority. Es were again probably enjoying the most possession but not really breaking the Avonmouth defensive line. Avonmouth then came on strongly and but for a knock on over the line would have taken the lead again.
What happened next probably decided the game when a hand bags scuffle on the pitch side saw the referee issue three, yes three yellow cards, all to Avonmouth players.
The scrums then became uncontested (rightly or wrongly) and the first of which saw Es use their superior numerical three quarters move the ball wide to winger Tobias Burden who broke through to score with Sam Hygate adding the extras (7-14).
Es should have applied more pressure moments after the restart but lost the line out in the Avonmouth 22 but moments later, with the ten minute yellow card clock ticking, saw Arthur Mills on the other wing run through, bounce through a tackle and score but the referee ruled it out for something like ’Not Releasing’ whereas it had looked like a perfectly good score!!
Once again another attack that should have led to a try broke down as Avonmouth scrabbled to defend their line. They kicked to clear their lines but a good touchline catch by Es No.10 Matt Carr allowed him to pop the ball up to Fred Thefaut who ran from the 22 to score by the left hand upright with Sam Hygate again adding the 2 points (7-21).
The three yellow carded Avonmouth players then returned to the field of play and Es seemed to switch off a bit and despite a good clearance kick by Jack Houlder and tackles from Fred Thefaut, Avonmouth took advantage of Es backing off and scored a deserved try, not converted (12-21).
Arthur Mills then had another good run for Es, and the ensuing play saw a high tackle on an Es player in front the posts and sensibly Sam Hygate took the three points on offer to expand the lead (12-24).
The tackle of the game came from Alex Lee stopping the Avonmouth player in his tracks with a heavy thud, but again Es came away from the Avonmouth 22 with nothing to show for it.
Another spirited Avonmouth attack saw them further claw back the scoreline with a converted try to (19-24)
But this was the last score and Es held on for a third victory in a row.
In conclusion this was not the best Es performance and it was a very scrappy game, not really a spectacle for the visiting supporters but Es had dominated large parts of the game and ground out a well-deserved result which sees them move to 4th in the league. Well done lads keep up the good work.
There is no game next week, but on 2nd December many of us will be at Fortress Hallen to cheer on Es against Table Toppers Dings Crusaders II XV.
FINAL SCORE: Avonmouth Old Boys 19 – 24 Old Elizabethans
Man of the Match: Fred Thefaut - another impressive game from this youngster who doesn’t stop running, never gives up and is a real asset to Old Es.
Tries: Alex Potts, Tobias Burden, Fred Thefaut,
Conversions: Sam Hygate (3)
Penalties: Sam Hygate
Full Table and Fixture List below
Report by: Paul ‘Blakey’ Barrington
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