Conditions at Fortress Hallen were perfect for the rugby Es like to play, dry, mild and with no wind. Frampton, based on their results so far, look to be one of the better sides in Gloucester Premier, so the result would be a good indication of where we are.
A sizeable crowd, partly due to a Former Players lunch lined the pitch ready to give vocal support to the OEs.
From the first scrum, the new look front row combination of Alfie Hill, Greg Foord and James Brooke won a scrum penalty on Frampton’s 10 metre line. Es went for the corner; unfortunately Frampton frustrated the Es line out with a clearance kick relieving the pressure. A flowing move saw Frampton passing the ball well from left to right, to score a good unconverted try in the corner, so, after 15 minutes 0-5.
From the restart, weak defence allowed Frampton a 7 pointer try, under the posts, 0-12.
Es were scrummaging well, assisted by a strong drive from the engine room of Dom Horn and Adam Skyner, who are looking an effective second row pairing. From a midfield scrum, swift hands released Ben Barnett, a surge of pace and couple of hand offs, and Ben was in at the corner, superbly converted by scrum half Sam Hygate, who looked comfortable throughout, in a new half back pairing of himself and Will Appleton. So, after 22 minutes, 7-12.
From an Es drop out, Frampton fielded the ball and somehow ran through for another 7 point try, under the posts, so, 7-19 to Frampton. Es continued to press, and won a penalty 35 metres out, converted by Hygate, so, 10–19.
Frampton conceded another penalty on their 10 metre line. Hygate thought about the kick to goal, Frampton made his mind up after backchat to the ref had him marching them back another 10 metres, and the penalty kicked to claw back another 3 points, 13-19.
The half seemed to be dragging, despite no notable stoppages. In the 59th minute Frampton conceded yet another penalty, probably just out of range, however they hadn’t learned their lesson, that this ref is a stickler for backchat, and got marched back another 10 metres, enabling Hygate to bag another 3 points, 16-19, at half time.
The second half became rather a scrappy affair, with most play taking place outside of the 22s. Es made some changes, Matt Carr coming on at fullback for the hard running Dai Treharne, Rob Lee and Pat Dore also joining the fray. The industrious Rhys Edwards was yellow carded due to some misdemeanour at the breakdown. More Es’ pressure in midfield forced a penalty from Frampton who were unable to control their frustration, or tongues, and duly conceded yet another 10 metres from the no nonsense referee. Hygate needed no second invitation and calmly slotted the kick to level the scores, 19-19.
With 5 minutes to go. Frampton went on the attack, Es soaking up the pressure, forcing a knock on, scrum, with the ball kicked dead to end the match.
So, an almost fortuitous 2 points, however Es took their chances, and fought back from 7-19 down. Frampton will feel aggrieved with the referee, however they only had themselves to blame for their indiscipline. Es will need to tighten up their defence, and concentration, having conceded a couple of soft tries. Es are around mid table, played 4, won 1, drawn 1 and lost 2. (See the latest Table below) However, Es have played probably the two strongest sides, Clifton and Dings, away, and Frampton have had some good results.
The Gloucester Premier table is misleading; Bristol Saracens are third, even though Clifton put 83 points on them. Next week sees Es travel away to bottom of the table side Hucclecote. The coaches and supporters will be expecting a 5 pointer. Come on you Es! - Maybe pre match communication about how the referee ‘Barton His Bob’ didn’t like Back Chat worked out well for Old Es!