Greg Foord, James Brooke, Alfie Hill, Dom Horn, Adam Skyner, Rhys Edwards, George Burnie, Will Tobin, Sam Hygate, Will Appleton, Luke Jagger, Alex Potts, Ben Barnett, Pat Dore, Matt Carr, Jack Houlder, Sam Brewer, Louis Bothamley.
After a narrow defeat by one point whilst on the road to Old Cryptians last weekend the 1st XV took the road to the furthest club in our league, Ross-on-Wye RFC with a warning ringing in our ears that although the opposition are currently standing at bottom of the league, in no way should we take this for granted and assume a win.
Of course Storm Arwyn was sure to have its impact on both players and supporters alike. A big thanks to those who took the one hour journey to Ross-on-Wye to be battered by the weather whilst supporting the 1st XV in what would prove to be a difficult encounter. So thanks to Dave Langdon, Roger Edwards, Frank, Blakey, Andy Tobin, Andy/Mike & Nick Brook + others I may have missed (sorry!). Also big thanks to those who braved the conditions and supported the Thundercats game in Southmead.
A very strong cold wind was blowing across the pitch and the team that best adapted to the conditions would surely enjoy success. Indeed early success went the way of Ross who settled into the game much quicker than Es and within the first five minutes took the lead with a scrum attack following a penalty 5m out (5-0).
Es tried to respond quickly but through penalties given away and mistakes, found it difficult to get a real foothold in the game. Both sides were trying to counteract the wind with different line-out moves but this part of the game was a real lottery for both teams. Sam Hygate was then taken off with a knee injury and Louis Bothamley came in at fullback with a reorganisation in the backs.
A quick penalty by Alex Potts and Alfie Hill made good progress toward the try line. Play was brought back due to a high tackle and Es kicked to the corner and through persistence Es found their way back into the game with a strong run and touchdown from James Brooke, (2nd try in two weeks) not converted (5-5).
Soon after the restart Es tried to break out from their 22m line and a looping pass was easily intercepted giving Ross a converted try probably against the run of play (12-5).
Despite a number of good solo efforts the Es' team was not firing on all cylinders and a close call ended with a dropped pass with the try line begging! Frustration for the players and the following support as Half Time quickly came! (12-5).
Sam Brewer was then introduced for Alex Potts but the initial exchanges in the second half certainly didn't go Es way and Ross were bullying us in close quarters. Will Appleton following a blow to the head was then replaced by Alex Potts at scrum half. Soon after the former skipper, Alex Potts, won the ball and Sam Brewer was put through the Ross defence and sprinted all the way to touch down for a try to give Es a chance of drawing level but the resultant place kick was blown off course and hit the upright (12-10).
Of course the high winds and the cold being felt by both supporters and players was having an impact on the game albeit the conditions were the same for both teams, but as already intimated Ross seemed to be coping better with it and the crowd started to think the unthinkable! However Alex Potts was dragging Es back into the game with a strong performance and after a good run out of defence and a good steal by Will Tobin play broke down again and Matt Carr put in a try saving tackle but then Es quickly found themselves back up the other end again and a quick move was finished off by Matt Carr in the far corner. Luke Jagger then despite the swirling wind drove a fantastic place kick through the uprights to put Es in front for the first time (12-17).
Louis Bothamley then had a snaking run and put Ross on the back foot again, a great tackle by Jack Houlder and a second Yellow Card for Ross kept them under pressure which led to a good try by Louis Bothamley and an even better place kick by Jagger (12-24).
Es were now enjoying their best spell of the game and following further good work from Potts, Bothamley and Burnie, Pat Dore found himself with two players to beat stepped inside the first defender and drove over for a further converted try (12-31) and this is how the game finished.
A difficult game where Es for long spells didn't seem to have an answer to Ross' enthusiasm and hard work. Persistence, though, paid off and with a good team performance where everyone dug deep in the final third of the game. Es had gained a good bonus point away victory maintaining 6th position in the league.
Coach Heiny's Man of the Match: Louis Bothamley; coming on after about 5/10 minutes as an injury replacement Louis strutted his funky stuff and eventually got just reward with a good try.
Supporters MoM: Alex Potts - above all Alex's positivity pulled Es back into this game. His strength, leadership and experience were vital as Es came from behind.
Next week sees Es entertain Old Richians at home, why not come and support? 2.30pm kick off at Hallen.
Paul “Blakey” Barrington
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