Cleobury Mortimer 0 – 42 Bloxwich
It was with trepidation that a Bloxwich squad set off to a notoriously barren hunting ground. With a squad depleted by work commitments and the imminent births of several offspring a hard afternoon was expected.
In glorious sunshine and with a strong wind behind them Bloxwich received the kick only to knock on and give Cleobury field position and possession. After a five minute period of pressure Bloxwich earned a penalty and Bowater cleared with a 60 yard clearance kick. From the ensuing line out the Cleobury forwards shot offside only for the resulting penalty to be missed. The drop out was taken cleanly and the Bloxwich backs spread the ball wide, possession was recycled at speed and the ball returned to the opposite wing, a sure fire try for Thomas was denied by a crunching tackle as he dived for the corner. Cleobury misdirected the throw at the lineout, Bowater collected the loose ball and crashed over for the first points of the afternoon.
The following period of play was stop start, Bloxwich missed a penalty and pressed the Cleobury line. On 22 minutes the Bloxwich scrum stole a Cleobury ball with an overlap beckoning centre Maclean chose to kick across field to the corner for Bottomer to tower over his opposite number and ground try number two.
In the 33rd minute another flowing passage of play drew a penalty which was quickly taken a dancing run by second row Greenwood and good support play from the backs freed scrum half Parkes to cross in the corner.
Cleobury enjoyed the best of the remainder of the first half having a forward drive held up over the line. Bloxwich once again took possession at the scrum and cleared the ball to end the half 15 points up.
Expecting the home side to make good use of the wind and keep the visitors contained the Bloxwich side prepared to kick off. The sun continued to shine and the wind disappeared!
The kick off went deep and Cleobury went off their feet at the breakdown, Palmer slotted the penalty 18-0. Bloxwich showed a complete game with bullocking runs and superb support play from the forwards and quick hands from the backs this opened up the home sides defence time and time again. In the 47th minute A drive from a lineout set a platform to create space and an unknown Bloxwich player(answers on a postcard please, must have been the excitement of earning a try bonus point) crossed for the fourth try. Palmer added the conversion, 25-0.
The next 10 minutes were the worst of the match with neither side managing to string any semblance of rugby together. An interception by Palmer deep in his own half looked like a sure fire break away try but a scampering home defence closed him down, a superb inside pass under pressure freed Danny Hough to gallop in under the posts, Palmer slotted the extras.
With so many tries coming from open play, quick hands and all round support play it was satisfying to see the sixth come from good old fashioned forward dominance. A lineout on the 22 was driven over the line, Bowater the beneficiary of his packs efforts, 37-0 and five minutes to play.
In frivolous mood the Bloxwich team continued to spread the ball wide and it to the credit of the home side that they continued to defend their line with vigour. In the final minute and unable to break down the defence Bloxwich once again opted for the cross field kick, Gareth Maclean leapt like a salmon to collect the kick and as he landed offloaded to Thacker who crossed for a debut try and the final score of the afternoon.
This was a superb all round team performance with every player contributing to the 42-0 victory. Special mention should go to hooker Josh Connolly who took 8 against the head on his first team debut. The next game for the first team is at home to Eccleshall on Saturday 6th October where hopefully we can build on this result.