Chew Valley cope with a series of injuries to overcome Cheltenham
A welcome back game for Tom Bryan, filled with injuries and replacements.
Chew Valley 1XV, 31 - Cheltenham, 12
Despite having the bigger pack and some lively backs Cheltenham lacked the organisation and discipline to seriously trouble Chew Valley. A yellow card in each half did not help the visitors cause, and although Chew Valley did not score with the man advantage, the extra defensive duties took their toll as the team tired. Scrum half, Ben Mead, fed skipper and No 8, Alex Cox, with an inside slip pass of a ruck 5 metres out for the first try after 6 minutes, converted by hooker, Reg Parfitt.
Cheltenham then had their best spell and player/coach, Jack Patello, barreled over from 4 metres after a series of carries by his forwards on 15 minutes. Centre, Brad Harris, hit the post with the conversion. Chew Valley then suffered a series of injuries, which eventually saw 7 of their 8 available changes forced. Second row, Ross Elliott and hooker, Parfitt, both suffered shoulder injuries and a knock to Reece Carter, in the centre, saw Tom Bryan back in action for the first time since February, and it was his delayed pass that gave Joe Webb, on the wing, the space to make the corner on 22 minutes. A quickly taken penalty by Mead gave him the edge to beat 6 defenders on a darting run to the line and Alex Cox a break direct from the restart, which could have led to the bonus point try, but for a five man overlap butchered these chances with the ball going to ground just before the break.
The visiting team had the better of the early exchanges in the second half, before fly half, Tom Uddles, saw yellow for lazy running across the scrum half and passing line close to a ruck. A trademark Bryan break from the 22 at his favoured fullback position gave winger, Harry Stride, half a gap to finish for the bonus point on 55 minutes converted by Bryan. Cheltenham gave themselves a chance with a change of tactics and a 20 metre driving maul produced a second for Patello converted by Harris.
A move to the adjacent pitch because of a recumbent player, saw Cheltenham push hard for the losing bonus point and they came close but wasted chances with basic errors. The home side had too much nous in defense with Alex Cox and Elliott Smith, in the back row, having strong ball carries in attack along with Dan Gatton, at 10, having the time to put his runners into the gaps using Ben Whitemore and Reece Carter in the centre and Webb and Stride on the wings, gave the visiting defense an uncomfortable afternoon. Silas Cox, starting at fullback but back on for the last 10 on the wing, snapped up a loose ball on the home try line as Cheltenham pressed and as the visitors hesitated he went the length of the pitch for a try under the sticks converted by Bryan within the last play.