Sodbury move up to second
Sodbury come from behind to keep winning start to league
Chipping Sodbury 1st XV – 22
Barton Hill 1st XV – 17
Barton Hill accepted the kick-off and rumbled down-field, going through eight phases while Sodbury did their best to repel them. As the game swept into Sodbury's 22, the home team managed to stop the progress dead – a bonus of turning the ball over and exiting into Barts’ half set up a lineout. From the lineout the ball was sent wide: after two robust recyclings, Barts were found offside.
As the two packs disengaged from each other, scrum-half Tom Head took charge. He is the third generation of Heads to wear the Sodbury shirt – father Pete Head, whose on-field exploits are still talked about today, was smiling from ear to ear as his son stomped his authority on the game. The quick tap and dart towards the line wreaked havoc amongst the visitors. Following up on Head’s quick thinking was Joe Horton, who used every inch of his freakish frame to stretch out and score. Jon Cook converted to complete an all-action opening five minutes.
From the restart Sodbury’s exit was poor: this invited Barts into the 22 and there was ferocious defensive work from Dave Guest, Matt Cook and dashing centre Dom Pullen. When Sodbury got the ball back they still had plenty in the tank, and turned defence into attack with big ball carriers like Tom Farthing and Pete Butcher galloping hard across the gain-line. This period of pressure saw the Sods miss a shot at goal as well as narrowly missing an audacious cross-field kick for a try.
Once more Barts rallied, their robust pack eating up the metres despite the thunderous Sodbury defence. They set up camp in Sods 22, where they continued with their narrow attack. From scrums and lineout the waves of attack kept on coming, but the thin black line of Sodbury’s defence stood firm. Barts managed a 3-pointer from in front of the posts after a Sodbury infringement but their purple patch continued up to the cusp of half time. After making it back into the home 22 they exploited their pick and go game and eventually Sodbury yielded under the pressure to turn round at 7 – 10.
Sodbury were still cleaning the pith from their teeth after the half time orange when Barts’ pack bullied them back once more. The try out wide on the left gave them a healthy lead but Sodbury are made of stern stuff. With the touchline swelled by many past players who had enjoyed President Ian Aldous’ first luncheon of the season, the team had a point to prove.
Luke Balentine-Smith was introduced after 10 minutes and the scrummaging was turned up to 11 as Sodbury began to take the upper hand. Bradley kicked a penalty from midfield to just inside Barts 22. This was caught spectacularly at the back of the lineout by Butcher, setting up a drive. There were a few quick rucks to follow as the attack drifted infield. Scrum-half Head struck with the speed of a racing snake, squeezing through a gap on the fringes of the ruck. In support was blond bombshell Tom Farthing, who had caught the selector’s eye with an all-round swashbuckling performance. His clever pass out of the tackle to Head, who was tireless in support, provided the opportunity for Head’s first Sodbury try. Jon Cook improved it.
Sodbury now had their tails up and went close to scoring on two more occasions; such was their dominance that Barts barely saw the Sodbury half during the remaining quarter. Sodbury’s determination was typified by Guest, who was relentless in his pursuit of Barts’ no.10. The pressure exerted finally paid off whena clearance kick skewed infield. Rampaging full-back James Bennett ran back hard at Barts’ half-hearted chase; quick ruck ball found Bradley, who, along with Butcher, Ralph and George Barnes, smashed their way into Barts 22. Jon Cook appeared seemingly from nowhere: such is his footwork and searing pace that he wasn’t caught until 5m out. He had the strength and momentum to see him cross the whitewash.
From the restart Sodbury’s exit was perfect, they soon found themselves on the edge of Barts’ 22 again. The visitor’s desperation saw them concede a penalty, which the nerveless J.Cook was on hand to convert, giving specify a 5-point advantage that they didn’t relinquish.