Gosford 2nd XV Start 2018 the way they ended 2017
A big perfomance from the All Blacks see them remain at the top spot of the BB04N and get of to the best possible start for 2018
The first game back after any extended break is always difficult; the muscles have got use to not smashing into other egg chasers, the shorts a bit tighter from the over indulging in mince pies and the rugby balls are slightly deflated, in the hope that they’re done for another season. Unfortunately for the balls it was only the Christmas Break and even more so the mighty Gosford 2nd XV were relishing at getting back on the pitch after putting in one of their most dominating performances ever at Abingdon a few weeks prior.
With the pitch looking not so glorious compared to the start of the season, the 2nd XV would welcome the growing Stow on the Wold 2nd XV in their inaugural season to The Brake, having beaten them 7 – 48 in the first leg. In the first game, the Stow side were much what you’d expect if their 1st XV was anything to go by, a strong forward unit, supported by some backs that could also easily pass for forwards preparing to take route 1 smash and crash ball all game. With this bit of knowledge the Gosford game plan was simple, keep it tight in the forwards, playing a few phases to draw their bigger, lumpier units in before releasing the rapid back line to do their fancy stuff and score. Simple!
As the two teams lined-up it was Gosford to kick off, with Richie Robbins having the honours of getting the first kick of 2018 underway. The All Black unit lined up, the kick was good, finding its way to the smallest of the forward pack that would get squashed deep in his own half. With both teams piling into secure the ball, it was Stow who retained possession, with the scrum half feeding the kick happy flyhalf, who kicked (this was a reoccurrence throughout the game) into deep space. The ball collected by Gosford’s youngster James Groves
at fullback, who’d get his first chance to open his legs and run it back hard. Brought down inside the Stow half, the ball secured through the athletic Sam Durley
, the ball was popped to Rob Eynon
who would feed the centre pairing of Pete Copp
and Marc Grant
, against their much larger opposite men, the pair did well to work another 15 yards up the pitch before a ruck would be overturned and gave the Stow flyhalf another chance to use his, 3 step kick routine, kicking deep in to Gosford half it would bounce out for an All Black lineout.
The Gosford lineout was much more ineffective than previous weeks, as it seemed the break had seriously hindered Dan Talbot
’s accuracy. With the ball overturned for a non-straight lineout, Stow would take a scrum around the 30 yard mark.
Now the Gosford scrum has been something that has just kept getting better all season, regular corner stones Rick Green and Master Tom Bates
, have been a very effective partnership, both easily handling their opposite men and driving the scrum backward, between them today stood Mark Diamond, one of the most experienced men on the field, adding him into the front row was probably enough to contend with all of the Stow pack, however, to keep things level in numbers the other 5 joined in. With the ball put, the drive was called and the 8 man Gosford unit, drove the Stow pack back, 1 yard, 2..3..4..5 yard and ball overturned. With Talbot taking a quick pick, he’d feed Robbins who would give his back line another chance to press forward. Gaining good ground they were stopped on the 22, winger Raf, had danced hi way past two, but was unable to get out of a double team bundle, with the ball bobbling back to touch it went for another Stow lineout, which in tradition, was given to their flyhalf who kicked for field position.
The game in the first 30 minutes was tight, neither team were able to string a series of phases together, the stop start nature, meant there were more than normal amounts of scrums and lineouts, the Gosford players were not even able to take quick penalties as the ref often slowed the play down to give accurate accountings of why there was a penalty and what would happen if done again.
But, with all that said the first real break would come from another Gosford break through Groves wo collected the flyhalf’s kick, running it back and getting tackled just inside the Stow half, the forwards ran a few powerlines, with Master Bates gaining a good 10 yards and Connor Sadler
15 yards. Robbins would then release the back line with ball going through the hands before a great offload from Copp to Durley who would drive his way through the Stow defence to slam down Gosford’s first try. The try would then be converted by Copp, putting the home side 7-0 up.
This try had given the Gosford side the confidence they needed, the Stow defence which had been so strong was finally splintered and their armour which was shiny and polished was now looking tarnished after a sustained period of battle.
Game restarted the ball was caught by a freak gust of wind (or so Stow claimed) with the ball not going 10, it was brought back for a Gosford scrum on the half way, the scrum, such a dominate platform didn’t disappoint, the ball was picked by Talbot at 8, who would delay his pass to Robbins who would use his strong turn of pace to race forward, ball secured and scrum half deep in the ruck, the forwards played a few phases, Green formidable at the breakdown was even more effective of the base of the ruck, taking 3 men to bring him down, he drove long enough to give the back line time to readjust and through a fury of hands, the ball went from Strong, to Eynon, Eynon to Bates, Bates to Talbot, who would dummy his first man and delay his pass to Robbins for him to slamdown Gosford’s 2nd try of the game. Unconverted the Blacks gained a lead of 12 – 0 with 3 minutes to go.
With enough time for one more kick off, the Stow flyhalf would kick it deep, but straight to the hands of Robbins, who’d sprint his way back up the pitch before passing to Groves, the All Blacks full back, would gas round his first man, shrug of his second and hand of the third, with 40 yards of open space, another chance to open his legs and secure Gosford’s 3rd try. Unconverted, the half time score stood at 17 – 0, with the all Black’s just one more try away from bonus point territory.
At the half, Gosford would make a couple of changes, bringing Chris Good
on in the second row for Christophe, Charlie Loveday
on the wing for the beard of zeus himself Matt Strong
and Danny Rae
moving into the centres for the now limping Pete Copp
Game restarted it was Stow to kick, with the ball high and short, a misjudged catch saw the ball bobble backwards, with Tim Davies
pouncing on the loose ball, the Gosford pack piled into secure, but the Stow forwards were quicker to steal the ball, on the Gosford 22, it was the first time the All Blacks had shown any sign of real weakness in defence, and Stow were keen to capitalise, the All Blacks did recover but a hashed box kick was retrieved by Stow who would run it back, a few mistackles and the Stow forward barged his way over for an unconverted try. 17 – 5.
The All Blacks were not willing to let the Stow side gain any momentum and instantly increased the pressure, the restart was heavily chased and it was Good who would instantly make his impact slicing down the catcher, a fumbled pass and the ball was secured by Gosford, quick play through the backs with some ‘good’ hands by Eynon would get the ball to Groves who would spot a gap and instantly counteract the Stow try and secure his second of the match, conversion missed the score now at 22 – 5.
This try instantly dampened the Stow spirits which had built up, with their players now showing signs of fatigue and their depleted numbers, the Gosford boys were really beginning to take advantage.
The next try would come from a catch and drive lineout, Talbot who had by this point sorted his throwing out, hit the front man Durley who would bring it down safely, with Talbot then getting hands on the ball, the Gosford unit would bind up tight and march their way forward 10 yards for Talbot to secure the 5th try of the game. Loveday will want the report to note his, 40 yard penalty kick which secured the lineout was arguably the best and worst kick seen in the modern game, it spiralled inwards, before drastically spiralling outward, gaining and loosing height throughout flught, before perfectly bouncing on the touchline. Some call it luck, other would call it skill…
Further tries would come from Robbins where a luck Danny Rae
kick, which bounced over four defenders before perctly landing in Robbins hands leaving him an easy run over the line with Talbot converting, 34 – 5. Marc Grant
would get Gosford’s 7th try the veteran centre ran a great line and used all his stature to burst his way over for another unconverted try, 39 – 5. The final try of the game is still yet to have a taker, so will add when we’re sure of who it was.
This emphatic win was well earnt, the Stow side never gave up and were constantly battling throughout the game, but with their numbers depleted and Gosford lending them players to keep the game going, time would be called 10 minutes short before things would get too carried away.
Big mentions of the game go to Mark Diamond, the experienced front row was all over the park, securing ball and doing so much leg work without him would have been sorely missed. Raf, the winger made three try saving tackles on the bounce in the first half and when on the ball always had the beating of his opposite man. Robbins, well getting a couple of tries probably does worth a mention so well done you.
However, man of the match goes to James Groves
the young full back was tested through the Stow flyhalf however each time he got the ball gained great ground, in addition to his two tries his tackling was superb including his last one which was done with a combination of his face and shoulder and would earn him a questionable yellow card.
Gosford’s next game will see Witney come to the brake and one where Gosfird will continue to fight to hold on to top spot of the BB04N