FCRFC U18’s Season Review.
Frampton’s’ colts have had a satisfying and challenging season which to be fair was always going to be the case with only 6 of last year’s team remaining. That meant those who came up from the under 16’s had to really hit the ground running from day one. The Somerset U18’s has grown year by year with 12 teams entered and is very competitive. This meant that there were some significant away journeys to be made to the likes of Minehead, Wiveliscombe, Chard, to name a few.
The season opened on the last day of August and Frampton hosted Clevedon who are one of the main contenders for the league title. This game was very tight affair played on a red hot day on hard ground. Clevedon back line was dynamic and decisive however it was Frampton who had the stronger team especially up front as the forwards lay good foundations from which the backs profited. Frampton went on to win 18:14 out scoring Clevedon by 3 tries to one.
Then came a succession of long away games to Minehead, Chard, North Petherton, Taunton & Weston Super Mare. The Minehead game saw Frampton convincingly run in 7 tries to ease to a 45:5 win. Frampton played a strong Chard side and managed to grab a 19:19 draw from the jaws of victory in an ill disciplined game as Chard were content to try and be more physical up front. They succeeded to force a dubious penalty to get the draw with the last kick of the game.
North Petherton was a much better game against two very equal sides although Frampton’s forwards were a little under strength with the loss of power house prop Carl Redgrave and flanker Sean Furlong. Frampton’s try count was superior to North’s out scoring by 4 to 3, however some back line in discipline apparently being judge off side saw North win by 28:26. At this point Frampton were flying high in the table at the top with 2 wins, 1 draw & 1 loss, importantly though we were taking try scoring and losing bonus points.
Next were Taunton & WSM. Again tight affairs and reffing decisions not going our way. Taunton managed to win 12:5 from an outrageous forward pass to score under the posts and in the WSM game Frampton lost 18:17 to another last kick penalty. Fair play to the WSM kicker he nailed it from the left hand touch line from half way. At least Fram took a couple of bonus points from those games.
We then had a rare home game against title contenders Nailsea & Backwell which went the way of the visitors who were strong, committed and determined. Frampton competed well throughout the game and fully deserved the 2 tries however N&B ran out 30:12 winners.
Frampton then went back on the road to Wells and then Wellington who were by now the top two teams in the league. The Wells game was hugely disappointing as we could only raise a bare 15 for the game to then lose influential fly half Max Weaver in the warm up, shortly followed by Skipper Dan Spalding. Frampton tried their best but with 13 men it was always going to be a struggle with Wells winning 45:0. Whilst we travelled to Wellington in hope more than expectation, this was actually a very close game with Wellington winning 29:17 which took us to the Xmas break.
The first game of the new year was home to Bridgewater in a highly entertaining game that proved to be a try festival. Frampton won scoring 9 tries in a 55:31 victory. Chard were next to visit and were keen to show Frampton that they were better than the draw earlier in the season. Sadly for Chard that was not the case in a game that Frampton dominated scoring 3 tries to one and if I’m honest Chard were lucky to get their consolation try. The result was 17:10. Then followed a 5 try demolition of North Petherton 27:0. Frampton were disappointed not to score more as we squandered further try scoring opportunities. Another bonus point victory welcome though.
The return home fixture with Wells was by far the best game of the season. Massively competitive on all fronts and turned out to be a real cracker. Whilst Wells ran out eventual winners we gave them a huge fright and for much of the game Frampton were leading and dominating. However Wells with no less than 7 Somerset county players on the field slowly got themselves back in the game. Frampton’s defence held out until the very last play of the game when the Wells back line managed to score in the corner to take the game 22:17, the game was in the balance at 17:17. The coaching staff were highly impressed at the Frampton performance and commented that this was the best game they had played all season. It’s worth saying at this point that Wells went on to win the league by a considerable margin from Wellington, Nailsea & Backwell and Clevedon.
Taunton were next to visit and again another tight game or so the score board showed. Infact for 80% of the game Frampton completely over powered Taunton and with 20mins to go we were 19 nil up. Then Frampton took the foot of the gas and the momentum swung in Taunton’s favour, further helped by some dodgy refereeing interpretation. Taunton scored 4 well worked tries to get them to a 22:19 lead which rocked Frampton’s lads. The boys then rallied hard and took the game back to Taunton. Frampton then forced a penalty from Taunton with seconds remaining. James Knight then stood up cool as cucumber to riffle the ball through the posts from the half way line to scrape another draw from probable victory.
By this time of the season it was clear that Frampton were safely in mid table but a way of the top places. The conscious decision was therefore made to start introducing next year’s players from the U16’s. There were also some injuries in key positions plus several u18’s making their senior debuts in the 1st team. Hooker Jimmer Merrick came in for the injured Bullet and Dan Harris in for Ross Sharpe who was on 1st team duty. The two “young’uns” came in and instantly gelled well with the lads and looked completely at home in the two back to back home and away games against Wiveliscombe. These two fixtures were close but Frampton ran out winners in both. A visit then to Clevedon with a depleted strength side saw a close game but ultimately Clevedon’s greater depth saw them win 20:13.
The run in to the end of the season was now in full flow with the remaining fixtures against Minehead, Nailsea & Backwell, WSM and Bridgwater. Disappointingly Frampton were in full warm up when the club received a phone call from Minehead to inform us that they will not be coming. The game was awarded to Frampton as a 28:0 walkover with maximum points. Frampton then enacted a superb victory against WSM 25:7. Next was an away game to N&B that saw a few more u16’s involved and whilst the game went to N&B 27:10 this was a good performance. The final game against Bridgewater was played on a Wednesday night under lights at Bridgewater. Again we took the conscious decision to select as many under 16’s as possible. So Jimmer Merrick, Fraser Allen, Zach Smith, Dec Grimstead came into the forwards and Lewis Oakley, Lewis Chadwick & Will Patrick into the backs. All played superbly well in a very close game which arguably Frampton should have won. Bridgewater eventually won the game 13:12 but the result was meaningless as it was about getting the young’uns on to experience this level.
The obligatory end of season tour almost followed immediately after this game with a trip to play Milford Haven where Frampton has a long standing relationship as legend Andy Mac who originates from West Wales and who’s brother coaches Milf’s youth side.
The tour, organised by Dave “look after the baby” Crewe was centred in Pembroke dock in a lovely, far too good for a rugby tour accommodation, the coach journey was long and arduous but thanks to Steve “cheers drive” we made it in time to put our little darlings to bed so that us adults could go on the lash preceded by the ritual curry. We then stumbled across a bit of luck where we were “locked in” in lovely, friendly pub until 3am with many pints on board. Saturday then saw the big Welsh/English rivalry continue. With the Fram lads suitably rested and hydrated……….it was time to take the field. Alan Mac enquired has to the standard of our team as he was worried that we would be too strong for them. Elder brother Maccy informed his sibling that we “were quite strong”! Great he replied, I can play the whole squad. (including the 5 full welsh capped internationals at u18’s). Inevitably Frampton raced into 3try deficit within minutes of the kick off. Fram continued to smash the doors down and at times showed some moments of mediocrity resulting in Milf scoring yet another try. With Milf taking a well-earned water break, Fram took sneaky tap and go after bribing the ref with beers all night, Carl Redgrave scored a try after handing of an 8ft gorilla that had escaped from the local zoo. Clearly it was Carl “Chewbacca” Redgrave’s long lost lover from the night before in Paddles night club that came looking for round 2 of Wookey “blind date”. The game continued with Milf inflicting yet more pain and suffering by scoring a few more tries until the only moment of brilliance, genius and endeavour from Frampton. With "Archers” called and everyone hitting the deck (except Sharpie and Spud) who were oblivious to proceedings, Spud passed the ball to Sharpie (now stood inside his own half) put boot to ball and dropped an outrageous drop goal, a true highlight of the game and one that Milf tried but failed to replicate for the rest of the game. Thankfully the ref blew the whistle for full time and the boys could now enjoy the orange squash.
The rest of the tour is now a blur so it would be inappropriate to make up any further commentary.
So to the end of this article, it has been a great season both on and off the field with results even between wins, losses and draws. 7th place in the league, a total of 440 points scored with coincidently 440 points against. 60 tries in total, 14 for Dan Spalding and 124 points for James Knight and Joe Tindall & Luke Coltman played in every game of the season (23).
My thanks to all you players for your efforts, commitment and hard work. Enjoy the break and we will do it all again next season.
Special thanks to Dan Spalding, Joe Tindall, Kyle Sheppard, Tom Baker, Carl Redgrave, Matt Harvey, Callum Bleakman & James Knight who now move to full senior ranks. I wish you all the very best.
FCRFC U18’s Coach