Berry Hill Match Report
Yellow cards and second half injuries cost Frampton dear
Frampton travelled across the Severn Bridge on Saturday afternoon to take on Berry Hill. Frampton were looking to complete a double having won the home fixture back at the beginning of October. This would not be an easy task as their hosts were on a good run of form recently. Conditions were grey, misty and very drizzly with a breeze blowing across the pitch.
Frampton settled into the match much the better of the two sides and took the lead when Lewis Oakley kicked a simple penalty from near the posts to make the score 3-0. Frampton continued to control the majority of possession and territory for the next twenty five minutes, but they could not fashion a score. Two relatively straightforward penalty kicks at goal were narrowly missed, one glancing a post. Try as they might, Frampton could not add to their score.
Berry Hill came into the match more after half an hour. They began to win some good possession and mixed up their game well with a combination of forward drives and crisp handling. Frampton defended their line manfully and repelled everything which Berry Hill threw at them. However, the turning point in the match came six minutes before half time when hooker George Frost was sent to the sin bin for what looked like an innocuous tackle on the home scrum half. Clearly the referee thought differently. With a one man advantage the home side threw everything at Frampton. They controlled the ball well and picked and drove at the line. Despite desperate defence, Berry Hill scored two close range tries, the first of which was converted to leave the score at 12-3 at half time.
The second half continued very much as the first had finished with Berry Hill controlling the ball well. They were strong and direct in attack and moved the ball around well. They scored a third unconverted try midway through the second half and followed this up with a penalty to make the score 20-3. Their lead could have been greater had they not spurned a couple of very good chances. They were also thwarted by player coach Andy Jarrett whose fabulous cover tackle stopped a certain try in the corner. To his credit, Andy refused the offer of oxygen from the physio.
With just under ten minutes to go, Frampton prop Joe Cleary was sent to the bin for a shove on a Berry Hill player who was stood in an offside position on the Frampton side of a breakdown. The referee was quick to get out her yellow card again. Despite being reduced to fourteen men again, Frampton did look comfortable, and came close to scoring but Lewis Oakley lost possession when tackled close to the home line.
With five minutes to go, captain Josh Creed was also sent to the sin bin by the referee for not passing on a message to his team about persistent offside. This was a very harsh call. With Frampton two players down, Berry Hill upped their efforts one further time and scored a bonus point try from yet another pick and go. This try was converted to leave the final score 27-3 to the home side.
There is no doubt that Berry Hill thoroughly deserved their win. It may have been a different story had Frampton taken their chances in the first half, but it was not to be. There is no doubt that Frampton were hindered by injuries to full back Russ Taylor with a badly cut eye, and wing forward Taine Buffery who left the field in some discomfort with a neck injury. Fortunately neither player has been diagnosed with concussion, so we would hope that both would be available next weekend. The pre match unavailability of three front row players also hindered preparations.
I am normally very reluctant to talk about the impact that a referee can have on a match. I would always advocate that if you are good enough, you will deal with it accordingly. We should always be grateful for the time that referees give up. Without them, there would be no game. With this very much in mind, it is however important to note that the referee did lose control of the match and caused great confusion to both sides and both sets of supporters with her interpretation and application of the laws of the game. Perhaps the GRFU got it wrong with choosing somebody so young and inexperienced to referee what was always likely to be a full blooded encounter. I should reiterate that this is not the reason why Frampton lost the match. Berry Hill adapted better than us and their win was fully merited.
Every side has their off days, and Saturday was certainly one of them for Frampton. Onwards and upwards to next week’s home match against Bristol Saracens who leap frogged Frampton into second place in the league after their home win over Cheltenham Saracens on Saturday.