Spartans (Gloucester) Match Report
By Andrew Westcott
Frampton's Fabulous Fightback
Frampton welcomed Spartans from Gloucester to the Stade de Fram on Saturday afternoon. Frampton came into the match having lost out in a high scoring match in Gloucester in the first match of the season and were on the back of a very disappointing four match losing run which had seen them slip down to sixth place in the table. Spartans have topped the table all season, and were looking for the single point that would confirm them as league champions. They arrived with a coach full of vociferous supporters who were hoping and expecting to see their team promoted to Western Counties North.
The match was played at great pace with both sides determined to make use of the dry and sunny conditions which were ideal for enterprising rugby. Play ebbed and flowed with both sides seemingly taking their turn to attack and to then defend. Frampton took the lead early on through a well taken try by Lewis Oakley who used his speed to outpace the visitors’ defence. Lewis converted his try to make the score 7 to nil. Spartans replied with a try of their own which they quickly followed up a second unconverted try and a penalty goal. Lewis Oakley replied with a penalty of his own and a second try, this time unconverted, leaving Frampton in the lead at 15-13.
With just over ten minutes to go before half time, the Spartans number 6 was sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle on Frampton hooker George Frost, who unfortunately had to leave the field through injury. George was replaced by Josh Sheppard. Spartans were restored to full strength just before the break, and after a period of pressure, capitalised by scoring their third try to lead at half time by 18 points to 15.
Spartans started the second half at great pace and caught Frampton on the hop by scoring their fourth try straight away after the restart. The try was converted, but more importantly Spartans had gained a try scoring bonus point which guaranteed their promotion as league champions. Cue wild celebrations by everyone from Gloucester.
Frampton were rocked but replied with a well worked try by Tim Child. The conversion attempt was charged down. Spartans then quickly scored again with further try which was converted with an excellent kick from the touchline to leave Frampton trailing at 37 points to 20. Given the performances and results of the past few weeks, one might have expected Frampton to have folded at this point. But they showed tremendous spirit and fight to stage a fabulous comeback. During this period Frampton scored three further tries through Austen Davis, Tom Warren and Lewis Oakley, two of which were converted by Lewis to leave the final score, a rather breathless, 39 points to 37 to Frampton. Indeed, Frampton were unlucky to have had a further try ruled out in the corner right at the end of the match.
Coach Andy Jarrett deemed Frampton’s man of the match to be Brandon Ball for his many strong carries and gain line successes as well as filling in on the tighthead berth with dominance.
Frampton finished the season in a very solid sixth place. This could be considered disappointing given that the team had sat in either second or third place for a long time and had beaten all of the sides above them at some point in the season. However, positive steps have been taken forward this season with a predominantly young squad and at times a long injury list. Frampton should look forward to next season with some confidence.
Finally, we must extend our hearty congratulations to Spartans who are deserved league champions. We wish them well in Western Counties North next season.