Frampton welcomed Gloucester side Hucclecote to the Stade de Fram on Saturday afternoon. The pitch was sticky but at least the weather was dry although there was a very strong breeze blowing down the pitch towards the changing rooms.
Frampton made several changes to the side which had been well beaten at Cheltenham North the week previously. George Frost started at hooker for the injured Tim Child, Rhys Thompson came into the second row with Ali Scott moving up to prop. Ryan Giddings moved to outside centre with Kieran Tucker taking over at scrum half. Unfortunately, Morgan Stiles had to withdraw through illness, so James Knight moved up to inside centre with Dan Semple being given his debut at full back. Brandon Ball continued to captain the side in Austen Davis’s absence through injury.
Playing into the wind, Frampton started very strongly and could have scored two tries within the first five minutes. Firstly, George Frost was held up over the line, and then minutes later the ball was dislodged from Brandon Ball’s grasp as he plunged over the line. Fair play to Hucclecote, they defended very strongly during this period. Hucclecote then put Frampton’s line under pressure with a series of sustained attacks, but the home defence held firm.
Frampton took the lead after 18 minutes, when following a sweeping move down the right hand side, James Knight was up in support to take a good inside pass from Tom Curnock to touch down an unconverted try. Play ebbed and flowed from thereon with neither side really dominating. An unconverted try from George Frost extended Frampton’s lead, but Hucclecote hit back before half time with a converted try of their own, giving Frampton a slender three point lead at the break.
Frampton now had the wind at their backs, and planned to make use of it by playing their rugby in the Hucclecote half. It didn’t all go according to plan as Hucclecote gave as good as they got, but Frampton finally put together a series of phases to take play to the clubhouse corner from where they battered the visitors’ line until Brandon Ball crashed over to score an excellent try which was converted by Lewis Oakley.
Frampton would have been confident of taking the game away from Hucclecote, but exactly the opposite happened. A combination of unforced errors and some poor options by Frampton, and good play by Hucclecote saw the visitors come right back into the match. Their backs looked dangerous throughout and they went on to score two tries, the first of which was converted, leaving Frampton trailing by two points.
A mark of the growing maturity of the young Frampton side is that they refused to buckle and took the play back to Hucclecote. After a series of plays on the Hucclecote line Brandon Ball crashed over to score his second try and give Frampton the lead. Lewis Oakley converted with a good kick in tricky conditions to leave the score at 24 points to 19.
There was still time for Hucclecote to press strongly for the winning score. Frampton were further hampered through the sinbinning of Joe Cleary for not releasing at a ruck. Hucclecote thought that they had snatched the match at the death when one of their props picked up the ball to score near the posts. However, the referee quite rightly awarded a penalty to Frampton instead because he had simply stood up in the scrum and picked up the ball. From the resulting penalty Lewis Oakley kicked the ball dead to bring the match to a close.
This was a very hard earned win for the youthful Frampton side against a more than useful team, whose results and league position probably belie their ability. Despite the bonus point win, Frampton remain in 4th place, but level on points with 3rd placed Longlevens, whom they play away next Saturday. In the meantime however, Frampton have a Gloucestershire Senior Vase quarter final away to local rivals St Mary’s Old Boys under floodlights on Thursday evening. Please come along and support. There’s nothing on the telly.