Frampton welcomed Ross on Wye on Saturday afternoon for the first return fixture of the season. Frampton had enjoyed a comprehensive bonus point win at Ross back in September, but Ross are a much improved side since that day. The match was switched to the Winterbourne Academy pitch as the Stade de Fram was deemed unplayable.
Playing up the slope in the first half, Frampton started brightly, but couldn’t find a way through the Ross defence. Ross then controlled possession and territory for the next ten minutes but without ever really looking threatening. Frampton took the lead against the run of play after a quarter of an hour when fly half Lewis Oakley sliced through the visitors’ defence with a run from half way to score an unconverted try.
Ross then took the initiative again and battered the Frampton line for the next 15 minutes. The Frampton defence was immense, and Ross were unable to force a score. Something had to give, and James Carver was yellow carded for not rolling away from a ruck under the posts. James’ pleas of innocence fell on the deaf ears of the referee. Shortly after the yellow card, Ross scored a typically direct try which was converted to give them the lead.
With half time approaching, Frampton finally managed to secure some possession and to hold on to the ball long enough to put together a good move which culminated in Tom Curnock flying over in the right-hand corner for a try which Oakley was unable to convert. Half time arrived with Frampton leading by 10 points to 7; a lead which was barely merited based on the run of the game.
Despite stirring words at half time from the Frampton senior players, it was Ross who once again looked the more dangerous side. Using their direct, one out driving game to good effect, they scored two converted tries to leave Frampton trailing by 21 points to 10 with the final quarter of the match to go.
The Frampton coaching team had predicted that the Ross performance would fall away towards the end of the match, and this proved to be the case. Such wisdom in our ranks. Frampton attacked down the right-hand touchline for James Knight to score a good try leaving several would be defenders in his wake. Oakley converted to leave Frampton trailing by 4 points.
Frampton continued to press, but either poor execution or a wrong decision prevented them from getting the crucial winning score. The pressure did tell eventually however, when Oakley charged down an attempted clearance kick under the posts. The ball bounced favourably over the line for Oakley to fall on the ball to score Frampton’s fourth try which he duly converted.
Frampton did have one further opportunity to extend their lead with a straight, but longish, penalty kick for goal. Unfortunately, the penalty was missed, but probably more importantly, the ball was kicked dead thus denying Ross the opportunity to keep the ball alive and to counter-attack.
If we are completely honest, this wasn’t one of Frampton’s finest performances. It was very definitely the performance of a team which hadn’t played for two weeks and which hadn’t worked their festive treats out of their system. However, despite all of this, the team managed to find a way to win and to clock up a try scoring bonus point in the process. Onwards to next week for a local derby away to St Mary’s Old Boys.