Frampton made the short trip to St Mary’s Old Boys on Saturday afternoon for the return fixture having had a very comfortable victory at the Stade de Fram back in September. The pitch was in good condition, but proceedings were dominated by the strong wind which was blowing up and across the field away from the clubhouse.
Frampton kicked off playing down the slope, but into the wind. They were rewarded after five minutes with a simple penalty in front of the posts which was duly converted by Lewis Oakley to give Frampton an early lead. However, the complexion of the match changed almost immediately when Frampton lost two players to injury at the same time; hooker George Frost through concussion and No.8 Harry Blakes with a badly cut head. They were replaced by Charlie Willis and Thomas Warren.
Frampton were forced to defend for long periods of time by a St Mary’s side who employed a very simple but direct style of one out running. St Mary’s dominated both territory and possession and were rewarded with two unconverted tries. Frampton were very much out of sorts, and were fortunate that St Mary’s hadn’t scored more points in the first half.
With Frampton playing with the wind at their backs, the Frampton faithful were hoping that they might spring into life in the second half. Sadly, apart from one or two brief periods, this never really happened. One period of pressure on the home line lead to the St Mary’s No.8 being shown a yellow card for joining a ruck from the side. Frampton were able to make the most of their numerical advantage with Brandon Ball crashing over the line from very close range to score a try. Oakley hit the post with the conversion which would have brought the scores level.
Frampton weren’t able to kick on and press for a win. Play mainly took place in the middle part of the pitch with neither side being able to gain any ascendancy and with neither side really looked like scoring. Frampton were hampered by the loss of flanker Zak Smith, replaced by Russ Taylor with centre Dan Semple filling in at wing forward. Frampton were further handicapped by having to play the last fifteen minutes with only fourteen men after centre Morgan Stiles had to leave the field with a badly cut lip. To cap it all Ali Scott was shown a yellow card in the last minute, but this had no bearing on the outcome of the match.
The match and the performance is best consigned to the back of the cupboard. The team do have the opportunity to put a few things straight on Wednesday evening when they play runaway league leaders Chosen Hill in the final of the GRFU Senior Vase Final at Old Cryptians in Gloucester.