Frampton welcomed Whitehall on Saturday afternoon in a match which had been carried over from the previous weekend when the Stade de Fram was unplayable. The pitch was very heavy, but at least the weather was dry, albeit very overcast. Frampton had enjoyed a good bonus point win at Whitehall at the beginning of October, but Whitehall are much improved since then.
Frampton started slowly, with the bigger Whitehall pack dominating possession and their forwards driving strongly. Within ten minutes Whitehall had scored two tries, one of which was converted to leave Frampton trailing by 12 points to nil. Frampton needed to step up and get a toe hold in the game.
Eventually, Frampton did manage to win some possession, and were rewarded when Lewis Oakley kicked a penalty goal to get Frampton off the mark. Frampton followed this up with a well worked try which saw full back James Knight scoring near the posts for Oakley to convert. There was no further scoring before half time which came with Frampton trailing by 12 points to 10.
Frampton had come back into the game well and started the second half looking more confident. They were rewarded when a move up the left hand touch line saw James Knight keep the ball alive well and then two passes were made inside for Callum Bleakman to crash over for a good try and to see Frampton in the lead for the first time. Oakley converted.
Both sides exchanged penalty goals as each team looked to score again. Play was evenly matched, but perhaps the turning point in the game came when Frampton lost hooker Tim Child and flanker James Carver to injury at the same time. Shortly afterwards, Aedan Coleman, making a welcome return to Frampton colours, was shown a yellow card for a no arms tackle. Whitehall took full advantage of this and drove play upfield to score what would be the decisive and match winning try and conversion.
Despite their best efforts Frampton couldn’t find a way back into the match. They were also further handicapped by centre Morgan Stiles limping off with a leg injury. Frampton were forced to defend strongly for the last five minutes as Whitehall camped on the Frampton try line. Although they went close, Whitehall couldn’t find a way to get their bonus point score.
After their upbeat performance against Chosen Hill in the cup final earlier in the week, this was a disappointing home defeat for Frampton. The slow start in the first quarter and then the injuries in the final quarter took their toll. Whitehall came with a big physical pack and played to their strength all afternoon.
Next week Frampton have a trip over to the dark side to play Berry Hill. Despite languishing in eleventh place in the league, Berry Hill is never an easy place to go and get a win. Frampton’s form will return at some point; let’s all hope that it will be next week.