Keynsham 36 - 33 Exeter University
What a difference a week makes! After a dire game previously when winning against Clevedon, this was a cracker. Playing the league leaders who had given Keynsham a rugby lesson in the reverse fixture at Exeter, the lads knew they had to give it their all and duly obliged.
A bright start with both teams playing with speed and cohesion set the tone. Exeter struck first with a try following a penalty kick to touch and the subsequent driving maul after 6 minutes, the conversion making it 0-7. Two minutes later Keynsham equalised with a try from second rower Matt Clifton and Sam Challenger’s conversion. 16 minutes gone and the visitors made it 7-14 with a replica of their first try; again, Keynsham responded and were eventually rewarded with a successful penalty from 35 metres out by Challenger. A fine move by the fluid students brought a further try as their right winger went over unopposed, the conversion missed so it was then 10-19. Two minutes before half-time saw Keynsham’s Clifton score his, and the teams’, second. Challenger’s conversion closing the gap to 2 points. From the kick-off Keynsham yielded a silly off-side penalty. The resultant kick to touch and line-out brought about try number 4 for the visitors, yet another carbon copy of tries 1 and 2; half time score 17-26.
Stand-off Joe Davis retired at half time with a dead leg and was replaced by Rob Breckon which enforced a subsequent reshuffle of the backline. Exeter extended their lead to 16 points when their right wing finished off a lovely move which had started deep inside their own half and their kicker added the icing. Keynsham seemed to change gear at this point and were beginning to stretch the students defence on a more regular basis. As the noise level from the crowd grew so their efforts became more and more. A sweet try by Bob Beacon closed the gap to 11 points and belief increased.
More pressure in the visitors’ red zone led to hooker Tom Loser scoring beside the posts giving Sam an easy job to add the extra points. The gap now just 4 points and looking at the possibility of at least 1, if not 2 bonus points, the pressure was rising still further as was the noise level. Just before the 30-minute mark a fourth Keynsham try was greeted with near hysteria – Jack Evans this time receiving the accolades – the conversion nudging Keynsham into a 3-point lead. The students then threw the kitchen sink at Keynsham, determined to regain the lead; truly brave and magnificent defending by all 15 players on the field denied them and as the home side were awarded a penalty for not releasing in injury time a famous victory ensued.
All set to go now for the Bath Combination Cup final on Wednesday – good luck. Thank you to Subway Keynsham who sponsored the match, we hope you enjoyed the day. Well done to Tom Lewis who was voted the Subway Man of the Match.
Clevedon 10 - 20 Keynsham
Firstly, great thanks to Clevedon for making the effort in getting this rearranged fixture played as they transferred the match to the nearby school 2nd team pitch, thus avoiding a log jam of games to be squeezed in before the end of the season.
Thereafter, it was a disappointing afternoon as both sides struggled to make any headway on a small, sloping and heavy ground; truly a game between a side already relegated and one struggling to stay up. 25 minutes in, the home side went ahead 5 nil through an unconverted try following a rolling maul. 10 minutes later Keynsham edged ahead 7-5 with a similar score claimed by Jack Evans (erroneously?), Sam Challenger adding the conversion. A fine break by winger Liam Murray lead to a try, subsequently disallowed as it was ruled that he had gone into touch before the last pass. But, just on half time Keynsham went 12-5 ahead from a try by Jack Weston – we think!
The second half had just begun when Challenger kicked a penalty to put the lads a further 3 points ahead and, before the 10-minute mark this lead was extended to 15 points when Toby Williams dotted down. Try as they might, they were unable to score what would have been a bonus point try and it was the home side who completed the scoring on the final whistle with another unconverted try.
An unsatisfying closed at 10-20 and 4 league points. The effort and energy put in by the Keynsham squad was impressive but the skills were of an individual basis and there was a lack of tactical nous.
Keynsham 19 - 32 Cullompton RFC
After an even opening 5 minutes Keynsham moved into the visitors 22 and were exerting some pressure when they gave away their first penalty – for not releasing when Cullompton were first to the tackle zone. On 13 minutes Keynsham put together umpteen phases from deep inside their own half and Matt Clifton went over for the first try of the game, this was converted by Sam Challenger to make the score 7-0. There was an immediate response from Cully levelling the scores through a try by their skipper and no 8 Sean Mardell, converted by centre Adam Pearce.
Within a couple of minutes Keynsham were ahead 14-7 following a steal from a maul by Jack Evans, a snipe by scrum half John Pearce who off-loaded to the supporting Clifford who notched up try no 2; Sam converted. The lead was to last but 7 minutes as Cullompton exploited gaps in K’s back-line defence to bag another fine try scored by wing-forward George Woofenden, with Pearce again adding the extra 2 points.
On the half hour, the visitors went ahead with an unconverted try by winger Jack Stoddard. A strange score to some degree as a grubber to the touch line hit the corner flag but stayed in play, in goal. A promising Keynsham attack shortly thereafter was halted by a knock on - a penalty opportunity was to follow and Sam’s shot was successful. 35 minutes gone and there was a long delay following an injury to the home side’s scrum-half John Pearce, who had to stay down until an ambulance arrived some time later. The game transferred to the adjacent pitch for the duration with Keynsham shuffling their resources in the back line; Liam Murray entering the fray on the wing.
Despite the best of efforts from both teams there were no more scores in the rest of the half. So, the first half was fairly even with the visitors just edging the scoring 17-19.
Cully made it abundantly clear that they were playing for keeps and quickly ran in their 4th and bonus point try just 2 minutes into the second half. This was a well-conceived and well taken try by full back Ross Toms, Pearce’s conversion making it 17-26. Keynsham had an opportunity after 10 minutes as a penalty kick to touch gave them a line-out close to the line but Cully turned it over. Ryan Harding and Tom Lewis took over from Phil Harvey and Sam Williams at this point.
14 minutes gone and the visitors made it 17-29 with a penalty by Pearce. Keynsham the lost another opportunity near the line due to ill-discipline (frustration with their performance taking over?). Cullompton scored what was to be the last points of the game on 30 minutes by dint of a penalty by Toms, who was later short with a long-range attempt. Keynsham’s spirit was not lacking, but generally not a good day for players and spectators alike; on the plus side John Pearce did get back from hospital in time for a libation or two.
Our thanks to the Cullompton physio who took on the role for both teams in the second half, as Will was looking after Pearcy.
Drybrook 29 - 8 Keynsham RFC
Keynsham ventured into the Forest of Dean to play high the flying Drybrook. With the ground in good condition, albeit slightly damp on the top layer, and good conditions the stage was set for an enjoyable game to ensue. The players on both sides did not disappoint, with plenty of skill, speed and effort on display.
The home side went ahead in the eighth minute with a try from Mitch Hale converted by Tom Treherne, to witch Keynsham replied by prop Phil Harvey; this came from a series of phases following a penalty which lead to a line-out 7 metres out. The conversion narrowly missed so the score stayed at 7-5. Keynsham were in defence mode when hooker Tom Lewis broke clear and dashed 40 + metres before being stopped. Keynsham then had a penalty shot to nudge then into the lead and Sam Challenger duly did the business; 7-8.
After Keynsham were marched back 10 following a penalty award Treherne took the opportunity to put Drybrook back in front 10-8. Further indiscipline cost Keynsham two players whilst they were under pressure near their own line and the home side duly took their chance almost immediately and touched down for their second try, Danny Price going over almost unopposed: Treherne’s 2 points made it 17-8. A loose kick from defence (not the only time this was to occur!) gave Drybrook the chance to run the ball back and winger Mitch Baldwin made fully 60 metres before being pulled down. Further pressure on the visitors’ line followed but stout and resolute defence forced a relieving penalty and brought the half to a close.
Keynsham, back to full strength shortly after the re-start were under significant pressure for the opening 10 minutes but the strength of the pack and overall defensive organisation prevented Drybrook from going further ahead. This storm weathered, it was Keynsham’s turn to attempt to turn the screw; they created a few of scoring chance but they came to nowt, this time Drybrook’s defence showing what they could do. After 27 minutes, Challenger had a shot at goal to try to reduce the deficit to more manageable 6 points but his kick sailed wide of the mark.
To add to this disappointment, 3 minutes later Drybrook got their third try, Mitch Baldwin crossing near the line and making it to under the posts for an easy conversion by Treherne – 24-8. Keynsham again caused some discomfort to the home defence but again could not make it count on the score board, over excitement or tiredness prevailed. Deep into over-time Keynsham should have cleared to touch but bravely, or foolishly, depending on one’s view, decided to run it back. This gave Drybrook their last chance at a 4th, and bonus point try: 7 phases then followed within the Keynsham 5 metre mark, culminating in a try by No 8 Matt Renton. We won’t talk about the conversion attempt! Final score 29-8.
The score did not tell the whole picture of the game and afterwards Drybrook’s players, officials and players were all very complementary about the performance of the whole squad, the pack being singled out en-bloc. If the team can put together another couple of performances like this then or spot in this league will be assured; if they don’t it could be squeaky bum time towards the end of the season – it’s up to you, guys!