Keynsham 38 Sidmouth 32
A really pulsating game was on show at the Crown Fields on Saturday when the home side just clung on to win by a narrow margin 38pts to 32. Both sides played with speed and flair and, for the first time this season, Keynsham strung together co-ordinated phases of play which were well matched by the lively visitors, playing their first ever fixture against the club.
The Black and Ambers had another debutant in the squad, Josh Clayfield at scrum half, and he was called into action in just the third minute when winger Adam Teasdale retired with a knee injury, John Pearce moving to wing. After 9 minutes quick ball from a lineout followed by bursts by Jack Weston and Callum Fennell moved the ball wide and a chip kick and wicked bounce gave Sam Challenger the opportunity to touch down for the first try which was unconverted. Sid mouth replied in the 14th minute when, following a penalty, a line-out drive gained considerable distance and centre Hodge ran a good line to shred the tattered defence to touch down under the posts; outside half Retter adding the points. 3 minutes later when the home side were pressing once again Sidmouth intercepted and long distance try seemed certain but speedy recovery work by the backs saved the day. 25 minutes gone and Keynsham attacking again, the ball moved left, then right then left again and from a final Weston pass Matt Carr squeezed over for his debut first team try – well deserved. Sam` conversion making it 12-7. In the next 6 minutes the sides swapped penalties and on 32 minutes Keynsham went further ahead via a Pearce try; this coming after breaks by skipper Hayden Johnson and Weston; Challengers conversion good. Before half time they`d added a further 7 points and secured their try bonus. Carr cross-kicked, Marlon Dorset chased and tackled inside the 22 forcing the visitors to ruck and maul on the retreat; the attempted clearance kick was charged down and George Warren weaved over to allow Sam to add the conversion. So, a cracking half ended at 27-10, but Sidmouth had played well and threatened the home line on more than one occasion., so it was not the time to be complacent.
Before 2 minutes had passed in the second half Keynsham had another try under their belts. A chip through by Ollie Coneybeare, a little tap from the boot of Pearce stopping the ball going into touch and Ollie beat the defence to score; ugly but effective! 32-12. An immediate response from the visitors saw them score in the right-hand corner, winger Cowan-Wells being the man and Retter added the extras with a fine conversion. Fennell left the fray at this point and Joe Clements took over as flanker. Weston found himself alone charging through but was hauled down; from the subsequent scrum Sidmouth were penalised and Challenger added three more points to his collection. A couple of minutes later Weston was yellow-carded for a high tackle and Darren Uren took over prop duties from Tim Coughlan. During Weston`s enforced 10-minute absence Sidmouth scored two tries, the first far out on the right and the second (and their bonus point), a slick try by winger Cian Warren, one of which was converted. Between these two tries Sam notched another penalty for the home side and Coghlan returned in place of Ryan Harding.
10 minutes to go and the score was 38-29, but that soon became 38-32 with the second of two penalty shots by Retter soaring between the posts. Sidmouth strived tooth and nail to bag the winner but were repulsed at the last gasp time and time again. With the kitchen sink already in the mix, there was a huge sigh of relief from the home crown when Josh Woodman scuttled away from a maul with the ball tucked firmly under his oxter. He was tackled, fed the ball back and Pearce banged it to the far side of the football ground – please can we have our balls back?
It`s hard to understand why the visitors have yet to win a game, very able opponents and we`ll do well to get a result in the return match, thoroughly deserving of their two bonus points. As for our boys? A great improvement in team connectivity and plenty to work on, enjoy a week off next week and come back re-invigorated!
All in all well worth the entrance money, thank you.
North Petherton 24 Keynsham 17
The first away league game was at North Petherton and the Keynsham squad travelled with hope having done the double against this opposition last season, restricting them to just 3 points over the two games. This had been achieved by the forwards completely dominating `Pethy`. So, expectations were high amongst the few travelling supporters as well.
These hopes and expectations were soon shattered as the home side showed every likelihood of reversing the situation from the outset, despite an early setback. The first half was played at speed but with very little accuracy from either side. Knock-ons, fumbles and `hail Mary` passes were in abundance, but it was North Petherton who were the quicker to the break downs, and Keynsham were turned over or driven off the ball on too many occasions. The fact that they were not used to being on the back foot so much was mainly the cause of their much-vaunted defence being constantly stretched to almost breaking point.
The Black and Ambers scored within 4 minutes when Jack Weston broke from a 5-metre scrum and quick hands saw Adam Teasdale run a nice line from off blind-side wing to touch down near the post, Sam Challenger converted. 8 minutes later, John Pearce intercepted a promising home attack and went on a mazy run but was turned over when the support was slow arriving; a hack through, chase and untidy back-peddling almost brought the home side a try but the defence just held out. Pethy had an opportunity the get on the scoreboard after 15 minutes but a relatively easy kick went wide. They did however score a try from centre Griffin which was converted by Frost. A Keynsham penalty was just wide shortly thereafter. The lads` scrum continued to creak and they were forced into an attacking throw just 5 metres out. A confident and tidy catch and drive enabled the Pethy prop, Caulfield to notch their second try, the conversion missing. Just on half time a Keynsham attack looked threatening but was spoilt by another knock-on. Half time - North Petherton 12, Keynsham 7.
There needed to be much more control in the second half and the home side managed this, giving plenty of ball and space to their young, speedy back-line, but Keynsham`s improvement was not so pronounced. George Warren and a debutant for Keynsham, Sam Crabbe, had replaced Dan Moody and Phil Harvey, when Sammy slotted a penalty. The home riposte was quick as winger Allen touched down for their third try, converted by Frost. Lewis Shrub joined the fray for the local boys at the expense of Jack Cowan but a huge surge from a 5-metre scrum saw Callum Fennell yellow carded and a penalty try to secure Pethy`s bonus point followed. There was then a yellow for the home prop to even the numbers and a breakaway from a line-out maul by Josh Woodman allowed Pearce to scuttle across the line and to the posts for 7 points which put Keynsham into the losing bonus point zone. 5 minutes from time, Weston was sin-binned but North Petherton’s kick from the 22 was wide and they had a final chance to deny the visitors the bonus point but messed it up with a knock on. Final score 24-17.
As a geological aside, there was an earth tremor in the Bridgwater area registering 3.8 on the Richter scale when prop `Big Al` and `Moods` collided torso to torso!.
Definitely lucky to come away from this game with a point boys, but full marks for a defensive effort on the back foot. Some work required please before Sidmouth come a ‘calling next week.