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.