1stXV away vs Southmead at BS10 5PY
W 20 - 19
A tough first encounter
1. Eddie Ranson
2. Ben Brace
3. Dan Swain
4. Josh Fitzgerald
5. Will Moreland
6. Bertie Tarrant
7. Dave Tonka
8. Callum Haines
9. George Tayloe
10. Jack Dowdeswell
11. Will Cutler
12. Paul Baker
13. Joe Carolan
14. Tom Kenwright
15. Stef Lasota
16. Tom Broome
17. Jake Carolan
18. Lawson Day
This is always a tough day at the office but our first visit to Southmead that wasn't the pre-Christmas extravaganza of previous seasons saw a warm, sunny day to start the 2018-2019 season. There were some rumblings with the home supporters before the match of a 'young Bredon side with lots of new faces' which was wholly accurate!
With Bredon playing up the slope and into a swirling but stiff breeze set it all up for the game to start in true fashion with some big hits from both sides. Southmead probably had the better of the first contests and a strong and long upfront battle started as it meant to go on with the home side carrying hard, close to the rucks and making Bredon defend narrow but strongly. With little to define the first 15mins of the game, other than a physical arm wrestle, Bredon took the first opportunity to open the scoring with Southmead piling over the top of a ruck just outside their 22 and Jack Dowdeswell kicking the resulting penalty for a 3-0 lead to the away side which was quickly followed by a reply from the home side to level things up.
The resultant kick off was the start of the home sides best period of the match with really strong carries from the forwards and some pinpoint and long kicking from the fly-half keeping Bredon at bay with the only attacking opportunites from deep in their own half which never resulted in much release of pressure, more through strong defensive work than poor attacking play. Finally the home side had their chance to score and piled on the pressure, some great interchanges alongside some strong carries by the forwards and the home side crashed over in the corner for a much deserved try. 10-3 to Southmead with around 30mins of game gone.
The try boyed the spirits of the home and they continued to pile on the pressure and with two more penalties before the half was out, they went into half-time with a healthy, and deserved, 16-3 lead. It looked, at this point, like a tough ask for Bredon to bring this one back.
Bredon started the second half with a little more fight and a lot more control, playing the phases and moving the home side around the field a bit more but the opportunities didn't just appear as expected and it took a little bit of vision from Joe Carolan to create the scoring opportunity. With the home defence quite narrow and a screaming Paul Baker out wide, Carolan popped in a little cross field kick, the supporters had their heads in their hands because 'we've kicked away another opportunity' but the ball fell perfectly into Baker's hands who drew the full back and offloaded inside to Super-Sub, Lawson Day, to trot over for Bredon's first try of the day. With Dowdeswell slotting the conversion, it was getting closer at 16-10 but Southmead were still in good spirits and fancied ther chances of a first win over Bredon.
The next few minutes of the game were very attritional with Southmead keeping the ball well, with willing ball carriers, and the odd offload, making headway in the Bredon defence. The extended period of ball retention from the home side resulted in an almost inevitable penalty which was duly taken by the Southmead 10 to make the score 19-10 with a little over 15mins remaining. Now to see whether this young Bredon side have character....
The answer to that was yes! Realising they needed a try to get back into the game, Bredon started to play some rugby and keep the ball for a while, going through the phases and creating some pressure which all resulted in a home side scrum in 'Lasota Corner' and front row of Ranson, Brace and Swain (aided by the other 5 in the pack!) decided it was really their time to shine. The resulting scrum was devastating and possibly unexpected by the home pack as the Bredon 8 pushed them off the ball and won a penalty which Captain Swain immediately turned into another scrum! Although Bredon were comfortable in the scrum, the ball wasn't and popped out meaning the opportunity of a pushover try was gone but that didn't stop the Bredon onslaught and the build up of pressure eventually resulted in a Joe Carolan try. 19-17 with little over 5mins to go.
It was last chance saloon for Bredon and, back on their own tryline, it possibly looked like a lost cause but the chance to get the ball in Tom Kenwright's hands was on so he could show what he can do. The ball made it into his hands on the left wing with a nice move in midfield and he set off. Credit to the Southmead defence for getting across and trying to force him into touch but he held himself infield and set up a ruck and the ball was still in Bredon hands. Another ruck in midfield put some pressure on the referee but an infringement by Southmead at the ruck resulted in a Bredon penalty, bang in front but around 25m out. Up steps Dowdeswell again and, as in so many games last year, he slotted the kick and saw Bredon home to a 19-20 victory against a hugely improved Southmead.
That's 1 from 1 and onto next week away at Brockworth.