Trip to Cheltenham brings first away victory
Cheltenham North 1st XV – 16 Chipping Sodbury 1st XV – 20
Chipping Sodbury’s trip to Cheltenham was notable for the inclusion of Anthony Montilla, the aged speedster returning to rugby following a stint as a horse whisperer. It was notable too as the towering talent of Tom Farthing, selected at scrum half. He didn’t look out of place and made sure that the pack didn’t slack off allowing him to keep pinging precise passes at Dan Bradley.
During the early exchanges Sodbury had to reorganis following Ollie Hunter’s yellow card, Cheltenham North swept into their opponents 22 forcing centres Dom Pullen and Joe Horton to be as robust as ever in defence. But it was Jon Cook who dashed across the 22 to put his man into touch.
North were soon under a yellow card themselves and from the resultant penalty, Luke Balentine-Smith featured heavily in a build-up to a try that owed much to the forward power of Sodbury. He stayed on his feet until support arrived. The quick ruck ball eventually found Niall Kincaid who scored his first try since joining in the summer.
The game then became a little scrappy and was largely played out between the 22’s. Sodbury were full of endeavour lacked the final pass. They also allowed North in to Sodbury’s 22 where they booted their first points from a penalty. The North attack was spirited but narrow providing plenty of work round the breakdown for Balentine-Smith and eventual Man Of The Match George Barnes, who put himself about with the subtlety of a demolition ball.
Luke Carnaby was back in the team and was central to everything good about Sodbury. His tackle count was high but it was his ball carrying that really caught the eye. As half-time loomed Sodbury were surprised to find themselves 6 – 5 down after North kicked a 40m penalty in the closing minutes of the half.
North came out after the break with real purpose and worked themselves into Sodbury’s 22 via a penalty. They won their lineout and put together 3 quick-as-a-flash rucks before diving over from 5 metres to extend their lead.
The Sods reacted by sending on Chairman Phil Player at no.8 and teenager Luke Butters on the wing. There was a pay-off immediately as Sodbury claimed the restart and 3 passes got the ball away from heavy traffic and into the hands of Butters. He scored the try to get Sodbury back on track.
From the kick-off Sodbury made inroads immediately with Horton finishing a move to cruise in behind the posts. The conversion gave Sodbury an 11 – 17 lead.
The visitors were then forced to weather a North storm, and Sodbury conceded a completely out-of-character pushover try which left the game on a knife-edge for the final 10 minutes. North threw away their momentum when they lost another player to a yellow card, this time for stamping. When the Sods were awarded a final penalty shortly after, Jon Cook stepped up and stroked it between the uprights from 30m putting the lid on Sodbury’s first victory on the road this season.