Chipping Sodbury..........25

Old Richians................. 15

Chipping Sodbury returned from the Christmas break with a determined victory over Old Richians writes Neil Taylor.

The opening exchanges were frenetic while Sodbury soaked up two minutes of Richians’ attack. Dan Bradley and Dan Cole, aided by Matt Cook, shied away from nothing during this defensive effort, while Otto Avent pounced and stole a Richians lineout to further break up play.

Soon after, a series of Sodbury lineouts were driven through their half.

A penalty was then kicked to 20 metres out. A huge 15m drive took Sodbury within touching distance of the opening try; when the drive finally stopped, the big men went round the corner three times.

Dave Guest eventually burrowed through for the try. Jon Cook converted.

Richians then roared back to life, thanks mainly to their no.8 and an inside centre who was hard to stop.

They camped in Sodbury’s 22 and assailed the try-line for 10 minutes, but Sodbury proved a hard nut to crack and they ended up with only three points to show for all their effort.

From the restart, Sods built phases at will while sweeping the play left and right. This pressure led to a penalty 30m out, which Jon Cook slotted.

The visitors then won a Sodbury lineout on halfway and scored a try which was run in down the tramlines by Richians’ no.8.

There was a pinpoint kicking display throughout the game from Jon Cook, who slotted in seamlessly at full-back.

He also hit the line at pace regularly to create an extra man.

Either side of half time, Cook’s calmness with the boot kept Sodbury in the hunt.

Matt Cook, in his first game back after a serious neck injury, got stuck into Richians’ lineout to kill their drives and hit rucks.

Youngster Jake Kirkham was also dazzling from hooker, and later at tight-head prop.He racked up a dizzying amount of tackles and carries but it was his reactions to sweep up loose balls and provide go-forward that were being talked about on the touchline.

The hosts built pressure steadily for the opening 15 minutes of the second period.

Sodbury’s Joe Horton’s job was to run hard, run fast, and attract as many defenders as possible and he completed his task.

The ruthless rucking from his peers meant quick ball or penalties.

These were kicked for lineouts, which Richians defended tigerishly to frustrate the Sods.

Eventually Sodbury got them on the rack; when stopped, first Kincaid then Chris Lavis went close.

Sodbury’s pack showed real composure to slow play down. When Head delivered the ball, somehow it was Kincaid catching it.

He grasped the ball tightly before really getting the torque down on the cloying surface.

The two men in front of him had no chance as he extinguished their effort with a mighty dive.

Five minutes after the pack’s lung-bursting efforts, the Sods won a messy lineout on halfway.

Guest was on hand to tidy up and feed Head, who in turn passed it to Bradley and he picked his way past a group of defenders.

Once clear, there was no stopping him, and the crowd watched open-mouthed as he finished a special 50m try.

Sodbury were soon undone by ill-discipline, which let Richians scrap their way into the Sods’ 22.

Quick rucking and slick passing undid the home team and brought the score to 20 – 15 with 10 minutes to go.

The crowd was still royally entertained but were hoping for some Sodbury magic to bag a bonus point.

With only injury time left, Sods opted to scrummage a penalty seven metres out.

Richians had their counterparts in trouble but Sodbury now had Matt Cook at no.8 who scooped the ball free of the thrashing legs and passed to

Head, who got the shout that Bradley was switching play late.

Bradley swept up the blindside with the ball, fixed his man then ran him down to score and secure the bonus point victory.