Chipping Sodbury 35

Gordano Sharks 19

DAN COLE was on fire as Chipping Sodbury sunk the Sharks.

Cole bagged Sodbury’s first try and instigated a period of bionic rugby, where the Sods raced to a 28 – 0 lead in 26 minutes.

Gordano enjoyed most of the possession in the opening exchanges but were only able to go sideways or backwards, such was the force of Sodbury’s defence. When the home team forced an error at a ruck on Gordano’s 22, they had the feed at the scrum. The Sodbury eight came up with the goods and the ball was whipped out to Dan Bradley – he in turn found Joe Horton, pounding infield off his wing. Horton attracts defenders like a picnic attracts wasps, but he stood strong as three Gordano men buzzed around him. Cole was running a stealthy support line and accepted a beautifully timed pass before crashing over beneath the posts.

Sodbury dealt with the restart and gave the ball to Pete Butcher, who – despite his new slimline figure – hit the line hard and made vital inroads behind the defence. Horton was hot for more action and turned up in midfield; he broke the line on half-way and ate up 30 metres before passing to Jon Cook.

Horton barged his own forwards out of the way at the restart to claim the ball; once in his grasp his ruinous run attracted tacklers and made space out wide. One fast ruck and the ball was with Bradley, who fired out a searching 15 metre flat pass to prolific wing Gavin Edgar. Edgar easily spotted the lone Gordano cover tracking across; he skipped over his tackle 40m out and cruised in to score.

The contest calmed down and Gordano got a toe-hold in the game and started to test the home defence. In fact, Sodbury found themselves in their own 22 for nearly 10 minutes. Gordano, however, remained empty-handed due to a colossal defensive effort by their hosts. The front row worked heroically during this period as Lee Ralph harnessed his inner baboon while Joe Sanders chopped mercilessly, but it was Gareth Hollywell who raced to the blindside to strip the ball in the tackle and destroy an easy 3-on-2.

Sodbury worked down to halfway and got a rare penalty, which was kicked for a 5m lineout. The drive was stopped but the Sods got the feed at the resulting scrum. The pack battered away, making 5 rucks within 5 metres. When the ball was eventually pulled back to Bradley, he kept his arms free in the tackle and found Cole. Cole made a final thrust as ruthless as the cold steel of a cavalry charge to bag his brace. Up stepped Cook for the fourth time: he swung his metronomic boot and converted effortlessly once more.

Gordano rushed back and lay siege to the Sodbury 22. Sodbury worked tirelessly to repel them, and the visitors were driven back by a series of hard scrums and hard tackling by hard men. Gordano showed real heart and bounced back, so much so that they were held up over the line on four occasions as the breathless Sodbury defence refused to lie down. As the clock went red and the Sods were under a yellow card, the visitors found a gap and finally crept in for a try.

Gordano crossed the Sodbury whitewash early in the second half, despite being disrupted at scrums by the fanatical flattening of their scrum-half by Sodbury’s own wiry No.9, Tom Head. Soon after the shock of a second try, Sodbury turned Gordano over at a ruck in their own half. The ball was given to Cook who, along with raw speed, also possesses inhuman power. With legs pumping as he twisted from the grasp of two tacklers he tore himself free and rapidly covered the 50 metres to the try line. He converted his own try for a perfect 5 out of 5.