Matson 44

Chipping Sodbury 28

ERRORS cost Chipping Sodbury the match at Gloucester side Matson.

Sodbury started brightly enough and crowded Matson deep into their own half, forcing them into four lateral rucks. They were then forced to pass wide and then into a hurried kick. The kick was shanked, the bounce bamboozling the chasing Matson wing. Matt Tait, however, tracked the ball perfectly and collected it 40m out. He hit top speed quickly and scorched in for a surprise try.

However, Sodbury duly conceded from the restart. On 10 minutes the Sods got a penalty while defending their line: the lineout was won 30 metres from their try line and the pack rumbled through four rucks. Sodbury then swung a wide pass to the left, finding Tait – the only man not to spend the whole game breathing in due to the snug green second strip – who sent a grubber past the on-rushing defence on halfway. Tait set off after it and dribbled it to the line for his second try, as his jubilant team-mates cheered him on.

Matson scored again from a 5m scrum, then Sodbury struck back from the restart. It began as a copy of the first try, only this time when Tait returned a poor kick he was stopped on halfway. After just two rucks, in-form ball carrier Pete Butcher broke free, standing strong under extreme duress. Dan Bradley bustled into view and Butcher delivered a pass that Sonny Bill Williams would be proud of. Bradley was left to make rapid strides, outstripping any cover tacklers.

The travelling support could scarcely believe the 10 – 21 score-line, but it wasn’t to last. Sodbury let errors creep into their game and Matson, who are preparing for an Intermediate Cup semi-final shortly, began to punish these errors. Matson were also forced to confront the incredible power generated by Gavin Edgar, the raw speed of Jon Cook, and the trickiness of Dan Cole, all of which were a constant threat. Sodbury’s front-row tyro Joe Sanders was at his defensive best again. His tackling was hard and uncompromising, and he ran seasoned campaigner Jason Petchey close in the tackle. Sanders’ bravery and strike rate is a welcome addition to the team as the season comes to an end.

There was plenty of endeavour from 1 – 15 but the errors were killing Sodbury. Matson went on to amass eight tries before the Sods struck for the last time and gained a morale-boosting bonus point.

On 70 minutes an earth-shaking double tackle by Cole and Butcher shook the ball free. Tait was there first and hacked the ball forward, continuing to control it expertly with his feet until it bounced up for him. He registered a hat-trick that owed everything to pace, strength, and tenacity. Cook stepped up and converted it, just as he’d done for the three previous tries.