Nuns 50 - Old Hales 10
Nuns run up a half century at basement boys in the wet.
After last week's postponement, the Nuns travelled to basement boys Old Hales looking to continue momentum of 5 wins in a row. The team showed a couple of changes from last time out with Ryan Leake starting in the front row for Ben Holmes, Tom Aherne in for Scott Makepeace, Tom Smitham for Huw Thomas and Moses Liwaliwa for Tim Douglas.
The game started off on a gloomy day with some consistent drizzle throughout, but the pitch was in good condition. It was an inauspicious opening for the Nuns with a fumble on the kick off resulting in a scrum to the hosts. They had a very large pack but looking at them you'd wonder if they could last the distance of 80 minutes. The first scrum went to a penalty to Hales, a kick to the corner, then catch and drive resulted in another penalty. Scrum taken and another penalty in phase play was then kicked to the corner again and eventually the hosts scored from the driving maul for an unconverted try and 5-0 lead after 5 minutes.
From a spilt kick-off receipt the Nuns set up camp in the Hales 22m and for the next 10 minutes they struggled to get out as the Nuns retained possession and put them under pressure. Any relieving kicks were returned with interest and eventually, after some recycled ball, Rory Vowles carried the ball to the line and offloaded to the oncoming Todd Bullions to score under the posts. Conversion made 7-5 to the Nuns after 15 minutes.
Straight from the kick off the Nuns got on the charge again with Rudi Reid initially carrying well. The ball was sent downfield by Vowles and when Hales kick back Richard Johnston collected and burst forward. A delicate chip over the defence saw Jackson Hughes beat Elliott Brown and Johnston to the ball to collect and cross for an unconverted try, 12-5 after 17 minutes.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts as again from the kick off Nuns got on the front foot. When a penalty was awarded in the Nuns half, Vowles sent a kick to touch for a line out just outside the 22m. After possession was secured by Matthew Gibbs, number 8 Apo Satala broke off the maul and through the first line of defence to off load to the supporting Brown who crossed for his first try of the game. The conversion took the score to 19-5 after 21 minutes.
There was then a brief lull in the scoring as both teams shared some possession in the centre of the pitch until the nuns made some headway to the hosts 22m. The ball was moved from the right side to Elliott Brown who, with a dummy, shimmer and fend beat four defenders to score to the side of the posts with Vowles adding his 3rd conversion taking the score to 26-5 on 28 minutes. In the build-up to the try, scrum half Tom Smitham picked up an ankle injury which saw Ryan Southall come on and Ben Kirby switch to scrum half.
The next try came from a succession of penalties starting just outside the Nuns 22m. Each time the ball was kicked to touch, recycled and penalty awarded again until a line out was taken on the Hales 5m. After it was caught, Apo Satala broke off to score from 5m's out. Converted by Vowles took the score to 33-5 with 33 minutes played.
To their credit, Old Hales then mounted a period of pressure through maintaining possession in their pack. When they got into the Nuns 22m, after a couple of penalties Matthew Gibbs was shown a yellow card for a soft high tackle. With a numerical advantage a scrum was taken and the ball fed to the winger who scored in the corner for an unconverted try leaving the score 33-10 at half time.
The Nuns made a change at half time with Josh Greatrix swapping with Callum Grant-Smith. For the next 20 minutes both teams battled against each other between the 22ms as the weather started to turn making handling a little tougher. Possession was shared and some good Nuns defence kept the hosts out at one stage. When Gibbs returned to the field of play Arron Skyrme replaced Todd Bullions and then on 55 minutes Josh Greatrix picked up a head knocked and so swapped with Callum Grant-Smith again.
From a lineout just inside the Hales 22m, the ball was driven 10m then carried forward by Hughes towards the post. Recycled ball was then moved out to the left and Satala carried it further before popping it off the floor to Ryan Southall to score in the corner, unconverted but moving the score to 38-10 on 60 minutes.
As the game went on the Nuns had a number of further chances to score but a couple of balls went to ground or forward which dented progress. Then, with just under 10 minutes to go Hales kicked deep to be within 10m's of the Nuns try line. From the ruck Rudi Reid made 30m's then passed to Grant-Smith. The ball was recycled on the 10m then Vowles chipped forward to be gathered by Hughes who charged towards the try line. With the cover defence coming across he kicked the ball infield which saw Ben Kirby win the foot race to score an unconverted try. 43-10 on 71 minutes.
The last score of the day came on 76 minutes and again it was a near length of the field set of play. Old Hales had a penalty which they aimed for touch, but the ball was collected by Johnston 10m's from his line. He started an arcing run in field and linked up with Brown and then Hughes. The ball was recycled from the ruck and then fed to Reid who made another couple of metres towards half way. Recycled again and Kirby fed Satala who slipped it to Aherne who burst through the defensive line. He then popped it back inside to Satala who drew the last defended and passed to the supporting Arron Skyrme who ran in from 25m for his first try for the Nuns. Vowles converted to make the score 50-10.
The last 5 minutes saw Elliott Brown denied a hat trick as he chased his hack through from the 22m. He claimed to touch the ball down but the ref awarded a 22m.
Another win for the Nuns as the made it 6 in a row. A week off next weekend but then a run off 4 games against sides above or around them in the league which could see where a potential final finishing position will be. Also, full credit to Old Hales for their performance. For a club in transition and changing philosophy they gave a good fight all game and showed some shoots of promise for the future which will be in Midlands 1 next season.
Nuns - Ryan Leake, Callum Grant-Smith, Jon Pateman, Matthew Gibbs, Tom Aherne, Rudi Reid, Todd Bullions, Apo Satala, Tom Smitham, Rory Vowles, Richard Johnston, Moses Liwaliwa, Elliott Brown, Jackson Hughes, Ben Kirby
Josh Greatrix, Arron Skyrme, Ryan Southall
Tries; Bullions, Hughes, Brown 2, Satala, Southall, Kirby, Skyrme
Conversions; Vowles 5