It was another bad day at the office for Cotham Park's 1st XV on saturday as they travelled to Stroud to face "the oldest village rugby club in England" - Painswick.
2. Phat Legs
3. Jon Williams
4. Ken Groom
6. Dave van der Wells
7. Johnny A
8. Marcus Wooldridge
9. Dave Grew
10. Sam Sterling
11. Elliot Broadley
12. Matt Ace
13. Brian Irish
14. Ben He-Man
15. Tom Hicks
16. Terry Robinson
17. Ollie Gunnar Sol-Squire
18. Mark Newnham
Upon my late arrival at Painswick's clubhouse, I was greeted with the beaming faces of a full compliment of talented young players, oh and also Dom, dressed (for some unknown reason) like a metro-sexual hells angel. There was a quiet calm and confidence about the boys as we taped our boots and fixed our kit for the warm up. But it was soon apparent that all was not well: with a full compliment of players including a front row sub, the shirts saga of the previous week's fixtures continued when we quickly realised that there where only 15 shirts in the kitbag, however we where missing numbers 12, 13 and 7...
The warm up went well, and the backs nailing their moves, and the forwards working as a unit. It seemed that every member of the squad knew their roll, there where no doubts, and the focus continued back to the dressing for the pre-match chat.
The fire began to burn as Cotham headed for the undulating dale that was Painswick's quite shoddy pitch: 5000 square metres of ditches and humps, where as Painswick's 2nd XV appeared to be playing on the much flatter, much better pitch just behind the one we where tasked with navigating.
After kick-off, it was apparent from the off that Cotham meant business. With ball in hand the forwards where carrying well; Dave van der Wells making a searing break from the back of a lineout, brushing past the 'wick defenders with ease. Without the ball our defence stood firm, good energy from the forwards - there appeared to be three John Cresswells on the pitch at one point - and drift from the backs cut down the host's option across the park. When Painswick did enter our 22, the tackling stepped up a gear, bigger hits forcing the opposition back. After just 10 minutes, the hosts where beginning to get frustrated. After a number of turnovers facilitated by excellent hits - in particular from Sam Sterling at 10 - and timely jackalling - in particular from Matt Ace - Cotham lines where cleared again. It wasnt until the 35th minute that Painswick finally broke our line. A few wayward clearance kicks (I was not expecting the ball) led to a few building phases for 'wick. The ball got out to their winger, who boshed his way to the line for the first of brace of tries.
The flood gates didnt open until the second half. Painswick continued to exploit the blindside at scrum time; our front row once again dominating the set piece; which gave them a handful of tries. Their backs, in particular the wingers, getting on the outside of people to take the score beyond any fightback. Cotham stayed resolute, the second half did contain flutters of brilliance from the backs, while the forwards worked tirelessly to secure the ball. However, it was not meant to be, Cotham going down to their heaviest defeat of the season so far.
Negatives: Poor tackling, poor covering of blindside at scrum, shocking lineout, too many handling errors.
Positives: Drift defence worked, good rucking and mauling from the forwards, good scrummaging, high turnover count, good kick-chase, good fitness (as always), better communication (for the most part), low penalty count and excellent discipline all round.
Although it was massively dissapointing to end what we felt was a completely winnable game with such a daft scoreline, the team is gelling. It has been said every week so far, yet I feel saturday was the first time that all the players actually believed that our game is coming together. We are ticking the boxes, more and more each week, and with better tackling, a solid lineout and a handful more concentration, that scoreline could've been very different.
Saturday the 16th represents a week off for the 1st XV, which only means that we can train harder this week, in preperation for Aretians in a fortnights time.