Absent Friends

Clevedon 7pts
Drybrook 5pts

Drybrook were undone at last by their own inability to field their best team. With at least eight first choice players unavailable, a pitch that resembled a scene from the Somme and a Clevedon team full of big lumpy forwards with a passion for scrummaging, the writing was on the wall for all to see.
Credit goes to the players who have had to step up over the last few weeks and they have acquitted themselves well but this was one game too far, although they tried valiantly they had no answer to the Clevedon game plan.
Before the game Club Chairman Chris Rawlings was out on the Clevedon pitch, fork in hand, doing his best to prod away the mud and water from the surface. Meanwhile the man he replaced was also busy with fork in hand polishing off the Hunters Chicken our hosts had generously laid on for lunch.
The game got underway and the first twenty minutes were a cursor for what was to follow.
Clevedon were far better suited to the conditions and used their big forwards to rumble forward and retain a large percentage of the possession. Drybrook tackled well with Tingle and Nott once again giving their all for the cause up front and Captain Ben Large marshalling the troops out behind.
When Drybrook did manage to smuggle the ball from their opponents they did their level best to attempt to play an open attacking game. The pace of Charlie Herbert back in the Drybrook ranks was always going to give the visitors an avenue of attack, however the conditions and the resolute defence of the home team meant that for all their endeavour Drybrook received no reward.

The Drybrook scrum was under tremendous pressure and young half back Regan Marsh showed that despite his lack of years he has plenty of ability, but even he was unable to do much with the eight in front of him being pushed back faster than the Italian retreat at Monza.
Twenty five minutes on the clock and Clevedon were awarded a scrum ten metres from the Drybrook line.
If this were an episode of A Question of Sport and you were asked what happened next? Not many would have struggled to guess the right answer.
With the Drybrook scrum being driven towards their own line and breaking apart the Ref blew his whistle and awarded the home team a penalty try. The only surprising part of this was that Clevedon looked certain to score anyway. The refs intervention meant that instead of having to kick a tricky conversion from wider out they were automatically awarded the extra two points, which given the context of the game would prove vital in the final outcome.
The rest of the half continued in much the same vein and in all honesty the half time whistle came as a relief to all who had made the short journey down the M5.
During the break the coastguard had to be called to recue Phil Large who had made the mistake of standing in one spot for too long and had sunk to his waist.
The second half got underway and followed much the same pattern as the first.
Although Clevedon were able to retain the ball through their stronger set piece they showed little threat of an attacking nature, and it was Drybrook who looked the most threatening in a .
dreary half of rugby. With fifteen minutes left Drybrook made good ground up the middle with Bourne and Tingle carrying well. Large made a terrific break on the blindside before a deft kick allowed the dangerous Herbert to gather and score for the visitors. Gardner was unable to add the conversion, but the game was now in the balance with just a two point margin.
Drybrook went in search of an unlikely victory and they were given the opportunity to steal the plunder when the home team were penalised thirty meters from their own posts in the final minute.
Gardner made good contact with the ball but agonisingly saw his effort just drift wide of the left hand upright. The delight of the Clevedon players was evident to see as they celebrated their second win of a difficult league campaign.
It was a blow to Drybrook who have lofty ambitions this season. It is a pity that not all of the players in the squad have the commitment and will of their Captain who once again played his heart out in his beloved green shirt.
On a positive note it was good to see Herbert back in Drybrook colours and the young players who have been called up have gained valuable experience of first team rugby which will serve them and the club well into the future.
Drybrook will look forward to the return of the vast amount of their first team and hope the conditions will be friendlier when they take on North Petherton at the Mannings in a rearranged encounter next Saturday.

Drybrook 1st XV: R. Gardner, C. Swannock,
D. Price, C. Herbert, O. Moore B. Large, R.Marsh, D.Jelf, C.Guest, M.Hale, G. Nott, L. Mullane,
M. Bourne, J.Tingle, M. Renton
Replacements: M. Baldwin, A. Mlner,
C. Auker-Howlett.