WELL, after an enforced two-week rest due to the arctic conditions of the previous weeks, where at times it was impossible even to train, last week we made the long trip to Bristol to face Clifton.
We got confirmation on Saturday morning that the game was definitely on after the Clifton pitch was passed playable.
The side this week was missing Fin, meaning that I moved into the second row and Dave Davis made a welcome return to the starting line-up. We also welcomed young winger Chris Clare into the squad for the first time
This was a game we had targeted as a kick-start to help get us out of the slump from the two losses to Richmond and Ealing and to put us in good shape for the visit of Jersey next week.
Unfortunately, this was not to be. As a group of players we didn’t go into it with the right attitude and it showed. We started the game well and had the first scoring chance but, as was to become a constant theme for the game, poor ball retention and ill discipline cost us dearly.
Clifton scored the first of their tries through a catch and drive, after a kick to the corner following another penalty offence. When we did have the ball and managed to hold on to it and build some phases, we started to trouble the opposition. But this was rare and all too often we lost the ball in contact or knocked it on while trying to force a pass.
It wasn’t long before we were penalised again, and again Clifton drove us over the line. With the score at 10-0 we upped our game and managed to force our way back into it going in at half-time with the score 10-6 thanks to two penalties of our own.
After some strong words at half-time and some honesty, we started well and but for more knock-ons, we would have scored more than the solitary penalty. As the half went on, we became more frustrated and again started to try to force the miracle pass, at the same time our discipline began to worsen and we lost a player to the bin. This did seem to galvanise us and while a man down and under a lot of pressure, our defence was fantastic. In fact, we managed to hold Clifton out for the entire second half and secured ourselves the losing bonus point
The defence in the second half and securing the bonus point were positives to take out of the weekend. The boys worked hard and pulled together to prevent Clifton scoring again.
So, a hugely disappointing result for us and it gets no easier this weekend as we welcome second-placed Jersey for their first trip to the Rugby Ground. We hope to see as many of you up there supporting in what will be a very tough encounter.