Keynsham Rugby's unbeaten run ended by table-topping Matson

Published on: 06 Jan 2016

December 2015

by Rob Breckon

Keynsham Rugby’s 12 match winning run and unbeaten form since the start of the 2015/16 season ended on Saturday, December 19, after a close-fought contest at home against Matson. Final score 10-15.

For the home side it was a very quick start out of the blocks. The opening kick-off wasn’t well received by Matson, which bounced into touch just outside their 22. Keynsham’s athletic line out jumpers, particularly the towering Corey Talbot, managed to disrupt the Matson set piece, which was collected by hooker Paul Coops. The ball was popped to supporting number 8 and captain Jack Weston, who showed great strength and power to bounce off four Matson defenders and run the 20 metres to score with less than a minute played. Fly half Joe Davies added the conversion, 7-0.

However, Matson were unbeaten by luck and their response reflected this just before the end of the first quarter. After a number of phases, Keynsham were penalised and Matson kicked to the corner. A solid set piece then allowed their pacey backs to enter the fray with their winger crossing over in the corner to make it a try apiece. 7-5. 

The most significant moment in the game came just before half time following a good run from centre Gareth Bradnock, who was illegally held up just shy of the try line. The resulting penalty was taken quickly by Weston who crashed over for what the majority thought was a definite try. Despite this, the referee was indecisive was instead deemed the ball to have been knocked on, much to the dismay of the home supporters and players themselves. This meant Keynsham went into half time with a narrow 7-5 lead.

In the second half, Matson seemed to step up the pace and were skilfully putting together numerous phases of attack and stretching the home defence which was responding in kind. However, a well-placed chip and chase eventually opened up Keynsham’s defence with the visitors dotting down just before the ball rolled over the dead-ball line. 7-10.

In such tense and high pressured contests it can be the small margins that set sides apart. Keynsham resorted to a kicking orientated strategy much of the second half for which they were made to pay with Matson’s very fast back three demonstrating their worth with a another well taken try for the Matson winger with 65 minutes played, 7-15.

Despite this setback, Keynsham showed their resilience. Keynsham’s pack, which has enjoyed much ascendancy over opposition so far this season, faced a similarly successful pack. However, at times the amber and blacks got the upper hand and a good carry late on in the game through flanker Hayden Johnson and prop Tim Coughlan provided the platform for a series of meaningful attacking phases from the backs. The pressure told and Matson infringed and Davies closed to gap to an unconverted try with a well taken penalty. 10-15.

Sensing a late change in momentum, Matson looked to play smart and resorted to using the boot, meaning if Keynsham were going to score they would have to do so from deep inside their own half. Despite a late barrage of attack, Matson’s defence held on to inflict Keynsham’s first defeat of the season.

Captain Weston said: “It’s a disappointing result, Matson just edged it and probably deserved the win and small margins make a big difference in games like this. If you offered us 12 wins from 13 games at the start of the season we would have snatched your arm off. The biggest test now is how we bounce back from this result and go forwards in the second half of the season. But I have full confidence in the boys and what we can achieve.”

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