Four-point derby delight for Keynsham Rugby

December 14 2015

Keynsham ended a ten-season wait to secure a hard-fought victory away at local rivals Bristol Harlequins on their way to a 12th consecutive league win. Final score 8-25.

December 2015

by Rob Breckon

Keynsham ended a ten-season wait to secure a hard-fought victory away at local rivals Bristol Harlequins on their way to a 12th consecutive league win. Final score 8-25.

This feisty and physical contest, combined with windy conditions and a soft heavy pitch, produced what was generally an attritional encounter on Saturday, December 12. 

Playing uphill and against the wind in the first half, Keynsham were put under considerable pressure from the first whistle with Quins attacking in a direct manner and scrum half Ross Hickery using the box kick to good effect, keeping the visitors pinned deep inside their half.

The early pressure told and Keynsham infringed at the breakdown, allowing Hickery to slot a penalty to take his side to 3-0.

However, Keynsham also looked to utilise the kicking game and both stand off Joe Davies and fullback Sam Challenger, aided by the backline who chased well, ensured that Quins were losing the kicking battle, enabling Keynsham to work their way nearer to the Quins try line.

Soon after, the scores were levelled by Davies’ boot as Keynsham went on the charge and it was Quins who were this time pinged for infringing at the ruck. 3-3.

For the majority of the first half, both teams shared the possession. Keynsham’s set piece once again was working seamlessly with locks Corey Talbot and Gareth Jones linking up well with hooker Paul Coops in the line out while the sizeable back row of Ben Newman, Hayden Johnson and captain and number 8 Jack Weston were making the hard yards. 

The turning point in the half and ultimately the game was at a Quins attacking scrum just five metres from the Keynsham try line. As they looked to attack the blind side through their number 8, Hickery and wing, a seemingly over complicated switch move backfired as Keynsham’s scrum half John Pearce read the play and intercepted the ball to run the entire length of the pitch, showing his pace and determination to see off the covering defenders for the first try of the game. Davies’ conversion attempt was close but just short, 3-8.

From the restart, Quins looked to assert some authority on the game but some impressive carries from the Keynsham forwards, most notably a barnstorming run by prop Phil Harvey, showed Keynsham had no intention of letting Quins into the game, taking the half time score to 3-8.

With the second half under way, Keynsham upped the tempo and continued to carry hard and work the tiring Quins pack around the pitch. Some good interplay between the backs and forwards stretched the home defence and after half a dozen phases, Newman picked and went from the back of a ruck shrugging off six defenders as he powered his way over the line. Davies added the extras taking Keynsham ahead 3-15. 

Davies added another successful kick minutes later with Quins once again on the back foot and penalised for not releasing the tackled player. 3-18.

Like in the first half, except this time with the wind and slope in their favour, Keynsham continued to  keep the home side playing from deep with the amber and black’s defence realigning well to quell any potential threats. 

As the game entered the last quarter, Quins sensed some momentum in their favour and a number of penalties and errors from Keynsham allowed the home side to secure good field territory allowing them to resort to their favoured driving maul and pick and go. However, unlike in previous contests, the visitors stood strong and held off a number of waves of attack.

A chip through with around 10 minutes remaining saw Pearce see yellow for slowing down the ball as a fumble provided Quins with attacking ball five metres from Keynsham’s line with the visitors’ defence still retreating. A resulting scrum and man advantage proved too much allowing their winger to crash over in the corner. 8-18.

However, any hopes of a Quins revival was quickly quashed shortly after the restart. An attacking line out inside Quins’ 10 metre line saw the Keynsham forwards rumble their maul towards the line. Once again, Newman peeled off the back of the maul drawing in defenders and then offloading to the supporting Coops, who ran in for the match deciding try. Davies added the extras to make the final score 8-25.

Captain Weston said: “It was another really good win. Its been a long time since we’ve won at Quins so it's good to get that monkey off our backs. Defensively we were superb and clinical in attack which kept the scoreboard ticking over.

“Its going to be a big week leading up to next Saturday’s game against Matson, which should be a real test to wrap up a great first half to this season.”