Keynsham Rugby lose out to Matson in dying minutes

April 21 2016

Second-placed Keynsham pushed the league winners all the way to the final whistle in a valiant performance away at Matson on April 16. Full time score Matson 36 Keynsham 33.

April 2016

by Rob Breckon

Second-placed Keynsham pushed the league winners all the way to the final whistle in a valiant performance away at Matson on April 16. Full time score Matson 36 Keynsham 33.

Keynsham made the eagerly anticipated trip up the M5 to face top-of-the league side Matson. The amber and blacks took a coach full of faithful supporters and had made five changes to the previous week’s side that crushed Bristol Harlequins.

The visitors started the game with great tempo. Retaining possession well and making good yards with each carry, the early pressure told and lock Corey Talbot sliced through a gap to touch down under the posts. Centre Toby Williams converted. 0-7.

However, Keynsham’s early score was soon nullified on the ten-minute mark following a knock on in the midfield allowing Matson’s fly half to stab a cross field kick into the hands of the waiting winger who sprinted in from 40 metres. 5-7.

Following the restart, Keynsham again retained the ball well and worked their way back towards Matson’s try line with strong carries from Talbot and flanker Callum Fennel. A six-man line out catch and drive powered over the try line but was deemed to be held up, letting the home side off.

Another spilt ball by Keynsham provided Matson with their second try and lead for the first time in the game with 25 minutes played. Matson’s scrum half was quick to react and following spotting a gap, released the ball to the supporting centre who coasted in under the posts. 12-7.

The momentum then shifted again and Keynsham were on the front foot and controlling both possession and territory. Following a number of solid phases and another maul held up over the line a scrum ensued. The solid platform found fly half Joe Davies who showed good vision and footwork to ghost through and score making the scores 12-14.

With Matson’s heads seemingly down as the half time whistle arrived, Keynsham capitalised and touched down for a third time.  Another powerful five-metre scrum forced a penalty and with Matson napping and moaning at the referee’s decision, Fennel acted quickly to tap and go and dive over. Half time score 12-19.

Following some strong words at half time, a riled Matson started the second half the stronger and were near to scoring early on except for winger Marlon Dorsett to bring down Matson’s centre just metres from the try line. However, a handful of penalties allowed Matson to launch an attacking five-metre line out and after a number of close phases, burrowed over to tie the score at 19 all.

Keynsham then showed what had earned them a play-off shot this season with a positive reply. A number of strong carries allowed scrum half Sam Challenger to dart through a gap and subsequently find Davies to score his second try of the game with 20 minutes remaining. 19-26.

The game was beginning to resemble end-to-end rugby when, five minutes later, Keynsham’s failure to clear their lines hurt them with Matson’s nine dotting down following a strong drive and forward play. A missed conversion meant the hosts trailed by two points, 24-26.

As the game entered the final ten minutes and the pressure increased, a forward pass from Matson provided Keynsham with a platform to attack from. Another solid scrum created an overlap and winger Adam Tesdale crashed over for what looked to secure the win. 24-33.

However, Matson’s unbeaten record didn’t happen by chance and they hit back. Following a dubious tackle in which Keynsham’s reaction provided Matson with a penalty, the home side kicked to the corner and thereby caught and drove over to take the scores to 29-33.

As the game entered the final five minutes the contest became frenetic with both sides attacking and defending with all that they had.

Tesdale found space on the outside and offloaded to centre Dan Moody who knocked on in the tackle with just enough time for the scrum in which Matson were awarded a penalty.

In the final minutes which seemed to last far longer, the home side worked their way up the field from inside their 22 in which Keynsham went down to 13 men following two successive yellow cards. Despite the man advantage, Keynsham’s defence remained resolute until the final play where a short range effort crept through and stole the victory from Keynsham. Full-time score Matson 36 Keynsham 33.

Captain Weston said: “It was a fantastic performance by the guys and it was a gutting way to end the game, but we can take a lot of positives from it.

“Being able to make five changes from last week and still perform as we did shows our strength in depth and it's made the selection even harder for the play-off game as more lads have put their names in the hat after today.”