Smiths’ season started with a bang and a flying 50-14 win at Bristol Aeroplanes RFC. The combination of quick ball and structured play saw Smiths secure a first half 4 try bonus point in an impressive opening fixture to their Gloucester 2 campaign.
Despite an overnight deluge, conditions overhead and underfoot were perfect and suited Smiths’ all action style. Captain and double try scorer Ben Hawker set the tone from kick off levelling the BAC catcher and putting them under pressure from the outset.
Apart from an effective lineout drive from BAC, Smiths were fully on top in every facet of the game and the first points on the board from the boot of BAC number 10 were very much against the run of play to make it 3-0 and give them a brief lead.
Another well contested Smiths kick off provided a turnover and Smiths took play to the the BAC 22m line. Prop John Bryant picked and went straight through the middle of a ruck. One of many strong runs, the man of the match thoroughly deserved to score Smiths’ first try of the season. Will Pritchett’s conversion made it 7-3.
Soon after, Charles Peters scored his first of three for the afternoon with Pritchett again on target 14-3.
One negative for Smiths in the first half was the number of penalties conceded despite being in control of the game. Again the BAC 10 took advantage and made it 14-6.
Tyler Rees was next on the score sheet on the end of a fine passage of play using the whole width of the pitch.
Captain Hawker secured the bonus point on 23 minutes with his first try after hitting a hard line off the Smiths backs following a break up the left wing by Andrew Hockley and Pritchett made it 26-6.
With BAC heads down, Smiths were flying and smart inter passing after an initial pacy break by new back row recruit Joe Spry saw Hawker bag his second.
Peters scored his second and Smiths’ sixth after an almost telepathic offload from Hawker and Pritchett converted to complete the first half scoring at 38-6.
Coach Chris Raymond was pleased that his charges had been able to implement the game plan that he and backs coach Rob Nock had put in place but warned against dropping performance levels in the second half.
Unfortunately a 20 minute spell saw Smiths do exactly that, allowing BAC to kick a penalty and score an unconverted try to get back to 38-14. Smiths were not helped by a couple of injuries but were frustrated not to put a complete performance in. A couple of jinking runs from wing Pete Reed were the exception to the below average Smiths play.
The last ten minutes were a different story though with Smiths being more direct and playing in the BAC red zone. The conditioning work that Chris Long has demanded of the players, especially in the pack gave them the edge towards the end. Charles Peters completed his hat trick after some typical gun dog style chasing with Tom Wardell converting in place of the injured Pritchett.
James Irwin-Singer brought the 50 points up with score out wide and the referee called time on an entertaining game.
Compared to a one point loss in the same fixture early last year this was a hugely dominant performance and should send a message to the rest of the league about Smiths’ push for promotion this year.
Irwin-Singer, Reed, Spry. B, Wardell, Hockley, Pritchett, Cook, Bryant, Gale, Mitchell, Watkins, Rees, Spry. J, Peters, Hawker
Reps: Lake, Ginns, Hemming
Smiths’ next challenge comes in the form of Broad Plain RFC away (Bristol) next Saturday 17th September. The club are running a bus down there with a couple of pub stops on the way home (food & drinks included). Please contact John Bryant (JB) for more information.