Pats find it tough going as they slip to home defeat
OLD Patesians failed to establish any continuity in their game management, particularly in attack, and were deservedly wiped out in the second half by Old Redcliffians in their National Three South West clash.
This always looked like it was going to be a tough match for Pats because Old Reds had beaten table-toppers Lydney last time out and they were bubbling with confidence as they kicked off down the slope at Everest Road.
Pats second row Josh Stevens pinched the visitors' first lineout and set up a penalty goal chance, but the normally reliable James Butler hooked the ball wide.
Disciplined drives by the Old Reds forwards twice caught Pats offside and their fly-half Ashley Groves potted two penalty goals with five minutes gone.
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Pats responded well when fly-half Matt Dean, playing his last game for the club before moving to Scotland to start a new job on Wednesday, made a break and after he was illegally stopped Butler hoofed over the penalty goal.
Groves bombarded Pats with a series of territory-seeking garryowens, but Pats full-back Danny Burrows, who is more often deployed on the wing, was impressively safe under the high ball and counter-attacked from deep with relish and good pace.
Pats won two penalty lineouts in the top left-hand corner, with flanker Nathan Riley taking clean ball off the top to set up the catch and drive for his side.
On both occasions the ball was spilled on release and Old Reds were awarded turnover defending scrums on their five-metre line.
On the second feed, the ball squirted out of the channel and Pats flanker Craig Ballinger snapped up the ball on the blindside and was over in a flash for a try to put Pats in front for the first time in the game.
Pats survived two penalty scrums on their own goal line, with Ballinger winning a vital turnover and hooker Rob White courageously dropping on the ball and taking the pain of the rucking boots without murmur of complaint.
Old Reds continued to dominate territory thanks to Groves' boot and left wing Joe Woodward was on the end of a sweeping move for a try in his corner.
Old Reds lost prop Lewis Wilson to the sin-bin after collapsing a maul, but Pats were unable to take advantage and were punished by two further Groves penalty goals to put his side 17-8 in front at half-time.
After the interval Pats had a calamitous restart. Dean failed to make the requisite 10 metres with hs drop-out and Old Reds were awarded the turnover scrum on the halfway line.
Pats were all over the place with two midfield players out for the count after a clash of heads leaving room for Wilson to score a try, converted by Groves.
Pats roused themselves with a number of steamrolling drives from the forwards.
The ball was smuggled and well concealed deep in their ranks until it was deemed time to release to the backs.
This was when the wheels came off their game plan with frequent fumbles, passes to ground or behind the receiver, or loose kicks inviting counter-attacks.
Old Reds lost Sean Fox to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on and he was joined by Pettigrew for a block on scrum-half Graeme Beveridge, who was capped 10 times by Scotland.
There was plenty of huff and puff from Pats as well as the indomitable spirit and leadership qualities of Stickland.
But it was not enough and Old Reds wrapped up the game with a second try for Woodward, converted by the impeccable Groves.
Old Patesians: D Burrows, J Ballinger, J Butler, B Spry, T Hepi, M Dean, J Aherne, G Knowles, R White, C Thompson, J Stickland, J Stevens, N Riley, C Ballinger, J Pettigrew. Replacements (all used, interchange ruling): C Dean, J Barker, M Stewart.
Old Redcliffians: H Goldson, S Britton, D Harris, J Wilmott, J Woodward, A Groves, R Stevens, L Wilson, J Hooper, J Morse, A Davies, C Pursall, S Fox, M Woodward, D Fry. Replacements (all used, interchange ruling): G Templar, S Hazard, G Beveridge.
Referee: C Bennett (Somerset Society)
Man of the match: Old Redcliffians fly-half Ashley Groves