Having driven past the impressive College buildings and then immediately bumping into former England coach Andy Robinson I was becoming increasingly excited about this local derby.
Beechen Cliff, formerly home to Freddie and Billy Burns, have recently been awarded AASE status and you could tell immediately the impact it was having this year on the side. Prior Park on the other hand were coming off the back of two losses to Colston’s and King’s College Taunton and were in need of a win to get their season back on track.
After fifteen minutes Prior Park missed a penalty from straight in front the posts, colliding with the woodwork it set the tone for what was a miserable first half for the home side.
After 20 minutes Beechen Cliff received a penalty and kicked for the corner, a set move sent their no.12 in on a crash, the ball was recycled and the outside centre fired a miss pass of his left for the right wing to score in the corner. 5-0 Beechen Cliff.
Shortly after the Beechen Cliff fullback chipped and re-gathered out of his own 22 but a promising attack was halted by a big hit in the midfield which led to a knock on. On their next attacking raid hands down the right hand wing freed up the Beechen Cliff no.14 to round his opposite winger with pace and footwork to score under the posts. 12-0 Beechen Cliff
Beechen Cliff’s half backs were impressive in the opening half, the no.9 showing slick hands and the no.10 was physical and abrasive in both attack and defence. Beechen Cliff’s no.7 went off on the half hour with what looked like a serious knee injury.
Prior Park’s best spell of the first half was off the back of a kick return, the full back fielded the ball breaking several tackles, the fly half threw a long pass out to the 13 who resisted a couple of tackles before off-loading back to the 10.
Sadly it led to nothing and just before half time Beechen Cliff’s impressive no.14 scythed through the line from a kick return, interchanging passes with the no.12 and scoring his second try in the first half. Half time 19-0 Beechen Cliff.
At half time I noticed a stern looking Andy Beattie overlooking the Prior Park huddle. Beattie the former Bath stalwart and also a member of the famous England U18s side containing Wilkinson, Tindall, Sheridan, Borthwick and Balshaw among others.
Prior Park started the second half brightly with their no.16 breaking through, the next phase fly half sliced through in the 22 to make it to five metres out. A few phases later the no.10 again takes on the line offloading to his no.12, the no.12 fed his outside centre who reached over for their first try of the match. Prior Park’s full back converted the try, 19-7 Beechen Cliff.
The comeback was short lived however when a powerful handoff from Beechen Cliff’s no.17 was followed by a neat offload to the languid no.14 who raced in for his hat-trick and was hauled off for his troubles. 26-7 Beechen Cliff.
Prior Park’s no.17 was then sin binned for a dump tackle on the opposition’s left wing but this didn’t seem to deter them for continuing their enterprising start to the half. Prior’s scrum half made a great break down the right hand side before offloading to the outside centre who scored his second of the match. 26-12 Beechen Cliff.
Beechen Cliff rounded off a scrappy second half with a midfield play with the fly half sending a long ball out to the no.13 who trotted over the line. Final score 31-12 Beechen Cliff
Heard on the sideline from some of the younger Beechen Cliff pupils that only a few AASE players were starting, having said that they seemed to have a lot of depth in the squad and several quality players. The introduction of a near professional seteup will no doubt improve the strength of the AASE side and the 1st XV.
The standouts for me were the no.14 who was similar in style to David Strettle, both fly halves played well, no.18 came on later in the match and showed strength in the carry and good footwork.
For Prior Park their blindside flanker proved incredibly strong in the tackle, several hits in the last ten minutes were absolutely brutal. Their no.10 also had a strong game taking on the line and was ably supported by the scrum half.
Full Time: Prior Park College 12-31 Beechen Cliff