RAMS Director of Rugby Seb Reynolds was delighted with the calm his side showed in turning round a slow start into a 50-36 National One victory at home to Birmingham Moseley.
The visitors made a stunning start as they raced into a 10-0 lead inside six minutes, Will Safe and Dan Brough crossing before Connor Stapley, on his 100th appearance, got Rams on the board, Fraser Honey with the conversion.
Freddie Painter and Ryan Roach sealed the bonus-point for Moseley as they led 22-7 early in the third quarter, Tighe Maxwell-Whiteley with an extra two points, but the hosts got within one thanks to converted scores from debutant Mike Hoyt and Henry Bird.
Max Hayman celebrated his 50th cap by putting Rams in front, but Roach’s second, again added to by Mawell-Whiteley, gave Moseley a three-point lead.
Rams RFC Pictures: Paul Clark
However, replacement Ben Atkins grabbed a brace before fellow substitute Ollie Monye grabbed a superb solo score, Honey with another conversion for 45-29.
Brough’s second, again added to, kept Birmingham interested as the clock ticked down, but Zach Clow had the final word with a terrific finish on the left to bring up the half century.
Reflecting on a thrilling spectacle watched by 859 fans, Reynolds said: “It was a good game and both sets of players gave the supporters a real spectacle of National One rugby.
“It’s what everyone aims to do and it was fantastic, watching Birmingham last week you could see they’ve improved from last season and they also had a few new players in. They came out of the blocks firing and with a couple of our errors aiding them, suddenly they got 22 points on the board and we had a job on our hands.
“We stayed calm, though, we played our game and had faith we’d pull through in the end and I credit the lads and their conditioning for being able to apply our skill-set for 80 minutes.”
At the head of the revival was second row Dan Swain, the man-of-the-match putting in an imperious performance to kickstart his second season at the club, the first resulting in selection for the National One Team of the Season.
The DoR continued: “Dan was incredible, and those two charge-downs swung it our way because it knocked their confidence, showed our grit and determination and helped us to come back at them.
“They are not fun moments because you can get a ball in the face, but the way he showed the guts to do it was crucial.”
Also key to the victory were the milestone men Stapley and Hayman. Reynolds said: “I want to make a special mention of those two and hopefully there are plenty more to come.
“But also, the new guys who came in, Mike, Ben, Fraser were fantastic and Ollie Monye off the bench was superb, poaching around the fringes and creating opportunities, plus the ones who did the full 80 minutes.
“Ben’s a good all-round footballer and we wanted him to focus on the breakdown when he came on, but he was also able to get his hands free and make some line breaks.
“For Ollie, sometimes there is long-term development and No. 9 is a specialist position. He transitioned to it late because originally, he was a wing, but now playing top-level rugby, it takes time. You have to have an element of patience – Ollie Cole was our third-choice scrum-half at one point and we’ve seen how he’s come through.
“Monye had to apply game management to his skills and once that’s happened along with the execution on his kick exits, suddenly his natural game also comes to the fore and you have to celebrate it and let it thrive. What he does is unique, and I’m pleased for him.”
While it was the players who turned the game around, the head coach also paid tribute to the supporters who got behind the side, roaring their side onto a 14th home success in Rams’ past 15 Old Bath Road outings.
He said : “It’s great to have the support and the players love it, they’re trying to engage with the supporters and there was a great energy and buzz when we arrived. Thank you to everyone who came along because it’s still summer holidays and there was a massive crowd, everyone enjoyed themselves and we now look forward to Chinnor on Friday night (7.45pm).”
By Richard Ashton