Derby delight for Johnstone and his Cleve team
HEAD COACH Paul Johnstone was delighted with Cleve's derby win over Old Redcliffians at The Hayfields.
And the Zimbabwean-born former Bristol prop put his side's victory down to a collective desire to win and sheer hard work.
He said: "When we came out before the game to warm up, I could tell straight away that I wouldn't need to make any kind of motivational speech – the boys were up for it today.
"We trained well during the week and the derby factor added a bit more edge and extra focus.
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"We've got a blend of youth and experience in the team and I thought we played the right tactics for the majority of the contest.
"I thought our defence was magnificent, and we took both of our try-scoring opportunities."
Tries in each half from wing Shack Ajuwa and a penalty from full-back Ollie Phillips proved decisive. Reds' scrum-half Jack Steer scored his side's only points with two well-struck penalties.
The visitors made a lively start and dominated the opening exchanges, but, crucially, they failed to convert early try-scoring opportunities.
The home side were a more cohesive unit at the scrum and were able to generate a steady stream of possession at the line-out, with flanker Dan Leer particularly impressive.
Cleve were also more physical and showed a greater urgency at the breakdown. As a result, the visitors' dangerous back division seldom received the ball on the front foot.
Steer's fifth-minute penalty opened the scoring for Reds, but Cleve responded when Ajuwa was put clear by No 8 Harry Goodfield, the man-of-the-match, after his fellow forwards had turned Reds over at a ruck.
The Brislington-based side had their moments, but the Cleve defence proved to be their strongest suit.
Ajuwa crashed over for his second try midway through the second half after Reds, who were reduced to 14 men when flanker Scott Blankley was dispatched to the sin-bin for handling in a ruck, left the dangerous winger unattended from a five-metre scrum.
The game was held up for 13 minutes when Cleve flanker Otto Avent suffered medial and cruciate ligament damage, which needed hospital treatment.
The visitors did show greater urgency and desire following the break in play, and finished in the ascendancy, with centre Dave Harris and wing Craig Owen the most threatening attackers in Reds' armoury. But the home side held firm to claim a deserved win.
Old Reds coach Graeme Beveridge said: "It's not all doom and gloom. We know we can play better than we did today, but despite being well below par, we still managed a bonus-point."
Clevedon trailed to a Dan Hussey try in their tussle with Thornbury, but rallied to record a 13-5 victory at Coleridge Vale.
The home side were always in control, but squandered several try-scoring opportunities. Dean Ashfield claimed a try, while Jamie Huxtable kicked a conversion and two penalties.
Weston remain top of National Three South following their 37-10 win over new-boys Malvern.
Wing James Arnold led the way with a hat-trick of tries. Matthew Watkins, Paul Morrissey and James Mackay, who also booted two conversions and a penalty, added further scores for the Seasiders.
Avonmouth, who are still in search of their maiden league victory, battled hard before slumping to a 35-8 defeat at Barnstable. Greg Long scored 'Mouth's only try. Joe Wearne added a penalty.