CLEVE opened their preseason programme with a match to coincide with the club’s Cider Festival.
The minis and juniors had a game organised at midday but the weather at that time was poor, so they played in the Bromley Suite. The parents enjoyed the game and then went to enjoy themselves at the Cider Festival.
The weather became favourable before the main event, Cleve versus Imperial, started at 2.30pm, and a crowd gathered to watch the rugby.
Cleve started strongly, driving into the 22 with a number of pick-and-go moves.
A pick up and dart towards the line had Will Warman scoring the first try of the new season at the Hayfields.
The wind was very strong, and this affected the kicking of both fly-halves, so conversations were hard to come by. During this spell of dominance Cleve went over the line a number of times but failed to touch down.
Imperial were now competing well in the rucks and, from an inside break, scored to make it 5-all.
Cleve then began to show what they have been working on during preseason with new backs coach Lewis McKissick. From a scrum and pickup by the Number 8, the ball was moved through hands out to the wing, where Andy Priddle scored.
The way the ball was being moved along the backs showed how much the team has developed under the new coaching system.
Imperial, however, were always competitive and again scored after a period of pressure near the line. They managed a conversion for 15-12.
The game became an end-to-end affair. Cleve maintained their ability to move the ball along the line and scored again, the kicker hitting the post on the conversion attempt: 20-12.
At the start of the second half Imperial drove the ball and were able to recycle it well.
It was their turn to move the ball to the wing and score, to make it 20-17, before going ahead when a mistake and an interception by a back-rower saw him score under the posts.
Will Warman came back on and got the Cleve backs functioning well again. There was also a number of impressive drives by front row forward Steve Bush.
The impact of both was immediate, and Cleve scored to make it 25-24, but were not finished.
With a minute to go, the ball was again moved wide and the winger went through and scored under the posts, for a final score of Cleve 32, Imperial 24.