Oldfield Old Boys 15 -v Winscombe 1sts 26
Read on - 2 Match Reports available
Short Report from John Podpadec
Winscombe 1sts travelled to Bath to face Oldfield Old Boys at the weekend and came away with a win that may prove to be vital to their hopes of remaining in Tribute Western Counties North.
Oldfield started brightly and belying their position at the bottom of the league opened up a 15 point lead with two well taken tries and a penalty.
The tide turned decisively ten minutes before halftime, however, when James Flowers cut a perfect line through the Oldfield defence to score under the posts with Alec Chase crashing over soon after. Jim Merryfield added both conversions leaving the game neatly poised at 15-14.
The second half was dominated by the Winscombe forwards and was played in large part inside the Oldfield 22, their driving maul from a 10 metre line-out rumbled up to the line and saw Will Thomas cross for a try. With ten minutes remaining an overthrown Oldfield line-out ball was eagerly taken by Alec Chase who crossed for his second try, securing a Winscombe bonus point, Merryfield adding the conversion. In the dying moments of the game Oldfield pressed for a try themselves and a losing bonus point but were denied by a well organised and ferocious Winscombe defence.
Longer Report from David Howell
Given their lowly League positions both teams needed a win but bottom-of-the -table Oldfield the more so and they came out firing. The Winscombe defence was soon being stretched and gaps appeared, first from a counter-attack and then a line-out from which they looked to have scored after only four minutes. Flat accurate passing on the twenty-two ended with a clean break in midfield but the final ball was harshly deemed forward by the referee. An early let-off for the visitors.
A scrambling Winscombe defence then just held out against two expansive counter-attacks launched from clearing kicks between which Oldfield hit the left upright with a penalty kick at goal. Despite losing their impressive outside centre to a nasty knee injury they still managed to move the ball wide right after the number eight rescued it from a retreating scrummage on the twenty-two. When it went left again the defence was stretched far too easily for a stroll-in after twelve minutes of Oldfield pressure.
From the restart Oldfield were held up in the maul and from the scrummage Owen Howell's break gave Winscombe their first front-foot ball of the match resulting in a kickable penalty that was sent wide. From the drop-out Oldfield again mounted a sweeping counter-attack from a Winscombe kick and were rewarded with a penalty thirty-five metres out to go 8-0 up after the first quarter.
Oldfield spilled the restart and Winscombe were again successful going wide from the scrummage with Ben Irons coming into the line from fullback. They then reverted to using their forwards close in only to lose control of the ball in contact three times in quick succession. After their dynamic start Oldfield's supply of possession was dwindling but another clearing kick sent them on a flowing counter-attack from forty metres out for a converted try in the thirty-third minute to stretch the lead to 15-0.
Winscombe were now content to keep the ball close, going through the phases, eschewing the open spaces, to calm the game down. This brought them a couple of penalties and an advanced field position but they didn't look likely to score until James Flower produced a trademark run, coming in off the blind-side wing with perfect timing onto a late pass to squeeze through a narrow gap to go under the posts on the stroke of half-time. Jim Merryfield added the extras. A psychologically important score after such a good opening by the home side who had now lost two players to injury.
Oldfield managed two brief counter-attacks from Winscombe kicks at the start of the second half but their burgeoning scrummage superiority and physicality up front brought the visitors two more penalty awards enabling them to kick and drive their way to the right corner from where Alec Chase was able to rumble over for a try converted by Merryfield.
A seemingly tiring and rather dispirited Oldfield were restricted to kicking out of defence, unable now to find room to counter-attack, as Winscombe were pressing home their advantage, albeit with little fluency until another brace of penalties gave them the chance of a five metre put-in from which they inevitably took the lead courtesy of a Will Thomas try converted by Merryfield.
The game continued in a similar pattern to little effect until a speculative kick to the corner after a drive by Thomas resulted in Oldfield overthrowing ten metres from their line to gift Chase his second try for the bonus point and take the score to 15-26 with seventeen minutes remaining.
A long raking kick by Howell immediately had Winscombe back within five metres of the home line but a series of seven penalty awards enabled Oldfield to make their way upfield and finish the match striving in vain for a try to earn a losing bonus point but their early excellence had long deserted them and Winscombe were not in the mood to concede again.
The win took Winscombe into tenth place with Oldfield still at the foot of the table eight points away.
Chase, Thomas and Dan Fryer were eager to carry into contact, Andy Ball was combative throughout, Irons caught cleanly and looked lively, and Howell invariably.