Seasiders suffer defeat for the first time
By Pete Sloman
match report by Tony Russell, and photos courtesy of Andrew Collins
Weston lost their unbeaten record in a sub standard performance at Rackerhayes, much to the delight of a euphoric and excitable crowd.
To summarise the game, N.A. kicked off at 2.30, and Weston kicked off at 3.00 by which time the hosts were well into their stride, and 15 points to the good.
The home side hit the ground running, looking far more aggressive, positive and efficient than the strangely lethargic visitors. Rations of raw meat in Devon have obviously been increased!!
Fly half Wright opened the scoring with a simple penalty after four minutes, and six minutes later converted a try by Smith which owed more to Westons’ largesse than N.A. creativity…but still worth seven points however one views it. This lead was increased after 20 minutes when Cole flopped over from close range following a driving maul. Wrights’ conversion attempt hit the post but it mattered little as Weston continued to struggle in all areas.
They finally joined the game after 35 minutes when prop forward Hobbs drove over from close range following a series of rucks on the N.A. line. Mackay converted to close to 7-15, which became 10-15 following a penalty on 38 minutes…a scoreline that Weston readily accepted considering their misfiring team.
Unfortunately, on the stroke of halftime, they coughed up possession for the umpteenth time from their own lineout (an area that malfunctioned all afternoon) and N.A worked their way downfield to receive a penalty in front of the posts to bring up an 18-10 half time scoreline.
The visitors were first on the board in the second half with an extraordinary score, totally against the run of play. The All Whites attacked to within five metres of the Weston line….the ball squirted out of a ruck and winger James Arnold reacted quickest to hack the ball 95 metres downfield, outstripping the cover to touch down with nobody within ten metres…his sixth try of the season. Weston had been under the cosh for virtually the whole of the first half, and were only three points adrift.
The next twenty minutes were played out in midfield, with the home side continuing to look the more likely scorers although the Weston scrummage had finally come to the party, with the N.A. eight starting to creak. However the hosts managed to benefit twice, and butchered a couple of other chances, in almost identical circumstances, with close range tries from Newman and Stroud. Wrights’ kicking had by this time deserted him completely and the conversions, and a couple of kickable penalties, were spurned. Nevertheless, at 28-15 up with ten minutes remaining, they were nearly home and dry, and in all honesty, they deserved their lead.
The last ten minutes were all about Weston. They finally made ground towards the opponents line in search of seven points, and a possible bonus point and following four elected scrums, all awarded as penalties against the hosts’ scrum which had hoisted the white flag, and collapsed consistently and readily, full back Smee crossed for his first try in Weston colours. Mackay held his nerve to slot the important conversion.
This reversal should serve as a wake up call prior to the visit of Brixham next Saturday (kick off 3.00p.m.), and will have provided much food for thought for the coaching panel, but looking for positives from an unsatisfactory day, if the team can play like that and still come within a score, then there is plenty of room for optimism, although the concession of four tries will not sit easily.
The League is already at this early stage separating into two distinct sections, with any team in the top half seemingly capable of beating any other.
Weston team…Smee, Watkins, Jones, Edwards, Arnold, Mackay, Disney (Bennett), hobbs, Burge, Price (Donegan), Eaton (Wright), Somers, Simpson, Morrissey, Sparks.