weston's strength up front sees them home, but Brixham pilfer bonus point
By Pete Sloman
match report by Tony Russell
Forget the misleading report in the Independent and the apparently close scoreline. Brixham will be delighted with their bonus point!
In a match in which both sides tried to produce open rugby, and where defences were generally on top, Westons’ superiority in the pack, particularly in the front row, with Swan and Hobbs once again destroying their opposite numbers, was the decisive factor until the last half an hour when the visitors ran out of front row forwards, the dreaded uncontested scrums were invoked and the match degenerated into farce. Just what a dominant set of forwards doesn’t want, and a lifeline for an ailing pack.
The home side took only three minutes to serve notice as their forwards drove Brixham thirty metres to create a touchdown for hooker Withers.
The latter was to leave the field injured after twenty five minutes to be replaced by Donegan, and which created a problem for Weston at lineouts, still an area of concern.
Brixham captain Flashman followed five minutes later. No bullying this week for the namesake of the literary character from Tom Browns’ Schooldays.
The game remained competitive, but with few clear cut opportunities although Watkins escaped for a fifty metre dash down his wing to be stopped by a last ditch high tackle which went unpunished…. Wirrall laws Mr. McGaffney?
Weston increased their lead to 8-0 on the stroke of half time with a Mackay penalty. Their line hadn’t been threatened.
Five minutes after the restart, the first of the Brixham procession of departing front row forwards started with Stoneman giving way to Worth. Five minutes later, the Weston pack created a simple pushover touchdown for No. 8 Sparks. Mackay converted.
Shortly after this, with it becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the comings and goings of the Brixham front row, (coach Dan Parkes will have to get his boots out next week if this shortage of props continues and these fine pilgrims have not recovered), the aforementioned uncontested scrums were introduced. Lovell kicked a penalty to get the visitors on the board, but the Home pack produced another 25 metre driving maul allowing Sparks a second try, and a comfortable 20-3 lead. This was to be the end of Westons’ scoring as they were no longer allowed to drive their ailing opponents off their ball at the set piece. This seemed to galvanise Brixham, who with newly allowed gratuitous possession, mounted a series of attacks.
Winger Davis scored a fine individual try, chipping ahead and picking up a friendly bounce to close to 20-8. Weston then had two players yellow carded, one warranted, one ridiculous, and the visitors took advantage for Brown to get a late try in the eighth minute of injury time. 20-3 had become 20-15.
One shudders to think what might have happened if the match had gone on much longer. Brixham had been outmuscled for an hour, and had lost by only five points to return with an unexpected losing bonus point….lucky fellows…..strange days indeed.
Weston team…Bennett, Watkins (Oupuh), Jones, Edwards, Arnold, Mackay,
Swann, Withers (Donegan), Hobbs, Somers, Wright (Eaton), Simpson (c), Morris, Sparks.