Weston sneak home in eight try thriller
By Pete Sloman
Match report to follow, photos courtesy of Andrew Collins
The League is throwing up many close encounters this season, with any of the top seven or eight teams capable of beating one another on their day, and this entertaining match was no exception. Chippenham arrived having narrowly lost just three games, and proved that they are no longer the whipping boys of previous seasons as they came within a penalty goal of upsetting the current status quo.
The home side took an early lead when after only four minutes, hooker Burge went over for a try following some bewildering interplay between the forwards and backs , with Jones and Arnold prominent in the build up. Mackay converted, and repeated the operation six minutes later when flanker Wright went over in similar circumstances to double the lead. He added a penalty three minutes later for a 17-0 lead, and with Chippenham hardly touching the ball. The visitors joined the match after twenty minutes when Surry cut a fine line to bisect the defence. Simmons converted but Weston increased their lead with a regulation pushover try by the pack which Simpson touched down for Mackay to again convert…24-7 and all going well. The pack was its’ usual dominant force, which was very gratifying as Chipp seem to have found a couple of monsters (who fortunately only play in short spells) and the lineout was going well, securing its’ own ball and disrupting that of the opposition. It seemed little more than a minor irritation, an act of largesse when visiting left winger Novik chased down a kick ahead, which had come from a scrum that had turned through 140 degrees (if 300 people can see it, why can’t the referee? although he did have the good grace to admit his error afterwards!!). Nevertheless the try stood, and the lad had run well for his prize. Simmons converted but 24-14 became 29-14 on the stroke of halftime when the pack struck again from a close range lineout for the bonus point try. There was still time for Simmons to add a penalty. 29-17 didn’t really reflect the home side dominance at this stage, but “Nam” had hung in and made the best of their opportunities.
The second half was totally different. Weston appeared to think the game was already won, and slipped into a passive mode, abandoning the tactics that had yielded four tries. Another try would doubtless have killed the opponents off but tackles were missed, touch kicks failed, when all it needed was another inevitable catch and drive, and Chipp, to their credit, never gave up and actually looked the better side. Surry scored his second, benefitting from weak tackling. Simmons converted to close to 29-24. Mackay got 3 points back with the home sides’ only points of the second half but the visitors continued to press, keeping the ball alive. They got their reward with a fourth try from replacement Boddington with ten minutes to play to close to 32-29, and in all honesty looked the more likely scorers. In a rare Weston attack, the “Nam” outside centre intercepted twenty metres from his own line, and set off with an open field in front of him. Fortunately for the home side, he lacked the pace to go all the way and was swallowed up on the Weston 22 metre line by the speedy Watkins and two other tacklers. This was not to be their last chance. After 75 minutes of inactivity, the referee went colour crazy, yellow carding two from the away side and one from Weston. Chipp continued to attack, throwing caution to the winds, and in the eighth minute of injury time, they won a penalty to the left of the posts some thirty metres out.
Simmons, who had kicked well all afternoon, succumbed to the pressure and missed the relative “sitter”. Weston will be happy with their five points, although there will doubtless be much discussion in training as to why it was so close. Chippenham will feel that they deserved more….but they do deserve the plaudits and a thank you from WSM rfc for actually staying at least an hour longer than most other teams to have a post match drink. As all Clubs have discovered, it’s usually “grab a meal, grab an orange juice and get on the coach asap!” …Good effort from Nam !!
Weston team…Bennett (Watkins), Smee, Jones, Edwards, Arnold, Mackay, Waldon, Swann(Donegan), Burge, Hobbs P, Somers, Russell, Wright, Hobbs K.(Eaton), Simpson (c).