Weston silence the “Mouth” in opening victory.
By Pete Sloman
match report courtesy of Tony Russell
Weston made the short journey for an intriguing local derby at Shirehampton and opened the new season with an ultimately comfortable victory against the Bristol Combination club which narrowly and doggedly avoided relegation last season, but which has regrouped and recruited extensively for the new campaign. The first half was evenly contested as early season rustiness inevitably took its’ toll, particularly on the visitors who were initially guilty of over eagerness and profligacy but they took the lead after three minutes when James Mackay, in his 100th. game, slotted the first of his four penalties. The home side equalised after 15 minutes with a drop goal from fly-half Matthew Belbin but two more penalties from Mackay in the next ten minutes stretched the lead to 9-3 before Avonmouth scored a good try through replacement prop forward Slouch after a passage of play during which possession was kept and recycled a dozen times in an excellent passage of continuity. The score remained at 9-8 until half time, and the home crowd seemingly far happier than the visitors. “Nil desperandum”…it all came right in the second half. There had been early signs that the visiting pack was far stronger, putting their opponents under severe pressure, and so it proved as the Avonmouth scrum visibly wilted. Mackay kicked his fourth goal after 55 minutes for Weston to lead 12-8 and thereafter the forwards took over. No. 8 George Sparks touched down a simple pushover try on the hour. Prop forward Phil Hobbs rumbled over following another bout of pressure from the pack and lock forward Ashley Russell drove over for Westons’ third try to complete the scoring. All three tries were converted and the match was comfortably won at 33-8 although the visitors will be disappointed at missing out on a bonus point. This is basically the same Weston team that performed well last season but there have been some newcomers. Harvey Skelton has joined from the Dings and looked very accomplished at full back. Second row forward David Bufton, also from Dings, has brought valuable experience and weight to the boiler room and young Chris Webber from Minehead brings physicality and raw potential to the back row. All players have slotted in admirably. It was also good to see the return of vice captain Sylvan Edwards after a niggling injury, and there was a senior debut off the bench for young Robbie Mackay, younger brother of the Weston fly half.
Weston play at home next week against old rivals Barnstaple. Kick off is at 3.00 p.m.
Weston team…Skelton, Jones, Smee, Edwards, Watkins, Mackay J. (Mackay R.), Waldon, Swann (c), Burge, Hobbs, (Price), Glen, Bufton (Russell), Webber, Morrissey, Sparks.