Seasiders edge home at Rackerhayes
By Pete Sloman
Match report courtesy of Tony Russell.
“A game of mass disruptions” reported the Independent on Sunday morning, and this was indeed the case.
Westons’ disruptions started in selection on Tuesday night when no less than five first team forwards and a couple of backs gave notice of their unavailability, for a variety of reasons (and not an “International flu” victim amongst them). The Clubs’ playing resources were to be severely tested…the coaches were still seeking players to travel on Friday night!!
However fixtures must be fulfilled and a team arrived accordingly.
NABs’ disruptions started five minutes into the match when their flanker was red carded for a tip tackle on Westons’ Sam Smee.
Obviously this prompted much discussion from the “cognoscenti” on the sidelines…..was it intentional? Was it instinctive? Was it vindictive? Was the duty of care considered? Should it be RED or YELLOW? etc. etc. Smees’ legs had undoubtedly pointed skywards, and well above the horizontal and referee Karl Gibson had no hesitation in following the RFU diktat re. spear tackles. At the end of the day, if it can happen to Welsh captain Warburton in a World Cup match, then it can certainly happen to a chap called Keenan at Rackerhayes. Consistency rules!
There were few signs of scoring for the bulk of the half as defences dominated. A portent of things to come happened after 25 minutes. Home prop Tichias departed with a leg injury, but he had experienced a horrible time, “popping up” regularly in the set scrums, which were an area of superiority for the visiting pack which unsurprisingly had the seven home forwards on the back foot from the outset.
Nevertheless the home side opened the scoring on 37 minutes when winger Holt joined the line to cross in the corner for an unconverted try.
Weston replied in kind on the stroke of half time when the backs combined for full back Bennett, who enjoyed an excellent match, to cross for a 5-5 scoreline.
There was much activity during the interval. NAB lost captain and hooker Avery, who limped off in obvious discomfort. This would lead to the invocation of the dreaded uncontested scrums…but the reduction in numbers does not apply until a scrum is actually required.
Consequently, the second half commenced with both sides having 14 players. Fisher had been “binned” for the visitors and NAB had not yet had to lose another player, and after four minutes, Weston lost possession in their 22. The home backs combined for Smith to cross unopposed, and to convert his own try….12-5 to the enemy!
Weston scored a second try after 54 minutes through Glen from a close range drive as weight of numbers told. It was not converted and the home side still lead by 12-10.
As often happens, the side with reduced numbers tends to find reserves previously untapped. It is a moot point whether or not uncontested scrums favour the weaker side. Certainly they guarantee possession, which in this case would have been highly unlikely as Westons’ obvious strength in the pack was negated. Secondly there is no physical pressure on either pack, and players find reserves of energy not drained by scrummaging.
Territorial pressure finally yielded a penalty opportunity for Skelton to land the match winning points. 12-13 and a hitherto unexpected escape from gaol for Weston at a ground where they do not have a great record, and whose patched up team of happy travellers deserves enormous credit.
Congratulations are extended to Harry Nash on his first team debut.
Team…Bennett, Bellek, Smee, Edwards, Jones, Skelton, Waldon,
Swann, Withers, Price, Glen, Hunt, Pullen, Fisher, Main.
Replacements…all used. Donegan, Nash, Trott.
N.B…. As previously mentioned the Clubs’ playing resources were severely tested, but both the United and Athletic teams were able to record wins. For the second week running, a full house. Well done to all concerned.