Top of the table toppled!
Match report courtesy of Sam Waterman
Weston United hosted unbeaten Winscombe who only needed 1 point to secure promotion from Somerset Premier into Western Counties on a cool and slightly breezy Friday night. This had been anticipated as one of the matches of the season, and it didn’t disappoint. Winscombe had brought a sizeable contingent on the sideline, with a very “Exeter-esque” drum being continuously beaten by one person!
Weston, playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, had been able to field the strongest side possible with players returning from injury and the club interchange policy being utilised. The game opened in typical style with a hotly contested arm-wrestle by the tubby funsters (excluding RJ you whippet and your opposite number!). The backs also managing to cancel each other out with strong defensive work.
Winscombe have been renowned for a strong pack working the hard yards, but the Weston lads were more than up to the task. Aaron Solomon was a last minute change for the injured Ed Hunt… apparently he managed to find some fast-twitch fibres in that carcass of his and tweaked a hamstring on Thursday night. Had it not been for the wind, clearly Aaron would have produced his 100% throwing record that he displayed playing for the Development on Saturday. However, Dr Scrum stepped up and hit 2 from 2… is there nothing this boy can’t do?! Clearly he felt the need to celebrate on Saturday and recite tales of years gone by to me… cheers Streeter! Other news in the front row was Ramaz breaking his nose, definitely spoiling the big Georgian’s model-like looks!
Winscombe were first to strike. Their number 8 returning a missed touch-finder, and seemingly evaded 3 would-be tacklers to offload nicely to a supporting player. The ball was kept alive through 2 or 3 more sets of hands before they crossed for a converted try. It looked great if you were a Winscombe supporter, but woeful defence if you’re from Weston! A few words amongst the players and they got back to the task at hand. A penalty about 35m out gave Dan Lomax a reasonably simple effort to make it 3-7.
Continued Weston pressure from the kick off, coupled with accurate kicking out of hand from Lomax saw the United move down into the Winscombe final third. A Winscombe infringement allowed Lomax to gamble with a cross-field kick… which was excellently timed for Oli Caton to collect and score wide out. Great try worthy of the equally impressive touchline conversion from Lomax… were you on a promise or something from the missus mate?! 10-7 and the rest of the half was played out.
The lads returned to the sheds for half time, and sat there all doe-eyed and sweaty as Dicko delivered the half time chat. He’d been building up to it whilst marshalling the far touchline with Mr Tttttttt, all the time bending poor old Gunner’s ear about what to do over the intercoms! All mod-cons we’re not used to in the United… and I didn’t want to wear Reidy’s earpiece for fear of contracting something!
Turning around with a 3 point lead into the wind was going to be a tough ask for the lads, especially against the well-drilled Winscombe. And it was the visitors who were first to strike in the 2nd half after 52 minutes. Nothing more than a deserved try for continued pressure on the Weston line. Conversion missed so left Weston only two points behind at 10-12.
Holes were beginning to appear in both sides, but the scramble defence was equal to the task every time. The lads putting their bodies on the line and utilising the 8-interchange rule to good effect. Weston had swapped their two vets over half time with “Taff” Darren Doughty making way for Dave Steele. Both guys proving why they can still do a good job at this level… bring on next season with the Dad’s Army team! The more youthful backrow of Spelman, Johnston and Morrissey were working hard around the park. RJ always elbow deep in a ruck scrabbling for ball and Spelman carrying well.
With just over 60 minutes on the clock Weston crossed for what proved to be the final and decisive score. Great work recycling the ball by all players, and it was then spun wide for Matt Watkins to round his opposite number and score in the corner. Conversion missed by Lomax, leaving it at 15-12.
The final play of the game was rather bizarre, with the Winscombe scrum half kicking the ball off the pitch to secure the bonus point for losing. Personally, I’d have been pushing to try and steal a win… but congratulations Winscombe; a very successful season resulting in promotion. Good luck to Graham, Baller and all the lads for next season. Hopefully you don’t repeat the previous efforts of Stothert & Pitt or Gordano and come straight back down. I sincerely hope the club maintains status in that league.
As for the Weston lads, a fantastic win and great all round effort. Not a single bit of energy was not left on the pitch, and it’s matches like this one that make me proud to be involved. Everyone had been in a battle, but did what nobody else has done this season and topple Winscombe! It teed things up nicely for the 1s to win on Saturday… and then a great party celebrate the Milkman’s 30th birthday.
Notable performances from a number of players including the likes of Spelman, Robbie Mackay, Lomax, Middlemiss… but man of the match goes to Oli Caton. He worked tirelessly all game, scored a great try, was heavily involved in the lead up to the other try… and was one of the last to leave the club, albeit socialising with the opposition!