Alcester hosted Oxfordshire side Witney for the first time, on a bright and crisp winter’s morning at King’s Coughton and an even contest ensued.
The well drilled visitors, who play regular league rugby in their area, started brightly and came close to scoring on a number of occasions before they eventually did, with wing Alex Chiles preventing one score when he held up the big Witney number 8 over the line, after he had picked up from the back of a short range scrum.
Eventually the visitors’ pressure told and they raced into a 17-0 lead inside the half hour to take the game away from Alcester. Whereas in previous seasons against good opposition such as this, Alcester would have buckled and ended up with a 40 point plus defeat, this year’s squad is made of sterner stuff and they fought back well in the closing stages of the half. From their first spell of sustained pressure they reduced the deficit through a well taken score from right wing Dom Evans after a flowing back line move. Skipper Josh Godson‘s conversion attempt fell just short of the posts to leave the half time score at 17-5 in the Oxfordshire men’s favour.
Unfortunately for Alcester fly half Godson had to leave the field through injury at half time. Dom Evans filled in with Hamish Skinner replacing Alcester’s first half try scorer, in one of six changes made at the break.
Witney scored a fourth try in the opening exchanges of the half, before the game entered a very scrappy phase, typified by Alcester’s second score, which came as a result of several fly hacks and some hesitant defence by Witney; the home side’s Alex Chiles winning the touch down to loose ball over the line.
The red and blacks enjoyed their best spell of the game after this and could really have scored two more tries with both no 8 Ed Goddard and scrum half Sam Smith coming close. Smith actually lost control of the ball as he crossed the line from a short range tap penalty, which allowed Witney to break down field and score a break away try against the run of play and to close the game out.
There were several positives in defeat for Alcester; the line out functioned well this week, on the back of the previous Tuesday night training session with club Director of Rugby, Nick O’Connor. Joint men of the match Ed Goddard and Josh Major Seager both gave whole hearted performances, whilst Dom Evans stood in well at fly half in a position he doesn’t favour.