Basildon First XV Beat Upminster First XV
Strong win at home shows Basildon RFC progression
Basildon RFC welcomed Upminster RFC to The Onion Bowl on Saturday in a London NE League Division 3 Essex encounter. With Upminster beating us twice in last season’s corresponding league fixtures, the game would benchmark how far this emerging Basildon XV has come this season. Basildon gave a debut to former U18 player Connor Murphy on the wing and in came lock forward Robin Groves for Connor Haylett. We also saw the eagerly awaited return of back-row forward Mitchell Cairns to the subs bench. Top points scorer for Basildon this year, Sam Ridley also returned to the side, as did tight head prop Taylor Bramley. The weather was warm for the time of year, overcast with a quite strong westerly wind. The pitch condition was very firm and the referee was London Society, Joel Brookfield.
The game started well for the much bigger Basildon pack that immediately put pressure on the Upminster defence deep inside their own 22. Upminster defended well, but from the first scrum, it was plain to see how much stronger the Basildon front five were. With the power turned on, the Basildon pack drove Upminster’s scrum back at a rate of knots. From a scrum turnover inside the Basildon 10m line, the ball was stolen and quickly moved through the fly Half Sam Ridley and with the hard running centre, Bradley Long attacked Upminster’s midfield, with some breathtaking interplay and no less than nine Basildon players linking in pass exchanges, the ball was finally run wide to fullback Jon Berry and then moved inside to scrum half Dan Rowley to finish off a truly outstanding try. The conversion was taken by Sam Ridley.
After last weekend’s debacle at restarts, Forwards Coach Kris Chesney had worked hard with the Basildon forwards to put things right, this weeks side quickly showed they had learnt the lessons. Restart secured, Basildon’s pack, started to exert itself onto Upminster and led by veteran blindside Lee Amman, began to dominate. Yet setbacks are never far away and Basildon had two within minutes of each other. First Basildon’s pocket battleship centre, Aaron Beach left the field with a groin strain, replaced by the hard-hitting Brad Johnson and then new signing, open side Kevin Reed left with a twisted knee, on came the burly Mitchell Cairns. The Basildon pack set itself back to the task of dismantling Upminster’s forwards. It was not much longer before Basildon scored its second try of the day. Again an easy shot at goal declined, the ball was put into touch 7m out, with hooker Jon Berry hitting Groves, the ball secured and easily driven over for Captain Jim Harman to score the first of his two tries. The conversion was missed.
The next period of the game saw Upminster finally get some hand on ball time and they came back strongly and with some good movement by their three-quarters, they managed to catch Basildon offside at a ruck, with the penalty secured they took a shot at goal that was missed. This was to be the only opportunity Basildon offered to Upminster to score in the first half. From the restart, the Basildon forwards took the ball and starting to bring in it's hard running forwards, Elliott Keefe, Lee Amman and Jim Harman, harmonised with good ruck clearance by Brad Day and Mitchell Cairns, meant the Basildon three quarters had the room and clean ball to use and with Sam Ridley pulling the strings, a very clever miss move saw fullback Jon Bonnet get the ball on the wing, step inside, then out and bravely take a good cover tackle as he scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.
The halftime score Basildon RFC 17-0 Upminster RFC
Basildon started the second half as they did the first by putting direct pressure on the Upminster pack. Again and again, good phase ball was won which enabled Sam Ridley to orchestrate his backs. With another good platform secured and Upminster’s defence sucked in, a simple exchange and dummy runner allowed fullback Jon Bonnett the space to walk in for his second try between the posts. The conversion was completed by Ridley.
With the match now virtually won, on came prop James Bunce to add his energy to the side and quickly got into the game by catching a good restart kick. But with all three subs now on the field and the fast pace Basildon had played at starting to tell, Upminster, led by their hooker, began to come back into the game and they scored a well worked converted try.
But this Basildon side was not finished scoring. Again, led by its hard-working pack, they worked and pushed hard to the Upminster try line and with another lineout secured 5m’s out, the catch and drive soon followed with prop and Captain Jim Harman scoring his second try of the day. Upminster rallied again from the restart to score another converted try, but by now this was merely a consolation.
Final score Basildon RFC 31- 14 Upminster RFC.
Head Coach Cushi said “ We took a good step forward today, after last weeks disjointed game, we worked hard in training to put things right, the mindset and preparation for this game were much better and our patterns of play established early. A good days work”.
Forwards Coach Chesney said; “We worked well as a team today, things that went wrong last week were identified and put right in some really good training this week and it showed today”.