Top of the Table Gosford prove too much for Witney
Rich Robbins runs riot scoring a hat-trick as Tim Davies tackles himself in a game that was played in great spirits.
Following the league leader’s emphatic win the week before to a courageous Stow on the Wold squad, this week the All Blacks would welcome bottom of the league Witney to Stratfield Brake. With the elements taking a very ‘wet’ turn, the usual second team pitch was more of a swamp then battlefield, so the II’s were elevated to the first team pitch.
With the grass well-watered Witney were already on the back foot before the whistle had blown, due to short demand in the III’s regular IV’s were sent up to fill the gaps leaving the blue’s with only 14, which included a few inexperienced forwards. However, in true Witney spirit they wanted to press on and were eager to give the All Blacks a tough contest, making them earn their spot at the top of the BBO4N.
With the ref getting the game underway it was the All Blacks to kick first, Rich Robbins opted for a ‘tactically’ placed grubber kick to get proceedings underway. As it scuddered awkwardly along the ground it bounced over the first Witney forward and being knocked on by the second. Leading to an All Blacks scrum on the Witney 35 mark, with regular cornerstone Rick Green in the front row he was not joined by the ever-present Master Tom Bates who was not present but doing his duties with the Gosford 1st XV. In his place the experienced Marc Diamond was stepping up to fill the considerable hole in Bates absence and between them the freshly bearded Carl Brooks. With the ref calling the engage, it was Gosford who won first honours driving the away side back an easy 5 metres before Robbins collected the ball and fed Rob Eynon at flyhalf.
Eynon would ship the ball to centre Pete Copp who with his partner in crime Marc Grant made considerable progress up field, with the ball now tight to the touchline the forwards were running the show, through Kieran Sadler they made it up to the Witney 5 metre line, but were brought short with the ball bouncing out the ruck and giving Witney a line out on their own 5 metre mark. Winning their lineout instead of opting for a safe kick clearance the ball was passed to the physical Witney centre who battered his way up field 10 metres before being brought down by Grant. At this opportunity Witney would make the decision to clear their lines, straight into the path of James Groves at fullback.
Gosford’s youngest player would quickly make up the ground that Witney had recovered by and would be tackled again about 5 metres out from the post. Ball knocked on in the breakdown it was awarded as a Witney scrum. The Gosford pack once again thundered through the blue pack driving the scrum back five metres before the ball was hastily scrambled back. With Witney having hands on the ball they would again try and break from their own 22, through their centre pairing. However, once again Grant left his opposite man no room as he was thrown into the mud. With Sam Durley winning the turnover at this breakdown a quick pass was popped to K.Sadler who would bash his way forward with the help from brother Connor Sadler, stopped short Robbins kept the quick play going by popping to the funny man himself Tim Davies, with help from Dan Talbot, Davies would bash, twist and barge his way over for his first try of the season and double his total Gosford try count over the past seasons! With 10 minutes plates the score was now 5 – 0 and Witney were already showing heavy signs of wear, the had now lost another man, bringing them down to 13 and their pack were struggling massively in the scrums.
With the blues kicking the restart straight to Sam Durley, Durley spotted the missing figures of a winger and fullback and kicked the ball directly into the open space and with 50 yards to gain, the athletic flanker was first to the ball (close 2nd was Robbins) flyhacking the ball on the floor Durley placed his kick right under the posts to double the All Blacks lead and K.Sadler would add the extras 12 – 0.
At the next restart Witney were a bit wiser to the situation and placed a back in the large hole to prevent the All Blacks kicking, however with the restart planted straight to Connor Sadler, the tall second row had room to gallop and gained 25 yards before being brought down. With Robbins switching the ball out to the backs Eynon would play an inside pop to K.Sadler who would bundle his way forward again with the help of Green to add extra pushing power. Witney were happy to play the mauling game (probably as it meant they didn’t have to lie in the mud) but also as their forward pack were solid route 1 units. They’re over commitment would be punished though as Robbins released the backline once more, it was Groves who would make a break from full back, getting periously close to the try line he was stopped short 10 metres from the try line. With another quick ball played to the forwards it was Connor Sadler who would burst his way over to score Gosford’s 3rd try which was converted by Talbot.
Witney at this point lost another player, this time a prop, to keep the game going Mark Diamond switched the black shirt for blue and Jordan would make his debut in at hooker with Brooks moving to the now vacant loose head position. The impact this had was phenomenal, in the case of moving one player Diamond had managed to even up the scrums which had been all Gosford, with Green and Diamond now in an equal deadlock for pushing power, it gave the Witney backline a chance to shine. Through their wiry centre, they tried to attack Copp and Grant but would gain no ground.
The first half would end with a second try for Robbins, who found himself in the right place at the right time and made good use of the open space. 24 – 0 – half time.
With the elements making the game even colder and wetter, the game was quick to get off again, and with Witney restarting they would kick to Durley, who’d gain good initial ground before being stopped on the half way mark. With Robbins releasing the ball to Eynon, Eynon spotted the gap, all he needed to do was offload to Tim Davies and the athletic forward would surely be uncatchable to score a certain try. Step 1 pass the ball, check, step 2 catch the ball, check, step 3 gas it to score a try, fail. In what can only be classed as the most comical thing ever seen in a rugby match Davies somehow managed to tap tackle himself (you really had to be there) with the Gosford players laughing, the Witney players laughing, the ref laughing all players were slow to react but Witney would get a scrum for a knock on.
This scrum would act as a good base for Witney though and through a number of smash and drives they’d find themselves 5 metres short from the All Black try line, with a penalty awarded, Durley was sent to the bin for not retreating 10. With Witney determined to smash their way over the line they’d go through the forwards again but the Gosford defence was good, it was only when the ball was passed to Diamond who would run over the top of Copp to slam down a try for Witney (that’s minus 5 for you on the stats page mate) would they see their rewards for sticking at it.
Gosford (or Robbins) quickly reacted and got a try to cancel out the Witney points just scored, this whould then doubled as a penalty in the 22 was taken quickly by Talbot who passed to Sadler who’d burst his way over. Brooks would add to these 5 minutes later by gracefully diving on the loose ball that had been kicked through to score and finally another try for Robbins to complete his hat trick.
This try would see the whistle blown early, Witney down to 10 men with Freddie Cooper and Mark Diamond counting as 2 of those the day was done. The game played in great spirit despite Witney’s lack of man power they kept going all the way through even with a second row pair with a combined age of over 100! They managed to get a try.
Gosford’s man of the match was awarded to the hat trick man himself; his work all-round the park was a big asset and quick turn of pace left the Witney defence for dust a number of times. Dick of the day, well Tim Davies that one is all you mate! And finally big mentions to Cooper and diamond who didn’t have to play for Witney but did and kept the game going for all involved.
Gosford’s next game is away to 3rd in the league Oxford rfc, the Nomads which formed this year have had a number of big wins so the All Blacks will need to bring their best performance if they want to stay top of the BBON4.