Resolute Defence Secures the Spoils
Littlemore grind out victory over tenacious Wheatley
Wheatley 7 - 10 Littlemore
A Scott Fernquest penalty proved to be the only difference between the leagues two form teams in a tense encounter at Holton Playing Fields. If the previous meeting of the two in October, a 5-3 win for Littlemore, was two teams trying desperately not to lose, this game at least started with both teams attempting to play their usual game and trying to win.
It was Wheatley that registered the first score, touching down under the posts after pouncing on a hopeful kick ahead after Littlemore were slow to react to a loose ball following a turnover on their 10 metre line. Ten minutes gone and an already tough task had just been made harder for the men in blue. 7-0
The visitors rallied, however, and began to put together some consistent phases of play to pile the pressure on their dogged opponents. Determined as they were to prevent Littlemore from progressing, Wheatley found themselves penalised for offside at a breakdown 10 metres outside their 22. On-field captain Jonny Williams called on the recently returned Scott Fernquest to do the honours from the tee. The Welshman duly obliged with a well struck kick that sailed between the uprights. 26 minutes in and Littlemore finally had something to show for their endeavour. 7-3
The Littlemore forwards perhaps just edged the set piece battle and it was from a dominant scrum that Stewart Beale was able to capitalise on a moment of indecision and intercept a pass intended for the Wheatley midfield and race in untouched from 40 metres. Diving over under the posts meant the conversion was a formality for Fernquest. 7-10 after 31 minutes.
The pressure of being behind began to tell for Wheatley as they were reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the second half for repeatedly, in the eyes of the referee, drifting off-side in the midfield. Littlemore were unable to capitalise on the advantage and were fortunate to see a penalty attempt from Wheatley's very reliable kicker drift agonisingly (for Wheatley) wide. The half drew to a close with Littlemore 3 points in the lead.
The second half saw two possible tries disallowed for Littlemore, one for double movement and the second for not being grounded and Wheatley being denied on at least two occasions for similar reasons. The majority of the play was firmly in Littlemore territory but hugely committed defence coupled with the kind of luck that befalls unbeaten teams meant that neither team were able to add to their scores.
So, with 12 games played, 12 games won and only 3 points dropped Littlemore look forward to the visit of a well drilled Aldermaston team on 11th February.