Redingensians V Wallingford.
On yet another glorious autumn morning (though earlier than recent weeks) Redingensians took the field against Wallingford who turned up a man short.
With all our referees curently "hors de combat" a Wallingford coach was press-ganged to officiate and the kick off whistle blew at 10.40.
By 10.41 Redingensians were a try down and they stayed behind for the rest of the match.
Wallingford were up for the game and tore into Redingensians from the off.Though Redingensians received, they took the ball into contact and spilled the ball forward in the tackle. Wallingford's forwards drove the ball back into the pack, recycled twice and then moved the ball left through the backs to score in the left hand corner. The conversion was missed and Redingensins were 5 0 down.
Within 2 minutes another Redingensians knock on conceded a midfield scrum. Clean wallingford ball gave them the platform to execute a straightforward centre scissors move which confounded the Redingensians defence and the opposition 13 was through and bearing down on the line. Tom Russell came off his wing to make a covering tackle just short of the linebut the Wallingford forwards arrived in numbers, recycled the ball and scored again on the left. Another missed conversion meant the score moved to 10-0 with only 4 minutes elapsed.
Redingensians thought they had staunched the flow but after 10 minutes a kick from a defensive maul failed to find touch and the Wallingford left wing returned the ball into the middle of the park. From there the Wallingford pack took over and drove at a porous Redingensins defence taking the ball up to the try line before setting a good maul and feeding the ball left again allowing the winger to complete the move he started with a try. 15 - 0.
For the next 10 minutes Redingensians began to claw their way back into the game as the Wallingford intensity began to wane. James Duncan led the mini revival with two crunching tackles, A good scrum and clean lineout ball allowed Ensians to launch some attacks of their own. Dan Trussler and Tom Russell got the chance to run at the Wallingford defence and some desperate tackling snuffed out the chances.
Another good lineout take, with Greg Chalk hitting the jumper (Will) at number 2 to set up a great drive up the middle but a dropped pass and knock on allowed Wallingford to regroup and launch their own attack deep into Redingensians territory. Another Wallingford scrum led to desperate defending 10 meters from the blues line. The referee spotted a blues hand in the ruck and awarded a penalty. The wallingford scrum half reacted quickest to tap and go and fed a teammate to dot down on the right. The conversion was slotted over and the score moved to 22 - 0.
At 22 - 0 Redingensians were looking at their biggest defeat of the season. They had been totally unprepared for the Wallingford intensity and discipline. As intense as Wallingford were the blues were misfiring in all key areas, however from this point on the tide began to turn a little in Redingensians favour. From a good scrum in midfield the ball was worked blind and Dan T roared up the left touchline but was forced out about 8 metres short.
Another good lineout throw and take on the right wing set up clean ball for the backs. Ruairi fed Aidan and the ball went down the line where Dan T appeared in the line between outside centre and wing to break the defensive line and touch down on the left. 22- 5.
The half time break allowed Redingensians to regroup. The back row of Kane, Joe Norman, and Toby Pearce had tackled hard for 35 minutes. Louis switched back to number 6 from guesting in Wallingford's back row. Both Wingers had been replaced duing the first half as injuries to Tom Russell and Jake meant Ollie Dunn, Ollie Jones and Matt Stent had to be called into action.
From the restart Ensians applied pressure on Wallingford forcing a scrum deep in their own territory. Though the Scrum was won by Wallingford, Toby was quickly off the back of the scrum to charge down the attempted clearance and start the half with a try which James then converted to reduce the defecit to 10 points 22 -12.
More pressure from Redingensians kept Wallingford pinned in their own half for the next 10 minutes, but handling errors , knock ons and poor option choices meant they could not sustain any moves.
The game became very attritional with strong tackling from both sides and lots of disruptive play but neither side got any worthwhile continuous possession.
Joe Norman made a great cover tackle when the Wallingford winger broke through from a move at the base of the scrum. The 2 Ollies, (Jones and Dunn) made some good runs from broken play,
Some good forward drives by Louis, Toby, Will, and Jack Bishop all petered out or were broken up by stout Wallingford defence or poor support play
Even the scrum was struggling and lost a couple of strikes against the head.
The number of injury stops was mounting as Wallingford put their all into resisting the Ensians effort. But the stop start did nothing for either sides ability to build momentum.
With game beginning to draw to a scrappy end Wallingford managed to mount a series of drives which moved the ball to within 10 meters of the Ensian's line. Their well drilled mauling allowed them to protect the ball from the defence then work the ball right and score past an outnumbered defence. The conversion moved the score to 29 - 12
From the kick off wallingford gathered the ball and tried to move it down the back line, this time the Ensians rush defense paid off and Sam Hawkes picked off an interception and galloped for the line.
Final score 29 - 17 to Wallingford.
A timely wake up call for the blues who have enjoyed some good wins lately. This was a different level of opposition from recent weeks. Wallingford were well drilled and intense. Redingensians were slow to start and imprecise in execution. Multiple and continuous errors meant that the cohesion of recent weeks was missing.
Plenty to work on this Thursday. Well done Wallingford who also demonstrated a different level of committment in their drink off. Pints no less.