This evening saw Essex RFU Senior Cup Final between neighbouring clubs, Southend and Westcliff. It provided an entertaining game for the three hundred plus crowd.
Westcliff started off the stronger at Warners Park competing vigorously for every ball and soon had Southend on the back foot. So determined were they that Southend conceded two penalties in the first six minutes. Westcliff fly half, Ben McKeith, missed the first one but was successful with the second 0 - 3.
Southend responded by getting and keeping possession moving the play into the Westcliff half. Refusing to take a penalty kicks they opted for a scrums and rolled forward. Just when it looked as though they might put a score of their own on the board a misplaced long pass was intercepted by Westcliff’s winger Paul Radley who ran seventy meters unopposed to touch down under the posts. McKeith converted and they were 10 points in front.
The touch paper was lit as far as Southend were concerned and they renewed their efforts, some quick handling by the backs eventually saw Southend stand off Perry Sanson
dart over the line for their first points of the night. He converted his try and Southend were back in the game at 7 - 10.
Westcliff had other ideas. They rucked and mauled their way into Southends half forcing yet another penalty. A difficult kick was made easier by continued back chat, the referee marched forward first ten meters then another ten. McKeith converted what was by then an easy kick 7 - 13.
Southend renewed their efforts and soon had Westcliff on the back foot again. Continued spoiling tactics by one of their props was finally punished with a yellow card. Southend centre Chris Vaughan took advantage when he gathered the ball and ran in a very good try. Converted by Sanson it took Southend in to the lead for the first time 14 - 13.
When centre Sonny Gay
scored another try shortly after it looked as though they were about to run away with it at 19 - 13 but Westcliff would not lie down. Another penalty, moved forward again for back chat, saw them elect for a scrum. Just five meters out back row Tom Pacey picked up, peeled round the back of the scrum and went over. McKeith converted and they went into half time one point in front. 19 - 20.
The second half began with yet another Westcliff penalty taking them further in front at 19 - 23.
The Westcliff supporters were beginning to think this was going to be their day but it was not to be. Southend consolidated, changed some things around and began to dominate. Four unanswered try’s in the next thirty minutes proved too much to handle. First Chris Vaughan scored his second of the night, then Todd Bailey
, then Danny Cleare
and finally skipper Chris Green
. With only one converted the night finished with a reasonably comfortable Southend win, 41 - 23.
Westcliff players and supporters went home pleased with their nights performance whilst Southend went home with the Cup.
Penalties against Southend 19 – Westcliff 8