Didcot 28 v 12 Tadley
Promising signs from a young Tadley side as Didcot make most of opportunities
Tadley travelled to Didcot looking to end a disappointing run of 3 consecutive loses. The reverse fixture went in the favour of the Tigers with a narrow 12-10 victory back in the Autumn. The conditions under foot were good with a near perfect pitch fitted the bill however a swirling wind and bright sunshine made kicking in open play unpredictable.
The hosts started with tempo and were rewarded with an early try after some lacklustre tackling from Tadley. Didcot had shown there intentions and looked to find space by moving the ball across the backline. An arrow like conversion from the Fly Half added the extras to give the hosts a perfect start 7-0 with barely, 5 minutes played.
Tadley restarted and played themselves into the game, getting used to the conditions, the forwards were harried in the scrum with Didcot winning a few against the head in the early exchanges. Struggling to put anything of note together in open play Tadley had a line out on the Didcot 10 metre line which was swiftly won off the top. The half backs fed centre Adam Stanley who directed himself back towards the traffic, he added a pinch of footwork to unsettle the tackler before offloading to centre partner Jack Davies. He steamed through the gap and finished off superbly evading the covering wingers. Fly Half Scott Raymond slotted the conversion to level the scores with 15 minute played.
With their tails up Tadley kicked deep to pressurise the Didcot full back, with James Port and Dan Corburn chasing Didcot were boxed into their own 22. A knock on presented Tadley with the put in at the scrum yet Didcot’s pack did enough to unsettle their opposite men and turn over possession. Didcot calmly played their way out of trouble and soon had support runners in abundance as they got deep into the Tadley 22. A good covering tackle from winger Tom Jeffrey led to a knock on by the carrier. A momentum swing had see within 20 seconds Tadley go from an attacking scrum on the Didcot 5 metre to a defending scrum on their own 5 metre line.
From the scrum Didcot recycled the ball and scored a converted try a few phases later to make it 14-7 with 20 minutes played. Both sides continued to show attacking intent however the accuracy of the passing was wayward and the remainder of the half was littered with handling errors and scrappy scrums. Smart turnovers from blind side flanker Tom Miller were a good source of attacking ball however the execution in moving the ball was often sloppy.
Didcot were looking the more dangerous with ball in hand and Tadley continued to assist by missing first time tackles. A final surge before half time saw the Didcot open side flanker score after the pressure mounted on Tadley’s line was too much, and the conversion gave the hosts a 21-7 lead at the interval.
Going into the second half Tadley knew they had half a chance of getting back into the match but needed to be more assertive hen taking contact. Brash carries from Number 8 Dan Fowler and tight head Sam Andrews gave Tadley momentum, with the ball being moved quickly along the backline to the space out wide.
The difficulties at the scrum and line out were ironed out and Tadley become more dominate at set piece, debutant Aiden Geraghty and flanker Charlie James were industrious with their carries and the half backs moved Tadley into the right areas of the pitch.
As play unfolded, Raymond feed Hooker Jonny Owen who sent winger Jeffrey away down the left. A few hip swerves and unnerving speed saw the winger cross the whitewash to give the visitor’s a fighting chance with a little over 20 minutes to play 21-12.
Didcot responded and fought their way back into Tadley territory, a fumble from the Didcot hooker went unseen by the referee, as he managed to present the ball back for the supporting forward who then picked and scored from 3 metres out. Didcot’s fly half again converted and re-established their lead to 28-12.
The final quarter of the game saw some feisty exchanges with bodies flying in at the breakdown, the shackles were off and lock Brandon Seal led the charge with is tackling and ball carrying. The Didcot defence was resolute and Tadley couldn’t get the final offload away once in behind the fractured defensive line to reduce the deficit. Some promising play and good individual performances give Tadley encouragement going into the final month of the season. Man of the Match Adam Stanley for setting up the first try and his uncompromising defence.
Tadley 1st XV: Port, Colburn, Davies, Stanley, Jefrrey, Raymond S, Dennison ©, Geraghty, Owen, Andrews, Newman (Bodin), Seal, James, Miller T, Fowler