Upton snatch late victory
Veteran Heeley kicks last minute conversion to steal 5 points
Upton grabbed a bonus point victory from the jaws of death with their first ever victory at Old Wheatleyans. This game was described by Upton’s Director of Rugby as a ‘10 pointer’ due to the closeness of both teams to each other towards the end of the table.
Upton travelled with a strong squad but were slightly hampered by the late arrival of skipper Max Macfarlane. However will Cullwick stepped up from the bench which also saw a welcome return for Dan Staines after a year long absence. Rob Heeley took over the captaincy and asked for 100% concentration from the team as on previous occasions Upton have been blown away by the home side.
However Upton were on top for the first quarter and took the lead from a rolling maul. Cullwick took the lineout 5 metres out and the drive came on which resulted in Heeley touching down. The skipper also took the conversion to make it 7-0.
Coach Ben Hughes had spoken to the players before the game about the fact that the home side would score but Upton would also keep scoring. He wanted the team to not get down heartened if things went against them. And so the home side did score from an identical rolling maul but failed with the conversion so trailed 5-7. However they soon took the lead when their pacy right winger scooted round the blind side defence of Upton to score. This was converted to make it 12-7.
Old Wheats were now on top and it seemed like Upton were losing the ref and at one point coach Hughes had to be calmed down due to his frustration with some of the decisions. The home side went further ahead with a penalty and then 2 minutes from half time as Upton looked for their second score 10 metres out the Old Wheats winger intercepted and sprinted the length of the pitch to score and converted try 22-7. Upton though were thrown a life line. Old Wheats messed up the restart and after their winger kicked the ball behind the dead ball line Upton had a scrum 5 metres out. The visitors led by the superb propping of Adam Jones and Matt Glading drove Old Wheats over the line and Macfarlane, who had just arrived, touched down. Heeley converted to make the half time score 22-14.
Upton were now going up the slight hill and this task was made even harder when Old Wheats extended their lead further with an early try and penalty to stretch the game to 30-14.
But it seemed fitness then seemed to tell as Upton spent the rest of the game in the Old Wheats half. The forwards battered away at the home side defence and the backs led by Will Miekle looked dangerous every time they got the ball. For once patience was the winner when first Macfarlane stormed through and as he was halted 2 metres out he popped to the supporting Miekle who just managed to touch down over the line. Heeley converted again to make it 30-21 and he reduced the score to bonus point territory with a penalty to make it 30-24.
As the game ticked towards its conclusion Upton had line out after lineout on the Old Wheats line as the home side continually infringed and Heeley kept sticking the ball in the corner. Despite the fact the home side seemed to keep pulling down Upton’s dominant maul the ref never looked like awarding a penalty try. So with the final play of the game skipper Heeley decided to go for a scrum rather than another lineout. Despite the frustration of coach Hughes who thought it was the wrong decision the visitors pack dug deep and drove Old Wheats back over their line again for Macfarlane to touch down . Despite the away side’s jubilation they perhaps hadn’t realised they still trailed by one pointbut with the last kick of the game Heeley stepped up for his 5th successful kick of the day to snatch a dramatic last play victory