VIGO 46 HELLINGLY 10
VIGO AND THE CURATE’S EGG
Vigo duly despatched Hellingly, who are propping up the League without a win, but at times made heavy weather of what should have been a straightforward process. At times they looked sublime, at others almost rusty but as coach John Whitehead said ‘’It’s a measure of how far this club has come, that we’ve just scored 8 tries, and are still not satisfied’’.
Indeed, after having a week off, Vigo seemed to be taking their time to work their way into the match, initially just a fraction off with their passing and handling but gradually beginning to settle down. Hellingly were giving away a few too many penalties in the early stages which helped Vigo to get into some decent positions, but Hellingly posted intent when their tall left winger, Tom Stone, suddenly broke through causing some consternation in Vigo’s defence. Danger averted, Vigo hit back with a strong run by Adam Fitzgerald who crashed through the middle before being halted close to the line. Vigo started to get the scent and began to press urgently. Again, a penalty helped. Tony Whitehead found the corner, Nick McPherson – making a welcome return after a lengthy injury break - won the line out and Vigo worked the ball away. McPherson again popped up and found Luke Henderson in support who promptly scored. Whitehead converted superbly from wide out.
Enthused and encouraged, Vigo swept forward, winning another penalty. Same build up as before, this time the forwards driving it up the middle. Hellingly stopped the initial surge but Vigo recycled quickly and with Dan Norton acting as fly half, he sent out a lovely pass to James Clemmence who sauntered over. The visitors lost a player to a yellow card after a high tackle, nothing malicious just the cause celebre at the moment, but that seemed to inspire them. That, or Vigo relaxed, but Hellingly bravely took the fight to Vigo. Vigo thumped the ball away vaguely in the direction of Hellingly territory. Ian Padget fielded the ball and shot off like a startled rabbit through an equally startled Vigo defence. A missed couple of tackles later and Padget found right winger Jack Cowell, who roared over for a deserved try. If that was a bit of a shocker for the Villagers, worse nearly followed when they promptly coughed up a ball, which was seized by the Hellingly 99 – unconventional numbering on the visitors’ shirts – the splendidly named Sam Lewington-Booth, who proved to be no flake – 99, get it? – he tore through a suddenly disorganised Vigo defence. Eventually, about fifty metres later he was stopped, Hellingly lost the ball and Vigo were able to gain some relief. But the warnings were there, Vigo could not afford to relax.
Just as Hellingly were restored to a full complement, they lost another player to the NBC for interfering at a ruck, could have been one of a number of offences actually, the excellent referee in total control all round the park, but Vigo, this time took advantage of their numerical superiority, driving a scrum forward, Dom Mickleburgh scrambling over for a try his sterling efforts fully deserved. Since coming into the side after injuries had decimated the team a few weeks ago, the young flanker has been a success and fully deserving of his extended stay in the side. Vigo began to apply themselves with a little more concentration now. The visitors fought hard to keep the Villagers at bay, but McPherson again appeared to good effect in a decent passing movement, releasing Elliot Stickings who ripped over.
Vigo had secured a crucial bonus point and contentedly made their way to the changing rooms for their half time Jaffa – no euphemism there – the changing rooms resemble a tuck shop as the players replenish their energies with all sorts of edible goodies under this regime. Out for the second half and determined to sweep on to victory. Well, that was the intention and the score line probably suggests that, but Hellingly, too, were determined to thwart their opponents and it was indeed, the visitors who struck first in the second period. The follicly challenged stand-off, Matt Sands, feinted blind then suddenly cut back open and shot through a gap. Vigo seemed mesmerised and hesitated. Sands found Padget who showed a rare turn of pace to run three quarters the length of the pitch for an outstanding try. Vigo’s faithful crowd were getting a tad restless, coach Whitehead roamed the technical area muttering darkly. Hellingly were showing glimpses of the form that swept all before them in their promotion year. Unfortunately for them, they have lost over half their team to injury and things are looking a bit ominous for the team. Vigo had the same problems in their last foray into this league 6 years ago but from that wreck of a season they have regrouped and pushed on, so there is optimism for this likeable East Sussex side.
Vigo pulled themselves together, with Will James beginning to gambol around the park, popping up all over the place. Stickings and Whitehead set up a couple of decent attacks, and perhaps a touch of white line fever began to set in, but Vigo persisted. A superb pass by the hugely influential Tony Whitehead found Adam Fitzgerald in space. Hellingly streamed back to defend but Vigo were there in numbers to recycle the ball for Ben Moorhouse to blast over. Again, Hellingly fought back, certainly posing problems for Vigo in the scrum, a particular strength for Vigo recently, but Vigo were in a position of power. The visitors big second row, Lewis Ather, strove mightily against what appeared the inevitable, but Vigo were increasingly taking charge. Again, Will James scampered away, covering nearly fifty metres before releasing Dom Carslaw who was stopped agonisingly short of the line. Although Hellingly managed to secure the ball, a magnificent tackle by McPherson shook the ball loose. Tony Whitehead chipped an equally magnificent ‘kick-pass’ across the field to Adam Fitzgerald, who had time to reset this SatNav for the line, strolling over for the try. Whitehead added the extras.
Now known as Routemaster, the burly left winger has been waiting all season for a try, and suddenly three come along together, all in the space of ten minutes or so. Again, prop James figured prominently, again Whitehead saw the space, fired out a long pass to James who drew the last man before expertly passing to Fitzgerald who strolled over. Five minutes later, Whitehead again kicked inch perfect for Fitzgerald, who only had to catch the ball and fall over the line, which he did with great aplomb, a fully deserved hat trick for the winger who never stops trying. Although the tries looked easy, great credit goes to the team who worked hard to stretch their opposition, Whitehead to see the space and Fitzgerald to keep his calm to finish off. Hellingly were beaten but never stopped working, especially debutants Giles Hook and Jake Howell, their work ethic shining strongly through the gathering gloom of a typical autumn afternoon here on the High Veldt.
Scorers: Tries: Vigo: Henderson (7’), Clemmence (12’), Mickleburgh (27’)Stickings (33’), Moorhouse (53’), Fitzgerald (63’,70’, 75’). Cons : Whitehead (3). Hellingly: Tries: Cowell (20’), Padget (47’)
MoM: Luke Henderson.
Vigo team: J.Clemmence; A.Fitzgerald, D.Winstone, O.Stringer, E.Stickings; T.Whitehead, D.Carslaw; W.James (rep: P.Sewell), H.Wilson, D.Norton; J.french, B.Moorhouse; L.Henderson, D.Mickleburgh (rep: R.Hayes); N.McPherson.
Rep (not used). B.Buckland.
Referee: Jordan Davies (SEF)
Ben Woods (Hellingly coach): We were missing a lot of players but I am pleased with our efforts, especially in the scrum, our tight five were outstanding. Vigo’s off-loading game was excellent especially in the first twenty minutes, but we hung in.Vigo fully deserved their win and look forward to the return.
John Whitehead (Vigo head coach) Difficult game, we played well in patches, were messy in patches, but it’s a sign of where we have come from that we can find fault in a 46 – 10 win.