Firsts Win Again Against Thatcham
Wallingford did the double against a decent Thatcham side as they edged a hard fought encounter in front of a VP crowd.
Wallingford welcomed Thatcham to the Croft on a mild March day. In selection, Jack Greenway returned to the front row after his Swedish adventure, whilst in the backs, Dan Sadler returned to the side and there was a rare sighting of Harry Robins on the wing, finally released by Iceland to play.
Thatcham, who have had a good season to date, started the game well, as they camped in the Wallingford twenty-two for the opening quarter, but Wallingford's relentless defence held out.
Then in almost their first visit to the Thatcham half, the visitors infringed at the breakdown and Phil Dawes kicked the first points of the match.
Wallingford then had their own purple patch, as they squeezed two more kickable penalties out of Thatcham, both of which Dawes converted to give Wallingford a 9-0 lead.
Thatcham came back, and after several catch and drives were resisted, they earned a somewhat questionable penalty try from a five meter scrum.
With that, the half ended 9-7 to the hosts.
The second half saw the game really come to life, as both sides looked to move the ball and open the game up. Wallingford soon extended their lead, after a good offload off the deck put Ian Jeffreys in space and he finished well in the corner under pressure. The conversion was missed.
Thatcham then came back, stretching Wallingford's defence before putting their impressive full back in space on the right for an unconverted try, to reduce the deficit to just two points.
There was a slightly strange moment in one of the scrums, when Jack Greenway, possibly having consumed a few alcoholic beverages the night before, brought back up his breakfast sausages at the point of engagement. Pure class that man.
As the game entered the final quarter, Wallingford scored the try of the game. Off set piece ball on half way, the ball was moved right, linking several sets of hands from both forwards and backs, timing their passes to perfection, before Sam Botting gave the scoring pass to Dan Sadler who finished brilliantly in the corner. Phil Dawes continued to impressive display with a crucial touchline conversion.
Despite losing their charming fly-half to the bin for his now obligatory back chat to the ref, Thatcham stayed in the game and scored from the penultimate act of the game, as a good cut out pass set up a try out wide. But when Wallingford secured the restart, the game was over.
This was another good win against a decent Thatcham outfit. Thatcham have probably the best set-piece in the league, but credit to the Wallingford pack, they contained them at the scrum and found parity in the line-out. And yet again, Wallingford's defence and fitness came good, as they kept going right up to the final whistle.
There were some good displays from Jeffreys, Dawes and Tappin, but man of the match went to stalwart Pete Holton, who put in a big defensive display in the midfield.