Firsts End Season With Victory Over Aylesbury
A much changed Wallingford side put in a solid performance to end the season with a victory over fourth placed Aylesbury.
On a warm Saturday afternoon Wallingford welcomed Aylesbury to the Hithercroft for the final league game of the season.
In selection, Wallingford were without regulars Tom Swainston and Sam Botting, but were able to welcome back stalwart Pete Holton to the side, as well as bringing in George Marffy and Matt Fearn from the 2s.
Wallingford started well for once, and soon found themselves with a five meter scrum, which, with the weighty second row of Ed Searle and Carl Tappin, marched their opponents over their own line, allowing Ian Jeffreys to dot down for his 14th try of the season, a career best following another fine season. With Dawes' conversion Wallingford took an early 7 point lead.
Aylesbury came back into the game, with their line-out operating well and providing lots of good ball for their young back line. They created several early chances as they spread the ball wide to their pacey back three, but a combination of poor hands and excellent scramble defence, from Dan Sadler in particular, denied them a try.
They did eventually earn a penalty which their winger struck well to convert and reduce arrears to 4 points.
Aylesbury continued to apply pressure, and missed two ambitious penalty kicks, before Wallingford scored their second try. With the ball moved left just outside the visitors' twenty two, old square boots Pete Holton put in a delicate chip over the top and with the bounce causing havoc in the Aylesbury defence, Matt Fearn seized on the loose ball to score his first try for the 1st XV.
Half time came with Wallingford leading 14-3 (I think).
Aylesbury started the second half strongly, and applied concerted pressure on the hosts, which culminated in a team yellow for Dave Baxter.
During this period they did finally cross the whitewash, but the kick from the left was sliced well wide.
Having soaked up lots of pressure, Wallingford cleared their lines following a monumental break from Jeffreys from his own twenty two. From this, Wallingford grew in confidence and earned two penalties, both of which Phil Dawes converted to extend their lead. The second of which surprised Phil himself as he boomed it over from just inside the Aylesbury half.
Aylesbury came again, and just as they looked to have opened up Wallingford, a Pete Holton hand intervened to kill the move, and the veteran was rightly sin-binned for the offence.
An Aylesbury penalty took the visitors to double figures, before a well struck Dawes penalty cancelled it out. Dawes then had the chance to kill the game off with probably the easiest penalty of the lot, but his miss meant that Aylesbury still had a sniff.
A late Aylesbury score brought them within 5 points, but Wallingford kept their composure and closed the game out for a satisfying win.
Considering the changes to the side, this was a decent performance from Wallingford. Although the backs struggled to click, their defence was excellent, with Holton, Marffy, Suttner and Sadler doing a superb job in containing a pacey Aylesbury backline, whilst the forwards dominance in the scrum was lovely to see.
There were plenty of contenders for MoM, but it went to Jack Greenway, who put in a typically physical and aggressive display, and dominated his opposite number in the scrum.