This was the best performance by Witham for some time and it was Basildon who were relieved to hear the final whistle.
Witham visited Basildon 2nds on a lovely wet rugby day. In the slippery conditions, a few errors were made early on but it was the hosts that managed to take the lead through their larger pack. When the Witham forwards were using their runners, they made good ground and set up a platform for the backs. Just when the opposition thought Captain Michael Harrison
would charge into contact, he passed it wide. Quick hands by josh Taplin
and Marley Valentine gave Michael Vidler
a race to the line which he won to open Witham's account. From the re-start, Witham got back into an attacking position. When a penalty was awarded 20 yards out, Jake Westwood
slotted it to take the lead. The home side were not pleased and over the next 10 minutes managed to score 3 times to build a lead for themselves. Then came the try of the day. Seeing Vidler clear on the wing, Charlie "cricket" Gibson had to check his run before delivering a perfect kick to the winger. With a clean catch, Vidler stepped inside the defender and dived for the line before the cover tackles could reach him. Westwood converted but Basildon scored again before the break
to lead 27-15.
The second half saw Basildon score to extend their lead but as the half went on, Witham were pressing harder. A scrum on the 22 saw Harrison pick up and offload to Daz Chesson who went on one of his jinking runs. Evading several tackles, he crossed the line. A few minutes later, Witham mauled to within a few meters of the line for Harrison to break off and score. With Gibson slotting the tricky conversion, the home supporters were nervously working out the score. As Witham pressed, a Basildon break saw a try that looked like it would seal the result for the home side, but Witham were not done yet. Another rolling maul was controlled well to get Harrison close enough to burst over the line. Another Gibson conversion brought the difference to just 4 points. With the last play of the game, Witham spun the ball wide, using Jon Beales from full back as the extra man, but the home defence did just enough to halt the attack. Man of the match was Witham debutant Charlie Gibson
, whose control from the fly half position gave the attack numerous options.
1st XV home v Millwall 2nds
2nd XV home v Writtle 2nds