Reporter Nick Brown enjoys his 5 star hotel, some brass rubbing and real ale, but misses the players. Next week he should enjoy their company after the Chairman's lunch.
SALISBURY 15 – 32 WITNEY
A grey drizzly, but mild, Saturday afternoon at Salisbury’s Castle Road ground, (where yours truly played, for U S Portsmouth, in 1960). A slight, kick assisting, west wind blowing up the pitch. After the week’s rain there was going to be another muddy battle, which favoured Witney, who had won in the mud, last week and Salisbury had not!
Salisbury kicked off and Witney immediately took the game into Salisbury’s 22, rucking and spinning the ball left and right, but the defence held and Witney pushed early at a scrum allowing a long clearing Penalty kick. Witney again took the ball into Salisbury’s half and mainly remained there until a missed Penalty kick at goal in the 13th minute.
(15 mins) A Salisbury Penalty touch kick gave them a lineout in Witney’s 22, from which a driving maul took them over the Try Line but the ball was held up. After the 5m scrum Salisbury were awarded two more penalties at which they tried to scrummage but Witney’s scrum was far too powerful and Witney were awarded a Penalty and cleared the danger.
(19 mins)After a scrum on ½ way, Witney Fly Half, Jack Birks kicked a diagonal for his Left Wing Tom Gaffney who ran on to the ball at top speed running 35m well inside the 22. A quick pass inside to supporting centre Matt Clarke who flicked the ball left to Full Back Charlie Marshall who scored a very spectacular Try on his debut game. 0 - 5
(22 mins)Salisbury, a good attack into the 22 but Witney’s defence was good, but an off side saw, Salisbury Fly Half James Bagguley convert the Penalty. 3 – 5
(30 mins)For the past 8 minutes Witney had had most of the possession and Salisbury were hanging on. Witney were moving the ball from right to left rucking and then left to right. The ball came to centre Clarke, on the 22, who pushed tacklers away, stepped off either foot and touched down and then kicked the Goal. 3 – 12
(40 mins)Witney chose a Penalty scrum 15m out and drove Salisbury over their Goal Line, No8 Deaglan Bayliss touching down. Clarke converting. 3 – 19
Salisbury did not seem to have an answer to Witney’s dominance. Witney were so much more powerful in the tight and they were making far less handling errors in the greasy conditions.
Witney were gifted 6 more points in the opening minutes of the 2nd Half, when Prop Gary Williamson was Yellow Carded. Minutes later Captain and No8, Josh Green, got his marching orders. Clarke converted both Penalties. 3 – 25
Surprisingly, Witney were not able to score against the depleted opposition!
(18 mins)Losing the two men for a period had inspired the Salisbury players to put more vigour into their game and it wasn’t lost when they returned. They were running hard at Witney and a big forward would lie off ruck, receive the ball and come in at an angle, at pace bursting over the Gain Line. Salisbury mauled from a Penalty Lineout and drove over, 2nd Row Chris Beaumont touching down.
8 – 25
Witney subs; Joe Rowles to No 8 and Ed Clothier to Flank replacing Alisdair Anderson.
(23 mins)Salisbury now the dominant team.
(29 mins)Salisbury rucking in Witney’s 22 and Flanker Carl Campbell Yellow carded. Salisbury Penalty Lineout on 5m, mauled and second Try to Beaumont, Bagguley converting. 15 – 25
(34 mins)A Salisbury player broke through Witney, hacked ahead and FB Marshall fell on ball. Rowles, in support, picked up ball and he broke away, making 30m. Two Witney Penalties and a Penalty Lineout on 5m. They then had two Penalty Scrums but failed to push over the Line.
(1 min extra)Witney another Penalty Scrum on the 5m. This time Rowles picked up drove for the line, was tackled but twisted over and touched down. Clarke converting. 15 – 32
Another very good win. The tight eight again giving the opposition a torrid time in the scrums. Congratulations to Right Wing Tom Puddle on his debut game for Witney 1sts. He was very noticeable on the field, playing a very intelligent game. Also congratulations to Tom Gaffney for his large part in a very spectacular Try.
Finally, there’s me able to stay behind, for a change and have a pint and a chat with the Players and they bugger off before 5 o clock!!!!
Salisbury's Man of the Match; Alan Ritchens / Jamie Burke.
Witney's Man of the Match; Matt Clarke.
Tit of the Day; Ritchie Craig, who gave blood for the cause, but didn't come on!!