Bournville 10--Worcester Wanderers 19
An outstanding win for the outstanding outgoing Director of Rugby Stuart James
The Wanderers completed their season with a fine win away to promotion chasing Bourneville on Saturday by 19 points to 10, in a match that had it all, tries, penalties, red & yellow cards!
This was no dead rubber, even though Bourneville had already secured the playoff position, they needed to win with a bonus point to keep the pressure on Bridgnorth and retain an outside chance of automatic promotion.
The conditions were excellent and it was Bourneville who began the game with all systems firing, dominating territory and possession and enjoying the rub of the green as they sought to breakdown the Wanderers defence.
The Wanderers, however, were hugely committed and kept Bourneville at bay, frustration started to creep into the Bourneville play as despite the lion's share of possession they were unable to make much headway.
The Wanderers were giving away penalties and, Paul Burton had to take one for the team being sent to the bin for being offside in midfield.
Bourneville sensed their opportunity but, a turnover relieved the pressure as Tom Biggs found an excellent touch near the half way line.
The Wanderers, having soaked up a lot of pressure, worked their way into the Bourneville half and enjoyed a good spell of their own, with Olly Meadows, Jim Aston and Alex Crawshaw prominent.
Tom Dodge, Scott Pocock and Pat McLeish were terrier like at the breakdown and tackled everything above grass blade height.
Bourneville's frustration was increasingly evident as they desperately tried to halt the Wanderers pouring forward, a penalty from Biggs gave the Wanderers the lead.
Back came Bourneville, finally taking advantage of the extra man, they forced a penalty of their own but, Sam Jones pushed it narrowly wide.
The pressure was back on the Wanderers and it paid dividends when the Bourneville forwards secured a lineout and drove over for the opening try, the conversion missing on the left.
Unperturbed, the Wanderers attacked from the kick off, Biggs narrowly missed a penalty attempt but, the Wanderers continued to apply pressure to the Bourneville defence and kept them pinned in their 22, Biggs stepped up for another penalty attempt which slipped past, taking a strip of paint of the post on its way!
The penalty count was mounting and Biggs knocked over his second to give the Wanderers a deserved lead.
Bourneville were rattled as the Wanderers searched for a try.
Finally, Biggs spotted the dangerous Aston wide on the left, a huge miss pass found him and, despite having plenty to do, Aston found a path to the try line, 11 points to 5 the Wanderers.
The game became a little tetchy, with both sides guilty of letting their frustration get the better of them, a scrum on half way broke up and the Bourneville hooker was shown red for a punch, the referee having no alternative.
The second half began with both sides searching for points but, neither giving anything away.
It was enthralling stuff as both sides were finding it difficult to break each other down, the breakdown was very competitive as defences dominated and occasionally frustration would pop to the surface.
The Wanderers broke on the right and carried into the Bourneville half following great work from Sam Harper and Burton, they seemed to have numbers but, Bourneville recovered and looked to have retained the ball; it skewed out of the ruck and the first to react was Burton, who had been involved in the original surge forward, the way to the line looked clear, Burton, however, looked like he was running in treacle as the pursuing Bourneville defenders made up the ground, Matt Marskell was in hot pursuit, the alert Burton drew the Bourneville cover before offloading to Marskell who cantered in unopposed.
The introduction of James Parker and Mike Dodge gave the Wanderers fresh impetus, as they carried and harried with unbridled enthusiasm.
Once again, Bourneville came back strongly, retaining possession in the Wanderers 22, two yellow cards, Dave Whiting and James Priddey, for the Wanderers and a try for Bourneville to narrow the gap to 6 points, gave the Wanderers a mountain climb.
Bourneville battered the Wanderers defence but, it stood up to everything they threw at them, Andy Reid, Alex Peel and Will Biggs matching the Bourneville threat courageously!
Lee Watson joined the game and had an immediate impact, showing great strength to drive away from the Wanderers line before the ball found Biggs who launched it into touch.
The siege was lifted and the Wanderers back to 15 players for the final few minutes; penalty 35 metres out in front of the Bourneville posts, the nerveless Biggs stepped up to convert to earn the Wanderers a hard fought but, well deserved victory.
Retiring Director of Rugby, Stuart James, said: 'Nail biting stuff but, a performance to be proud off, I am very pleased for the 18 players whose efforts were rewarded today!'