Five Ways opened their season with a tough game against the recently successful Ross On Wye side. In this cup fixture it is a credit to Five ways continued development and recruitment that we were able to field a strong side with over twelve regular players unavailable. The side was much changed from the end of last season with some very exciting players to watch including Kyle Mitchell at prop, Ben Ernstzen at fly half and new signings Martin Harrison and Aidan Ruddock.
The club was greeted with good news prior to kick off with the news that former young player of the season Milky was ready to make his return to rugby and impressive prop Gaz Morgan was also on the road to recovery.
Sadly as the game kicked off it was more of the same from Five Ways who started very slowly. A combination of some rusty play and missed tackles not to mention some excellent off load play from Ross found us on the back foot from the word go. The Ross full back caused problems all game joining the line at will and often managing to off load out of the tackle to one of numerous support players. This resulted in some very early tries being conceded and a very difficult first half which Five Ways lost 33 0. However, the effort did not drop and when we narrowed the defensive line we managed to stop the progress of Ross through the middle things improved drastically. The improved defensive performance was coupled with an increased amount of possession. We began to play with some courage led by George (I can play anywhere) Leech who made an excellent break through the heart of the defence. As George stormed through the middle of the park with only the full back to beat he was stopped by some excellent defence. The move broke down but it was a barn storming run that encouraged Five Ways to attack and with the half time whistle came the chance to regroup and utilise the large bench on offer.
As the second half began Five Ways looked like a different team. Jess Banner who was captaining the side in the absence of Ian Chaston tackled like a man possessed and on several occasion foiled the Ross attack with some excellent man and ball collisions. His chest level tackling knocked the attackers back and stopped any off loads. His example was followed by each player on the team and with the pack starting to dominate Ross at the set piece the signs and patterns of play looked good. The front five began to put the squeeze on Ross in the set plays with credit going to Kyle in his first start as prop. He scrummaged well and tackled well around the break down and was aided by the experienced and enthusiastic Ash Hayden. Al Rodgers rolled back the years and the combined effort of the whole pack was impressive. With the increased level of possession FWOE managed to start to move the ball wide and test the defensive line. Sadly this is where the rustiness showed with breaks made or overlaps created we failed to turn possession into points. Some stray passes and dropped catches left the team thinking what might have been. For the team to challenge this season we need to take these half chances. That is not to say we didn’t attack well and in the last phase of the game some excellent team work resulted in a long period of possession. This encouraged Sam Bosley to work hard off his wing and nearly score in the corner. Sam has been a new player this season committed and determined to learn but was unable to sneak over the whitewash on this occasion.
With the final whistle it finished 44 0. With FWOE on the wrong end of a heavy defeat it is not all doom and gloom and there are some huge positives, especially the second half performance. However, the new FWOE have a tougher edge this season and defeat is not so willingly accepted with several players disappointed at full time. This bodes well as we strive to be a tougher team to beat and a team that starts at the first whistle. Well done to all who played it was great to see new players combined with returning players.
Thank you to John Mounter for the match report.