This week the Old Boys welcomed HSBC to the Fortress keen to make amends for the loss away earlier on in the season. An expectant crowd of VP’s lined the touch line for this game due to the earlier annual VP lunch in the club house. Full of pork, cheese and port the VP’s were in good spirits and very much looking forward to cheering the Willies on to victory.
The teams took to the field with the Willies playing down the slight slope and with a strong head wind. The willies knew that with the elements they would have to make this half count and get points on the board.
The game kicked off with the Willies looking to go long and put HSBC under instant pressure. Both teams looked very evenly matched in both size and quality and from the first 5 minutes Willies knew they were going to have to perform to their best if they were going to take the points away at the end of this game.
A rather uneventful first 20 minutes was played out largely in the middle of the park as both teams cancelled each other out. A try did go begging from the captain who was quickest to react from a HSBC mistake, hacking the ball past the last man it was a sprint to the line. With his football skills put firmly to the test Bowie over kicked to see the ball roll out the back of the dead ball zone when flopping on the ball would of seen a try awarded. Willies looked to regroup and take confidence that if they got up quick on HSBC mistakes would be made.
With a little over 15 minutes of the first half remaining Willies looked to have squandered the chance to go in at half time with any real lead or points on the board at all. Then Ben Shears found himself with space to run at HSBC. As he has done on so many occasions this season with his lightning pace Shears made vital ground up the wing towards the line, a good covering tackle from the HSBC winger saw the ball set and presented for scrum half Burton and with support from the forwards several crash balls inside the HSBC 22 resulted in Oli Woolcock crashing over just to the right of the post for the first points of the game. Conversion added and Willies had a slim 7-0 lead. With time running out the Willies looked for more points and when a penalty was awarded some way out just inside HSBC’s half the captain elected for a kick a goal hopefully using the wind to help the ball on its way. The kick was perfect and the willies turned round at half time with a narrow 10-0 lead.
A battling first half that looked to be getting away from the Willies ended with some consolation of 10 points but with the whole of the second half to play up the slight slope and into the wind the Old Boys had it all to do and would need to improve on silly handling mistakes that blighted the first half.
HSBC having watched the Willies pass up the opportunity to use the wind to kick good field position set about immediately using this to their advantage and with a boot down field the willies found themselves defending on their 22. From a line out Willies looked to have not fully switched on after half time and a simple move in the HSBC centre saw their guy go over for and easy converted try, 10-7 the score with little over 10 minutes of the 2nd half played. This was the wakeup call the Willies didn’t need but seemed to work as they put in a strong 20 minutes of play which saw them camp on the HSBC 22 and try line.
With an injury to prop forward Gregor McMillan there was a welcome return to first team action for Lewis “The Pirate” Hepper who has been injured since the end of last season. Add to this the fresh legs of big Ricky Pearce on for Cookie and a dominant scrum began to play havoc with HSBC on their own line. No less than 8 scrums in the space of 10 minutes might have seen the ref award a penalty try for persistent infringements. He didn’t but he did send one of the HSBC guys to the bin for a rest. Feeling hard done by for not getting the penalty try Willies looked to make this lengthy possession and field position count and from another scrum on the HSBC line the ball was spun out to the captain who wrong footed his man and cut back in to run a try in under the posts. Conversion added 17- 7.
The Willies now had that vital breathing space of a converted try and a penalty from HSBC just to draw the scores level and with less than 10 minutes to play were confident they could see the game out.
HSBC had other ideas and saved their best ruby for the final stages of the game with a well worked try under the posts, with the conversion added and the score 17-14 the Willies began to worry that the first halves poor handling and missed chances would come back to haunt them. Luckily for them the ref blew for the end of the game as a relived Willies side celebrated.
That’s 6 wins in a row now for the Willies if you include the AWO awarded for the Footscray game. A string of results which have seen this young side hold their own in a competitive league. Still in 5th place but with a game in hand on 4th placed Vigo who got a very good 18-18 draw away at league leaders Park House this weekend sees the points gap reduced to 3. Willies were hoping for a Park House win but a resurgent Vigo have been picking up the pace of late and the Willies target of 4th place will mean they will have to battle right to the very end of the season. With 3 league games left it’s still all to play for.
VP Jason Stone was today’s match sponsor and having not been back to the fortress for some years was very impressed with the performance and the way in which his beloved Old Willies have gone from strength to strength over the last few seasons.
Jason elected The Big Bad G.A.V as his man of the match. A great game from the No8 who looks to have finally put his injury troubles behind him. Strong in the tackle and always on the look out for the crash ball, Gav played a vital part in getting the Willies over the line today.
DOTD day fell to a man who seems to get this award more than most. Today it was because it was his birthday the day before and for no other reason, so not for the first time Reece Price stepped up. The captain also elected VP Jason Stone to do a pint with the young Willies just because he felt being and old boy he should lead by example. Pints were done with Jason coming last and blaming the fact “We don’t drink fosters in Windsor” Well Jason in the Medway towns we do!!!
Celebrations ran on into the night with the Old Boys treating the youngsters to several renditions of that classic song “Delilah” along with a game of Timu’s favourite Spoof for a kicking followed by bog roll up the bum and set on fire…not really a game but hilarious to watch none the less .
UP THE WILLIES