PRE-SEASON MATCH Pt. 2
I make no promises, I can't do golden rings
But I'll give you everything
And that is what Vigo do. They give everything. To the end. Arriving at Priestfields with a much-changed team from the first pre-season game, one could argue that Vigo were missing half of their first choice team. Well, if that is so, then Ben Buckland, 2nd XV captain must be licking his lips in anticipation, because this team played with so much heart, so much spirit and just a stubborn refusal to lay down. So what that Medway were missing some of their regulars. Their first team is three divisions above Vigo’s. Their first team were on an adjacent pitch putting KCS to the sword.
So taken in perspective, this was a highly encouraging win for the Villagers.
Vigo started as one would expect a scratch side with not a lot of game time. A lack of cohesion contributed to some rusty handling and passing, and Medway were drawing penalties from their visitors. The home side were also having some trouble finding their rhythm but one thing they did do well was counter rucking. Vigo were getting turned over too often at the breakdown, useful ball coming their way. Vigo’s defence, however, was pretty solid. Big hits were coming in and Medway’s eyes too often distracted from the ball, distracted by the prospect of another tackle. Gradually Vigo lifted the siege and counter-attacked with Connor Cutts blasting away down the left wing. Tony Whitehead was in support but was held up over the line.
Now we had one of this season’s new Laws unveiled. Held up means the defending team get a goal line drop out. Medway took it but kicked it straight into touch which resulted in a line out for Vigo on the ten-metre line. Catch and drive, and suddenly Luke Henderson, looking in great form already, darted round the blind side to score. Arguably against the run of play but a score, nonetheless.
Medway rose to the challenge, moving the ball sweetly along the back line, from one side to the other with excellent handling, the ball found it’s way to right winger, Rhys Burns, who was able to trot over the line to level the scores barely five minutes behind Vigo’s opener. This score galvanised the home side but Vigo’s full back, Sam Patterson, was in fine fettle, counter attacking from deep, finding Cutts in support who once again made a lot of ground. Nothing came of this but Vigo’s confidence, nonetheless, was growing along with more cohesive movement and handling. Medway’s centre, Charlie Sanderson was carried off after a collision, both sides feeling some strain and wear.so early in the season.
Medway’s pack began to exert some pressure on Vigo, whose lines-out weren’t exactly a thing of beauty and Medway were still pilfering too much ball at the breakdown, but Vigo continued to resist stubbornly. Tommy Barrett was quite excellent, tackling hard and making clever half breaks, but it was Ben |Moorhouse who really caught the eye, exploding from a line out and making considerable ground. Again, the attack came to naught but Vigo showed they were still in this game. Medway needed to take notice. But they were caught napping from a penalty. Whilst they hesitated, querying the decision, Nick McPherson tapped, gave the ball to an impressive Rob Carleton who smashed forward, was stopped on the line but found Moorhouse in support. Try. Tony Whitehead converted to give Vigo a narrow lead going into the break.
Half time gave Coach John Whitehead a chance to ring the changes. Well, the raft of changes consisted just the sole representative of Vigo’s bench, Liam Wiltshire, taking over from Rob Carleton, who was soon back on when Tony Whitehead was injured.
Anyway, Medway started strongly, and good movement saw Vigo put under pressure, a great cover tackle by Barrett preventing a try. Medway, however, were warming to their task, exerting pressure at the set pieces and generally taking control. Sensing a growing dominance in the scrum, they opted for them when awarded penalties near Vigo’s line. Vigo held firm as wave after wave of attacks rolled towards them. The pressure told and Vigo could not hold back for ever, a fluid move allowing Burns to cross for his second, Brad Ford adding the extras.
This score stung Vigo into action and they responded immediately, Adam Fitzgerald, smashing through almost to the line. Vigo quickly recycled the ball, transferred it quickly to Rob Carleton who was stopped on the line but had Barrett in support who easily scored, Dave Winstone converted.
Sam Smith, who had given sterling service, was injured. Scrums became uncontested and Vigo were now down to 14 men, as indeed were Medway as they ran out of replacements. Medway struck back with a try by Bobby Ellis, again converted by Ford, after again attacking Vigo along a broad front. Scores level and, to be fair, it was the least Medway deserved. They enjoyed more possession and had more territory than Vigo but had generally found Vigo’s defence suffocating.
Medway might have thought that they could now march on to victory, but Adam Fitzgerald swiftly disabused them of that notion, smashing over for a typical try. Shell shocked Medway gathered themselves for one last effort to retrieve the situation but it was Vigo who had the last word. Dave Winstone found touch from a penalty kick, the ball was won and Liam Wiltshire cantered through to seal the match. Winstone converted, referee Jordan Davies blew the whistle for the last time, a rare smile was detected on the face of Coach Whitehead and that, folks, was that.
Vigo Team: S.Patterson; A.Fitzgerald, T.Barrett, D.Winstone, C.Cutts; T.Whitehead (capt.), N.Covill; S.Smith, B.Buckland, D.Norton; B.Moorhouse, R.Carleton (rep: L.Wiltshire); L.Henderson, R.Hayes; N.McPherson
Referee: Jordan Davies (SE FED)
tries: Medway: Burns(24', 51'),Ellis (71'). Cons: Ford (2)
Vigo: Henderson (17') Moorhouse (30'), Barrett (56'), Fitzgerald (78'), Wiltshire (80'). Cons: Winstone (2), Whitehead (1)
Andy Prizeman (Vigo legend) Given that was a scratch side, no-one looked out of place. Medway had a lot of ball but Vigo’s defence was impressive, and then when we had the ball we were a tad more clinical.
Bob Jones (older Vigo legend): we seemed to be at our most potent when defending in our 22.