VIGO 39 BROMLEY 29
By trevor newnham
VIGO SURVIVE SCARE
LONDON SOUTH-EAST 3
Vigo held on to a seemingly comfortable half time lead but survived a ferocious fight back by Bromley in the second half. The Villagers don’t need Hallowe’en masks and witches’ costumes and the like to frighten their long-suffering supporters. They just need to cruise into control, turn off and finish scrapping for their lives to send the pulses racing on the touch line.
Bromley have, apparently, made quite a habit of starting slowly this season, and it must have been déjà vu for their supporters – present in decent numbers – as Vigo raced out of the blocks with purpose. On their first visit to Bromley territory, they were awarded a penalty which Tony Whitehead despatched without fuss. Receiving the ball from the kick off, Dom Carslaw chipped ahead, the Bromley defender receiving the ball and Tony Whitehead at the same time. Ben Moorhouse cleared up the resultant debris, Adam Fitzgerald powered on, Bromley coughed up the penalty which Whitehead pumped into the corner. Liam Wiltshire cleanly won the ball, his team mates gathered round and drove for the line and over, Harry Wilson emerging from the pile of bodies over the line. Try. Whitehead converted. Five minutes. Vigo 10-0 ahead. Happy days.
Your correspondent had awoken earlier in the day to the sound of ice being scraped from windshields, and here on the high veldt, the temperature was lower, a brisk wind adding chill factor. First day of winter but Vigo were warming to the task quite nicely. Stephen Pillow knocked over a penalty as Bromley fought back, but Vigo were soon back in their impressive stride. Elliot Stickings was ghosting through gaps, Moorhouse rather more direct as Vigo attacked. Worryingly, Luke Vint went down in a heap, claret flowing. Sam Patterson trotted on. Such is the injury crisis at Vigo Sam had been selected for the 3rd team on Tuesday, promoted to the 2nd team on Thursday and here he was on Saturday facing Bromley in the League. Whilst Vint was being bandaged, Patterson was soon in the action as Vigo attacked across a broad front. Bromley fell back as Vigo waves crashed against their defences. James Powell, at outside centre for Bromley, had already shown glimpses of skill but Vigo were relentless. Vigo’s scrum was in good order, Dan Norton, Wilson and Will James getting under their opposite numbers to give Vigo a good platform and when they had the put in at a scrum fifteen metres out, they produced a good shove which disorientated the Bromley back row. Luke Henderson, in superb form, picked the ball up and smashed over. Whitehead converted. Five minutes later Henderson repeated the dose and scored again after the Bromley scrum were smashed back.
Bromley were reeling, the constant pressure addling their brains. When they panicked trying to field a kick, they only managed to clear the ball as far as Ollie Stringer who flicked a pass to Dave Winstone who wove a line through a rather statuesque defence to score in the corner. Across the field, the eerie howling of the greyhounds at the local kennels seemed to warn of impending doomfor the visitors. Vigo were now ahead 27-3 and should have scored again in the last play of the first half, over-ambition denying them a chance to score. However, a bonus point in the bag, Bromley looking dishevelled, Vigo full of it.
What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, this is Vigo. They seem determined to make your correspondent’s ticker go into palpitations. Perhaps they relaxed thinking the game was in the bag. Perhaps Bromley were shocked into life by their coach. Whatever. They absolutely tore into Vigo from the off. Suddenly, Vigo were falling off the tackle. Suddenly, their passes were going astray. Jack Saunders, was ferocious in his quest for the ball, whilst Powell was finding gaps in Vigo’s defence. Pillow was linking well and Vigo were forced ever backwards. Under pressure, penalties were beginning to pile up. Pillow pumped one in the corner. Bromley caught and drove, and Mike Hazell was at the bottom of the pile, try secured. Pillow converted from round about Harvel with a superb kick. On they came. More penalties, Mr Khanna losing patience and carding Liam Wiltshire for slowing the ball down illegally. Bromley sensed blood, and flew at Vigo, causing panic in the ranks. A misplaced clearance kick was fielded by Saunders who smashed through some admittedly half hearted tackles to score.
Bromley had to make their extra number count and they did. Tails up they attacked, a lovely passing movement split open the Vigo defence and George Scott was able to stroll over the line. Pillow converted another monster. Third Quarter Blues, and some, as Vigo looked a completely different side than that which had controlled the first half. They looked dishevelled, at odds, whilst Bromley were flying. It needed a spark of inspiration to resuscitate the Vigo spirit. It came not from an electrifying run, but something much more prosaic. Bromley had just been attacking again, when they lost the ball forward. Vigo’s scrum absolutely pulverised the Bromley eight, hurling them back yards and winning a penalty. Suddenly the complexion changed. The crowd found fresh voice, the Villagers rejuvenated. Now it was Bromley’s turn to cough up a couple of penalties. Whitehead found the corner, Wiltshire won the line out, James looped and made a dent, Vigo recycled the ball quickly and Stickings stepped and pirouetted over the line with a bit of a soft shoe shuffle. Whitehead added the extras.
That calmed Vigo. They were able to resume normal service. They could see the finishing line and perhaps got a bit cocky. Trying to force the pace, they only had to keep it simple, but over elaborated and let Bromley off the hook. However, a magnificent run by Wiltshire who rampaged through the Bromley defence like a berserker, laid waste all before him. An equally superb tackle halted his progress virtually on the line, the ball was quickly recycled, a superb pass by Dan Norton released Phil Checksfield who covered the final five inches to the line with aplomb. Surely that was it? A stake through the heart, lid nailed securely shut. But no. To their credit, Bromley smashed back upfield, in search of a bonus point which could be crucial in such a tight division. They threw everything at Vigo, forcing penalties. George Rawlings came on, thirty seconds later he was off, yellow carded for killing the ball. Bromley kicked for touch, won the line out and drove for the line, Saunders scoring a hugely deserved try. Pillow once again converted with a terrific kick from the touchline.
So, Bromley had the last word in an absorbing contest, but Vigo have their sights firmly set on top four, just three points separating them from second place.
Team: E.Stickings; A.Fitzgerald (rep: S.Patterson), L.Vint, O.Stringer, P.Checksfield; T.Whitehead, D.Carslaw; W.James, H.Wilson (rep: G.Rawlings), D.Norton; L.Wiltshire, B.Moorhouse; D.Mickelburgh (rep: R.Hayes), D.Winstone (capt.); L.Henderson.
Referee: R.Khanna (S.E Fed.)
Man of the match: Luke Henderson
Scorers: Vigo: Tries: Wilson (5’), Henderson (28’,33’), Winstone (36’), Stickings (73’), Checksfield (77’). Cons: Whitehead (3). Pens: Whitehead (1). Bromley: Tries: Hazell (45’), Saunders (52’,80+3’), Scott (61’). Cons: Pillow (3). Pens: Pillow (1)
Aiden Devane (Bromley capt.) Bit of the story of our season really. Start too slow then play catch up. We lacked aggression in patches, not up quickly enough in the first half. I am sure we will improve as the season progresses, but we need to play with the same intensity of the third quarter for the whole match.
John Whitehead (Vigo coach): Good at times, abysmal at others. The players need to focusand play what’s in front of them. We tried to force things and were nearly made to pay for it by a good Bromley side. Our first up defence has to improve, too.
Jake French – a view from the casualty station: The first half was really good; we stuck to the system and game plan. We could have executed better especially moving the ball from ruck and maul. In the second half, perhaps we thought it was all over, and withstood a bit of a battering.