The Christmas tree has been taken down, the baubles and decorations consigned back to a box in the loft; the last remains of the turkey long gone; and yet, here were Vigo still extending the season of goodwill to their visitors, gifting them two tries in the space of a minute round half time to virtually wrap up victory.
Vigo were hit with withdrawals on the morning of the game, three key players hit with some kind of a bug or another, and rather struggled to get the Christmas pud out of their system in a lacklustre opening half hour. They made a complete Horlicks of the kick-off allowing Old Dunstonians to get on the front foot from the start. As Vigo struggled to extricate themselves, their visitors attacked across a broad front. Vigo held but were eventually outdone when a sharp attack exposed their hosts’ blind side and Jamal Gobir sped away to open the scoring. Vigo continued to play with some degree of lethargy, which Dunstonians revelled in, attacking at will, keeping the ball alive with some good offloading. Inevitably the gap appeared and number 8, George Hart, scuttled through for a well worked try.
Now, Vigo began to work themselves up into a bit of effort. Chris Johnson disrupted a Dunstonian line out, Will James grabbed the loose ball and rumbled forward, but although the attack petered out, at least Vigo had shown some intent. They decided that this attacking lark was quite good and continued to press forward, raising the pace of their game. Dunstonians were put firmly on the defensive as Vigo strung together a series of sharp drives, culminating in Dave Winstone driving for the line. Great defence held him up short of the line but big Ben Moorhouse was on hand to complete the attack and score. Winstone converted.
This was a bit more like it and Vigo continued to attack, their ball retention excellent, their off loading secure, their support runners alert. They came hard at Dunstonians who defended solidly but were eventually overwhelmed as Rob Hayes smashed forward to be stopped on the line. This time it was Elliot Stickings who was the supporting runner and scored. Again Winstone added the extras to give Vigo the lead. Dunstonians fought back extricating a penalty which the normally reliable Michael Ubee dragged wide. Vigo returned to the attack and won themselves a penalty which Dave Winstone tried from far out, the ball drifting wide. But then when Vigo looked like they were getting themselves back in the match, in the last play of the half, a telegraphed pass was plucked easily out of the air by Francesco Pennachia who sauntered half the length of the pitch to score. Ubee converted, the whistle blew for half time, Vigo shaking their heads in disbelief.
Their brains were still probably scrambled by the time they resumed as they gifted another soft try from the restart. Vigo kicked off, Dunstonians fielded the ball, attempted a clearance that had not much distance but bounced off a Vigo defenders shoulder into the hands of Michael Ubee who sprinted away from a shell shocked Vigo defence for the softest of tries, and suddenly Vigo had managed to find themselves 14-22 down. They must have received a collective Christmas present in ‘’The Art of Mutual Self Destruction’’ as they proceeded to then implode. Daft penalty followed addled thinking followed fumbled pass followed aimless kicks as Dunstonians didn’t really have much to do to keep Vigo at bay. Even the excellent referee, Tim Hartley, seemed exasperated as Vigo continued to offer up daft penalties at regular intervals. Ubee booted one to extend the lead. Craig Whitehead went for a spell in the Naughty Boys Corner for a dangerous tackle.
Things were decidedly gloomy for the Villagers, but there was little spark. They huffed and they puffed but nothing was happening. Phil Sewell came on for a hobbling Dan Norton and added some urgency, but still nothing seemed to be happening. But then, something did click, they strung together a couple of passes and for once the ball remained alive, nobody kicked it away, nobody committed a daft offence and Vigo surged forward in a multi-faceted, multi-pronged attacked which saw Sewell smash over for a fine try, Winstone converting.
Just as I was composing lines about porcine auditory equipment yielding semi-precious stones, naturally, Vigo once more descended into the same muddled miasma of thinking that had marred most of the second half and Dunstonians were able to hang on to their lead with some comfort. A chastening experience for Vigo, indeed.
Star Player: Visiting prop Josh Ajiboye. For Vigo, Liam Wiltshire took the Supporters’ Award.
Scorers: Vigo: Tries: Moorhouse (29’), Stickings (33’), Sewell (73’). Cons: Winstone (3).
Dunstonians: Tries: Gobir (7’), Hart (20’), Pennachia (40’), Ubee (41’). Cons: Ubee (1). Pens: Ubee (1)
Vigo team: O.McSweeney-Atkins; S.Kerr, E.Stickings, J.Clemmence, G.Harrison; D.Winstone, C.Whitehead (rep: D.Carslaw); W.James, B.Buckland, D.Norton (rep: P.Sewell); L.Wiltshire, B.Moorhouse; C.Johnson, D.Brooks (rep: W.Castle); R.Hayes.
Referee: Tim Hartley (SEFed)
John Whitehead (Vigo Head Coach) . An extremely winnable game but we kept switching on and off. When we switched on, we were very good, when we switched off, we were horrible. The players need to take a good, hard look at themselves and decide what direction they want to lead the Club, regarding commitment to training and availability.
Phil Ubee (Dunstonians’ Coach). A hard fought win, losing three players to injury testimony to that, but we stuck at it. Vigo are always a physical side by we did well to manage the game as we did.