Sat 27
1st XV
Gillingham Anchorians


By trevor newnham
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There comes a day, when a team flying high get their wings burnt by the sun, and like Icarus come crashing to earth. And this was one of those days – although there was no sun in sight, hidden somewhere behind grey clouds, a chill in the air heralding winter. And the home team were like the skies , leaden, no light. Gillingham Anchorians came and were obviously pumped, hungry and ready to fight to the last.
Both sides started scrappily, the cold rain laden wind numbing fingers and brains. Arguably enjoying greater possession and territory, Anchorians came a-knocking at the door, but a combination of good defence and handling errors by the visitors, kept the door shut. However, it came as no surprise when Anchorians went ahead through the boot of their fly half, Ted Shand, who kicked the first of many penalties awarded against Vigo. The Villagers struggled to understand the referee’s interpretation of the Laws all game, really, especially at the breakdown.
The game could be boiled down to fumble, fumble, penalty, score. The Vigo ‘jackals’, all too often, were left bewildered as they tried to move bodies out of the way and were penalised. This is no excuse for the result, as Anchorians played with more hunger throughout the match, and fully deserved their win.
The Villagers fought hard to get back in the game, but their regular good supply of ball from the lines out, was thwarted by such as Richard Kyle whose stealing of the ball from Vigo was excellent. Although the scrums were evenly matched, Vigo could gain little rhythm. Anchs’ scrum half, Olly Dawson, also needed to be looked after, one searing break especially, almost opening the Vigo defence. Vigo kept striving but’ all too often, came a loud blast of the whistle, Shand clearing the lines. Slowly but surely, Vigo began to turn the screw, and now it was Gillingham’s turn to throw away penalties. Dave Winstone kept pinging the ball into the corner, to set up a catch and drive. But Anchs resisted the drives, and then invariably came the penalty against Vigo. But the weight of penalties in the red zone told and skipper Mark Barfoot took a team yellow and was off for ten minutes. Vigo sensed an opportunity and a series of charges battered at the door, which was eventually breached by Marcus Hunt, deep into added time of the first half. For once, Vigo kept the ball in a series of forward rumbles, and eventually worked the ball to Marcus Hunt, probably his first (and last) pass of the game. He blasted through a few defenders to score. James Clemmence kicked a fine conversion to give Vigo a narrow lead.
The countenance of the Vigo coaches as they stormed off at the break foretold what sort of reception the players would get. But it didn’t seem to work. Vigo were all too predictable in their attacks, the ball barely reaching their strike runners. Vigo attacked on a narrow front, which was food and music to the visiting defence. And, of course, every break down seemingly, Vigo were penalised; Jake French, stand in captain, was forever asking the referee for the reason, and looked as equally bewildered as before asking. Vigo were now kicking into the wind and were struggling to clear their lines. Gillingham began to take control, as it became the Ted Shand Show. Twice Vigo coughed up the ball, Anchorians retrieved it and twice Ted Shand was on hand to score. With the score at 7-13, Vigo needed to score a converted try, and attacked. Anchs resisted stoutly, and naturally, Vigo aided and abetted them with poor decision making, wild passes and missed tackles.
Liam Wiltshire, off the bench, had one ferocious drive as Vigo fought hard, a couple of such charges looking promising but Vigo needed more wit to break down the walls. They didn’t have it. Shand kicked a penalty to stretch the lead, and Vigo looked beaten. It was really no surprise when Shand scored again in the last move, in a remarkable day for him scoring all of his sides points.

Vigo team: O.McSweeney-Atkins; A.Fitzgerald (rep: L.Wiltshire), L.Byrne-Stevens (rep: P.Checksfield), J.Clemmence; D.Winstone, N.Covill; W. James, G.Rawling (Rep: B.Buckland), D.Norton; J.French (capt.), B.Moorhouse; L.Henderson, D.Mickelburgh; N.McPherson
Referee: Andy Bishop (SEFed)
Man of the Match: Ted Shand (Anchorians)
Vigo’s Peoples’ Choice: J.French
Scorers: Vigo : Try: . Hunt (40+6’). Con: Clemmence. Anchorians : Tries: Shand (50’, 59’, 80’). Pens: Shand (2)

Nick McPherson: We just made too many errors to compete. We could not match their intensity. We need to look deep into ourselves and come back stronger next week.
Dom Saunders : One of those days when nothing we tried came off. Anchs obviously wanted it more on the day.
Mark Barfoot (Anchs captain). This was a great win for us: I think both sides competed well. We showed great heart. Our defence, especially in the first half, won it for us.

MOG: Vigo were too predictable, their kicking game poor. They had their moments but too few. No doubt, they will get bounce back next week against Southwark, although their home game against Dover was a HWO this week. It remains to be seen for what reason.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 27, Nov 2021




London 3 South East

League position

Gillingham Anchorians