Sat 06
1st XV
Old Dunstonians


By trevor newnham
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Vigo made really hard work of this victory, withstanding a late onslaught by their opponents to record their fourth win of the season.
On a cold afternoon at Swanswood, Vigo got off to a wonderful start. From the kick off, Vigo gave away a penalty which Old Dunstonians just booted downfield, yards away from the touchline. Marcus Hunt went snorting off through the first few chasers, and as the visitors streamed over to cover him, he took the tackle, transferred the ball to Ollie McSweeney-Atkins who tore over the line from the halfway line. The last few yards McSweeney-Atkins seemed to be looking round in amazement at how no-one was nearby. A superb individual try. Tony Whitehead added the conversion. 7-0 ahead. Simples.
Dunstonians are notoriously slow starters, according to their long-suffering coaches. Perhaps it is leaving the suburbs to arrive on the high veldt of the North Downs, but apparently, they have been behind early in every game so far. Their pack, however, were in fine fettle, and Vigo were soon in the unusual position of being shunted back, forcing Nick McPherson to have to deal with the ball at the base of a retreating scrum. Which he did with great efficiency. He and Dominic Carslaw at scrum half were able to fashion a veritable silk scarf from the porcine auditory equipment to the extent of maintaining pressure on their opponents. Even though under pressure in the tight, Vigo’s rolling maul was in exemplary order, driving the Old Boys back and extracting a number of penalties, one of which Tony Whitehead attempted only to miss by a small margin.
From such a driving maul, Vigo extended their lead. Ben Moorhouse took the ball at a line-out, his pack gathered round and in a roiling, boiling mass drove over the line for Moorhouse to touch down. 12-0 up after 16 minutes and, apart from their difficulties in the scrummaging department, Vigo seemed settled to ease to a win. However, Dunstonians had other ideas, and began to attack Vigo, who perhaps had begun to relax. The visitors worked their way up field, securing an attacking line-out from a penalty kick, and gave Vigo a dose of their own medicine with a catch and drive. Vigo initially held out but when the ball was moved into the backs, full back Fran Cesco-Pennacchia ran a superb line to score under the posts. Mike Ubee easily converted .
Vigo returned to the fray with some determination, Hunt and Moorhouse both prominent in attack, but all too often , the ball was lost in contact, or a pass was spilled, or a needless penalty was coughed up. It enabled the Old Boys to keep in touch, and in fact threaten on occasion, powerful centre Josh Ajiboye proving to be a handful. The visitors almost scored down their left wing, only to be thwarted by a superb cover tackle by Jake French. Again, Old Dunstonians won the line out and set up another driving maul, extracting a penalty which Mike Ubee converted from some way out. By now, Dunstonians had broken out of their poor start and began to threaten, Vigo’s defence, tested but able to get through to half time without further damage.
As Vigo retreated to the safety of the changing room at half time, one might have surmised it was not going to be all sweetness and light such were the glowering countenances of Vigo’s coaching team. I would hazard a bet that the ‘beep’ machine would be going off like a machine gun. Whatever was said, Vigo came out for the second half with more purpose, greater urgency. Phil Sewell came off the bench adding some resolve to Vigo’s scrum and the Villagers began to advance with some menace. The visitors were put under some pressure which resulted in a few too many penalties to the displeasure of Mr. Wingham, who issued a team warning. Vigo attacked again, a good Crossfield kick by Tony Whitehead just eluding the flying Marcus Hunt. Dunstonians had the drop out from their own line (new Law for this season) but made an error which turned out to be a bit disastrous. They kicked the drop out straight into touch which gave Vigo a ten metre scrum. Previously secure, this time Dunstonians were shunted back and in the ensuing melee, Nick McPherson burrowed under the various bodies to score his fifth try of the season.
Old Dunstonians returned to the fray, their excellent line out jumpers, Charlie Smith and Alex McColough reigning the lines-out, giving the backs a steady stream of ball. Although Ajinboye was a tad quieter, he was still a serious threat, often needing two or three defenders to halt his progress. But it was Vigo who offered Dunstonians a way back into the game with, to borrow a phrase from Wendyball, a soft ‘own goal’. Trying to move the ball away in arguably Dunstonians’ first raid of the half, a pass which wasn’t so much telegraphed as wrapped up in a pink bow that even Hermes couldn’t fail to deliver. Jamie Peccorella couldn’t believe his luck as he steamed in from twenty yards. Ubee’s conversion attempt crucially missed by inches.
Vigo immediately and furiously returned to offence and were soon awarded another penalty which Tony Whitehead safely kicked to stretch Vigo’s lead to 7 points. The visitors now needed two scores to win and attacked furiously. Vigo met them head on. Luke Henderson, Jamie Clemmence and Marcus Hunt were flying into the tackles. It was trench warfare but still Dunstonians attacked. A good move down the threes saw Jean-Pierre Mills drive for the line, only to be seemingly tackled into the corner flag and appear to knock the ball forward. Vigo’s flabber was well and truly gasted, however, when the referee, after lengthy deliberation awarded the try.
Now Dunstonian’s dander was up and they threw everything at Vigo with eight minutes to go. The action was furious and frantic, perhaps too frantic as the visitors snatched at the ball and knocked the ball on or became too over eager and gave away penalties, allowing Vigo to hold on. There was still controversy to come as the referee blew the whistle. Vigo celebrated but the referee had blown for a scrum. One last attempt, deep in extra time, for the Dunstonians to win the match. But, this time, they messed up in the scrum, Vigo gleefully booted the ball into touch for a hard fought win.

Vigo Team: O.McSweeney-Atkins; A.Fitzgerald, P.Checksfield (rep: J.Clemmence 60’), T.Whitehead (capt.), M.Hunt; G.Cook, D.Carslaw; W.Castle (rep: P.Sewell 45’), G.Rawlings, O.James; J.French, L.Henderson, D.Winstone (rep: D.Mickelburgh 74’); N.McPherson.
Referee: Simon Bingham (SEFed)

Man of the Match: Nick McPherson.

Scorers : Vigo ties: McSweeney-Atkins (3’),Moorhouse (16’), McPherson (56’). Cons: Whitehead (2). Pens: Whitehead (1)
Dunstonians: Tries: Cesco-Pennechia (21’), Peccorella(62’). Mills (72’). Cons: Ubee (1). Pens: Ubee (1)

Mike Ubee (Dunstonians Head Coach: Good contest, very close. In a game of small margins, Vigo probably deserved to win, but once again we started too slowly.

Dom Saunders (Vigo asst. coach) Pleased that we won but disappointed we missed out on a bonus point. In the last couple of games we have not played in the style in which we want to play, and today we lost our shape at the breakdown.

Tony Whitehead (Vigo captain): Tough game. We did not keep to our game plan, but I cannot find fault with the players’ application.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 06, Nov 2021




London 3 South East

League position

Old Dunstonians