BUCKO’S BULKY BOYS BATTER STONES
By trevor newnham
MAIDSTONE 2nd XV 8 VIGO 2nd XV 88
PREMIER 2 EAST
Vigo hammered Maidstone on Saturday scoring 14 tries in the process, but all credit to Maidstone who took their beating with great dignity, the score not really reflecting the match. The home side never stopped trying, a late try for their influential stand off, Euan Caborn, testimony to their spirit.
The Club are obviously going through a crisis lately, and whatever the reasons for their predicament, are still one of the senior sides in Kent, a proper rugby club,and one can only hope that this fine club, going back nearly 140 years will soon return to their pre-eminence. Vigo showed no mercy, however, and with so many of the Clubs youngsters showing their great promise, Vigo showed that they are building towards a good future. With England playing at Twickenham and a rash of injuries hitting the Club, Ben Buckland was forced to field some 1st XV players but played them out of position, although that was no consolation to the home side.
The procession began early, Callum Gibson and Liam Evans crossing within the first ten minutes, when Maidstone were still a credible force. Once the floodgates had opened, however, there was no way to stop an irresistible force. Euan Caborn, returning to the club after a year out, looked like a class act at stand off, knocking over a penalty to reduce the deficit, but Maidstone were having a real problem with their defensive line, all too often shooting out of the blocks too early. The referee, Simon Warren, who had a fine match, finally got his message across, but the damage had been done, a string of early penalties both emasculating any promising Maidstone attack, or allowing Ollie Stringer to pump his kicks into Maidstone territory to set up another Vigo attack.
Like London buses, Vigo tries came along in twos and threes. Adam Fitzgerald and Matt Griffiths, both big, strong wingers bulldozed through a shaky Maidstone defence in the space of a minute. Then Liam Evans, Dom Mickelburgh and Nick McPherson blasted over for tries in the space of five minutes before half time. Stringer booted five conversions for a convincing 3-45 lead at half time. Maidstone had showed glimpses of attacking threat, their bearded number 8, Karl Floyd, always a muscular presence, but alas and alack, their defence just was not in good order. As hard as Caborn cajoled his backs into some sort of alignment, they then became totally disjointed when Vigo ran at them, which the Villagers did with some relish. Darren Cox should have had a try, being tackled before he received a pass with the line at his mercy, a fact which he bitterly contested with all and sundry. This injustice fired Mr Cox up so much he absolutely thundered into attack, but unfortunately received a heavy blow to the head. The over-worked Maidstone physio swathed Darren’s head with a pristine white bandage, which with Vigo’s black shirt, rather made our Darren look like a pint of Guinness.
There was to be no let up by Vigo in the second half. The Evans brothers were all over the place, in a good way, whilst Matt Lane making his first appearance for 13 months, beavered away in his under-stated but effective way, leaving the pyrotechnics to those around him. Matt Griffiths took a well earned rest, making wat for the promising speedster, Connor Cutts, and Vigo hit the try trail again. Maidstone were desperately trying to pin Vigo back, their hard working pack working diligently for any ball, but the stiff wind was not always a friend to Maidstone’s clearing kicks. Nick McPherson and Fitzgerald feasted on any ball which didn’t make touch. McPherson took one such kick and looking up saw a vast gap behind Maidstone’s defence, chipped through and won the race to the ball, Stringer converting to bring up the half century. Stringer himself then ran through a flimsy defence, Adam Fitzgerald converting whilst Stringer got his breath back, before Ben Moorhouse, making a decent fist of it at inside centre, blasted over. Lewis Evans showed great pace with a run from the half way line, which Callum Gibson converted. When Fitzgerald scored soon after, leaving half a dozen bodies in his wake, there was brief show of show boating, which George Rawlings firmly put a stop to. This Club should always both win and lose with dignity, and George was quite right to point this out. A rather chastened couple of players returned to the task in hand, Stringer reverting to conversion duties successfully.
Maidstone kept coming back, their excellent pack beavering away, finally working up quite a head of steam. Vigo were forced back into defensive mode, Buckland especially leaving an imprint on one or two, as the Stones rolled forward. The home number 7 – forgive me I didn’t get his name – was everywhere along with the afore-mentioned Floyd, as Vigo withstood a bit of a battering, and Maidstone’s reward duly came. As Vigo conceded a penalty under pressure, the young scrum half Ben Tugwell, reacted quickly with a tap and go. Caborn changed direction at pace, catching Vigo flat footed and scooted down the blind side for a fine try.
Maidstone, encouraged and heartened returned to the attack, but were caught by a sucker punch, Fitzgerald once again battering his way down the wing to complete his hat trick. The referee offered Maidstone the chance to retire early, but to their immense credit, they turned him down, accepting the full eighty so when Will James scuttled through through in his inimitable style,ignoring at least four players outside him to score, Gibson converting, it was a rather cruel end to the match, the referee blowing up immediately.
Vigo team: N.McPherson; A.Fitzgerald, D.Mickelburgh, B.Moorhouse (rep: L.Wiltshire), M.Griffiths (rep: C.Cutts); O.Stringer, C.Gibson; D.Cox (rep: W.James), G.Rawlings, L.Walker; M.Lane, R.Carleton; Liam Evans, Lewis Evans; B.Buckland (capt.)
Referee: Simon Warren (Kent)
Scorers: Maidstone : Try: Caborn (60’). Pen: Caborn (1). Vigo Tries: Gibson (6’), Liam Evans (9’, 35’), Fitzgerald (20’, 65’, 69’), Griffiths (21’), Mickelburgh (37’) McPherson (40’, 45’), Stringer (50’), Moorhouse (55’), Lewis Evans (63’), James (78’). Cons: Stringer (7), Gibson (3), Fitzgerald (1)
Man of the Match : Adam Fitzgerald.
Ben Buckland (Vigo captain): The game was played in fantastic spirit, all credit to Maidstone. It was a good team effort by us, the score line probably a bit flattering. Ball in hand, Maidstone gave us some problems, but luckily for us, they didn’t retain possession enough to build up a head of steam.