In a great advertisement for grass roots rugby Vigo edged out a good Canterbury side for a morale boosting victory, scoring five tries, including a first for the hugely promising Nathan Miles. Played in good spirit, and refereed extremely well, Vigo entertained a healthy home crowd in the Spring sunshine here on the high veldt.
Canterbury, lying second in the table, started confidently, their fly half and inside centre seemingly in control. For ten minutes, Vigo were chasing shadows, as Canterbury eased their way downfield. Vigo’s defence was in a bit of a disorganised state, giving their opponents too much room. A penalty pumped deep, put Vigo on the back foot and when Vigo failed to deal with a Crossfield kick, Canterbury scored. It appears that as the ball came down, Matt Griffiths and Mike Szodi tackled each other, leaving the Canterbury player, Simon, a large hole through which he sauntered. And he added the conversion.
Gradually, Vigo began to gather their wits. Nathan Miles belied his size with some solid defence, as Canterbury began to make less headway. Jack Knight, making a welcome return to these shores after a long spell of hedonistic delights in Ibiza, or some such, made a strong run. A huge hand off – about which he could not stop talking about apparently – put his would-be tackler down, and over he went. Bob Fitton chipped over the conversion with languid ease. Inspired by the Knight try, Vigo attacked with some confidence, and Nathan Miles, in his first season at senior rugby scored a joyous try, his first for the club at this level.
Vigo should have scored again but an intended pass to Rob Carleton was a tad high; well, it might not have been if Big Rob had been sitting on Chris Sims shoulders…. If Chris had been standing on a stepladder. Be that as it may, it was a bit high, and Canterbury breathed again, and punished Vigo with a fine try by the inside centre, Chris Wickington, converted by Simon, just before half time. There was still time for Vigo to come close to scoring, Ollie Stringer denied a try by the perfectly placed referee.
Canterbury started the second half with some intensity and Vigo were under the cosh. But gradually, their big pack began to make less headway. Whether that was the influence of that man mountain, Mike Grayland, coming off the bench, or just Canterbury running out of energy, was a moot point. Jamie McLoughlin had also come off the bench and he started to do that thing at which he is a master – namely stealing the ball at the break down – arguably the best in the Club. Josh Miles, who was also having a fine match, watched and learnt. The two of them working in tandem began to starve the visitors of the ball. The visiting midfield triumvirate at 9, 10 and 12 began to wane in influence, and Vigo turned the tide. Jack Knight made another powerful surge through the centre, looked up saw he had half the field to run and wisely handed over to Ollie Stringer. Ollie looked up and saw he had half the pitch to run and looked round for support. The support studiously ignored him, so Ollie was forced into running. And scoring. After about five minutes of treatment - oxygen mask, iron lung, drip feed – he resumed. Bob Fitton, in the meantime, converted in his own inimitable style.
Vigo scored again soon after. This time from much closer range. From a five-metre scrum, Dan Couchman picked up and crashed forward, slipping the ball to Bob Fitton who went over, adding the conversion. By now, Vigo were in control, apart from Rob Carleton apparently finding different ways to be caught offside. Poor Jamie McLoughlin then came offside once, but the referee had by now lost patience and promptly sent Jamie to the Naughty Step. Jamie stood there glowering at the injustice, whilst Rob presumed an air of innocence, studiously ignoring the Mcloughlin glare.
Vigo made light of their one-man disadvantage and came hard at Canterbury. As they pressed ,then so Canterbury started to make mistakes. Vigo advance, and winning a ruck ball, Fitton fed Matt Griffiths who thundered over with half the Canterbury defence hanging on for dear life. Matt went over the line anyway, Fitton adding the extras.
But Canterbury were not done. A fine side, as evinced by their League position, they had the last word, when the scrum half, Sam Rowd, sniped round the blind side to score on the last play. Chris converted with a magnificent kick from Sleepy Hollow, the budding sink hole in the corner . And that was that. A fine match, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, including the Canterbury men, gracious in defeat.
Vigo team: M.Szodi; W.Millins, O.Jarman, M.Griffiths, N.Miles; H.Pattison, B.Fitton; R.Turvey, B.Buckland, W.Castle; J.Knight, R.Carleton; D.Dunn, J.Miles; D.Couchman (capt.)
Replacements (all used) M.Grayland, O.Stringer, J.McLoughlin