This has been a tumultuous season for Vigo’s third string. Carl Nightingale, who had started as skipper, was beaten down by the constant demands of running a third team, every week losing players, usually on a Thursday or Friday night and, sadly , resigned. A great loss not only to the team, but the Club as a whole. Dan Carter…sorry, I mean Dan Couchman stepped into the breach, by force of will, or it might have been blackmail or bribery, managed to cobble together a team for the last few fixtures. It meant that a few players played in positions they had never dreamed of, let alone knew existed. For instance, Jack Knight made his debut as scrum half this week, after playing at second row,centre, winger , full back and flanker in the previous 5 weeks. And this sums up this team. The commitment to the club more than makes up for a certain lack of expertise, perhaps. Cheerfully playing where needed, the team have overcome obstacles that would make Tiger Roll hesitate.
So, a team travelled the short distance to Aylesford, another club going through some problems on the pitch this season, their first team dropping to South east 3 next season. However, their third team are mid table, have won more than they lost, and at home are a difficult proposition. So this draw was even more creditable for the Villagers.
Aylesford, whose pack were superb, started strongly but it was Vigo who took the lead, arguably against the run of play. Acquiring the ball, they ran through a series of phases, the ball eventually reaching the Viking David Dunn, who blasted through in typical fashion. Aylesford, shocked into action, fought back strongly. With their pack supplying an endless supply of ball, especially from the tight, Vigo were hard pressed, but they defended stoically, at times heroically, the wispy Nathan Miles, once again, conceding pounds and inches, but tackling way above his pay grade. Nick Haigh, making an all too rare appearance, again showed what the club is missing during his absence. Lewis Pitchell, too, came off the bench to contribute fully, although apparently his predilection of identifying the largest opposition players to attempt to run into was perhaps unwise . But he got up , dusted himself down and threw himself back into the fray.Under pressure, Vigo had a 22 drop out which went straight to their full back who weaved his way through a Vigo defence, for once lacking in concentration. The conversion gave Aylesford a narrow lead at half time.
Vigo came out strongly for the second half, even surviving a bit of a battering by the home pack. The Villagers attacked, setting up camp in the home 22, going through the phases. Aylesford gave away any number of penalties, many in the ‘red zone’ without censure beyond the penalty award, and in this time managed to butcher at least three good scoring opportunities. Aylesford defended well, albeit with a full complement of players when they possibly could have lost a player to the sin bin, and managed to extricate themselves off the back of some good turnovers. They worked their way upfield, but threw away a promising position on Vigo’s 22 metre line with a poor pass. The ball popped up into a rather surprised Dan Carter’s hands - I mean Dan Couchman, who apparently is in the process of changing his name by deed poll to reflect his new found skills as a fly half, or first five eighth as the Kiwis call it. Anyway, the grizzled warrior looked up, noticed he had ¾ of the pitch between him and the line, and wisely decided to kick. Long. Aylesford got into a bit of a muddle securing the kick, scrambling the ball into touch on about their own 22. Vigo won the line out, moved the ball down the line to Will ’Bubblewrap’ Millins who sped over for his fifth try in his debut year, a decent return for the speedy winger. Apart from taking more breaks than a soap opera on ITV, Millins is a useful weapon in Vigo’s tool chest, ever dangerous.
Encouraged Vigo began to look likely, albeit still under pressure in the tight, but unfortunately began to give away rather puzzling penalties. Aylesford counted their blessings and began to pound away at the Vigo line. A deep kick was knocked on by a Vigo defender and Aylesford hammered Vigo back in the scrum, scoring a pushover try. The conversion, which would have given the home side the victory, was, however, just short allowing Vigo to share the honours, which was perhaps poetic justice.
Vigo team: W.Millins; N.Miles, I.Horner, O.Jarman, J.Smith; D.Couchman (capt.), J.Knight; W.Castle, A.Edwards, R.Turvey; M.Grayland, J.Miles; N.Haigh, M.Higgs; D.Dunn
Dan Couchman (Skipper) We did really well considering the amount of experience at half back, those giants Mike Grayland and Josh Miles in the second row, and some pretty strange reffing decisions. We got hammered in the scrum, but my team never gave up.