One of the newest clubs in Kent arrived at Swanswood but were rather undone by Vigo’s forward power. But this is a young side, and will have learnt much,and showed distinct promise. In the end, the old hands in the Vigo team had too much experience and were more comfortable winners than the score-line suggests.
Cliffe had first use of the slight, but significant slope, and used it well, moving the ball nicely along their backs. Vigo aided and abetted with a tendency to carry the ball on just that extra yard, when quicker transfer of ball might have reaped greater reward. Their pack, much heavier and more experienced, enjoyed almost total domination all through the game, and actually reined themselves in at times for fear of inflicting injury on their younger opponents. But Vigo failed really to turn that domination into points. Their handling was at times fallible on a drizzly sort of day. In fact, both sides had a spot of trouble holding onto the ball, but at last Cliffe managed to string together a series of decent passes along their back division to work Curtis Chaplin over the line. Stewart Valentine converted, to give Cliffe the lead on the stroke of half time.
Now, for the second period, Vigo had use of the slope, and they had the know-how, the experience to use it. Darren Cox, Dan Couchman, Nick Haigh and, eventually, Dave Dunn, who came off the bench for a superb cameo, drove forward. The scrummage, by now totally in control of the game. Vigo took the narrow route, constantly driving forward, confident in the knowledge that whenever they had a scrum, they would take possession of the ball, whoever had the put in. Indeed, they were soon on the scoreboard. Jeff Miles rumbled forward, almost making the line for his first try in colour (apparently) but some courageous defence stopped the popular prop. Darren Cox took over and finished off from a few metres.
With the bit between their collective teeth, Vigo attacked, but continued to pose themselves problems, either with an inopportune handling error or wrong option. Cliffe were living off scraps but still ensured that Vigo would have to stay alert in defence. Indeed, they all but scored in the corner after a swift counter attack, only to drop the ball in crossing the line, allowing Vigo off the hook. Again Cliffe nearly scored only to be held up over the line. Vigo won the resulting scrum and were able to comfortably clear their lines. They were soon attacking Cliffe’s line, and this time made no mistake. A five metre scrum, Vigo rumbling forward, the vastly experienced Couchman controlling the ball, try scored, a scenario all too familiar.
Now Vigo had their noses in front and were in no mood to relinquish control. All credit to Cliffe, who strove hard to turn the tide, Luke Hambleton especially shining in the gathering twilight, but Vigo were not to be denied. Vigo forced another five metre scrum, Couchman did the rest. Try. Conversion by Ollie Jarman, game over. A much needed boost to Vigo morale.
Vigo team: W.Millins; L.Pitchell, O.Jarman, R.Lancaster, N.Miles; L.Whatman, B.Paget; Jeff Miles, J.Smith, H.Newby; D.Cox, M.Lingham; N.Haigh, M.Gregory; D.Couchman
Replacements( all used) M.Grayland, D.Dunn, G.Luck
Star Man: Dave Dunn (Vigo)