Firsts return to form with 8 try victory
By Ralph Smith
8 tries and a near flawless kicking display saw Wallingford rack up their biggest win of the season against Stow-on-the-Wold
After the disappointment of the previous weeks performance against Beaconsfield, Wallingford went into Saturdays game looking to make amends against Stow-on-the-Wold.
In selection, there were two changes as Sam Botting returned on the wing in place of the injured Pete McKinley and Max Suttner returned to the starting lineup for the absent Ralph Smith with James Springer taking his place on the bench.
Heavy rain all morning made the conditions difficult for both sides but Wallingford started strongly and never looked back throughout the game. The first try came after just 2 minutes as a penalty was kicked to the corner and a textbook catch and drive saw James Norris score, Jackson Sayce converting (7-0). This was quickly followed by a penalty from in front of the posts which Sayce again converted (10-0).
Stow came back into the game but Wallingford defended well against their forward dominated pick and drive game before securing a turnover and clearing their lines.
The home side were soon back on the attack and a loose clearance kick by Stow was fielded by Tom Swainston who danced through several tackles before feeding Ian Jeffreys to score under the posts, again converted by Sayce (17-0). With their tails up, Wallingford were looking like a completely different team to last week and the constant pressure on Stow saw them concede a number of penalties, one of which was in range for Sayce to convert (20-0).
The next score saw Sam Botting cross with his first touch of the ball as a great pass by Pete Holton put him in space, Sayce continuing his fine form with the boot to convert from out wide (27-0). Botting was again on the scoresheet toward the end of the first half, this time beating his man before crossing out wide, Sayce this time pushing the conversion wide (32-0) HT.
Going into the second half, Wallingford had already wrapped up the bonus point but knew they needed to maintain their workrate and not let Stow back into the game.
The first 10 minutes after half time were a pretty stodgy affair as both teams fell foul of the referees whistle, Stow more than Wallingford as a couple of yellow cards were handed out. From one of these penalties Wallingford kicked to the corner, secured the ball and James Norris broke through to score, Sayce converting (39-0).
Stow were not giving up however and as Wallingford conceded a couple of penalties, they eventually crossed to score, conversion missed (39-5).
Not willing to just see the game through, Wallingford got themselves back into their first half rhythm and again applied pressure to Stow as they began to tire. Swainston spotted a mismatch in defence and glided through before feeding Sayce to score and convert (46-5). This was followed by a score for captain Phil Dawes as Wallingford pressured the Stow line for a number of phases before Pete Holton fed Dawes to cross, Sayce converting from the touchline (53-5).
With the light fading, there was still time for Wallingford to cross once more with Botting this time avoiding his hat-trick jug by offloading to Dan Sadler to cross out wide, Sayce hitting the posts with the conversion from out wide (58-5). FT
From 1-17, everyone put in a performance and usually a near faultless day with the boot and a 23 point haul would be enough to claim the MOTM award but Sayce narrowly missed out to flanker Dave Baxter whose display in both attack and defence was excellent.
This was a much improved display by Wallingford but its important for them to carry this forward into their next game against high-fliers Thatcham.