Firsts Win Soggy Encounter At Gosford All Blacks
By Ralph Smith
Wallingford secured a comfortable victory against Gosford All Blacks on a heavy pitch, but just missed out on a try bonus point.
Wallingford travelled to North Oxford for a county derby against Gosford All Blacks, after the pitch had been deemed playable after some heavy rain in the lead up to the match.
In selection, Dan Sadler, Nathan Chapman and Dave Baxter joined Carl Tappin, Jackson Sayce and Joe Drew in the list of unavailable regulars, but they were able to welcome back Tom Swainston
following the birth of his first child, whilst Harry Lewis
played a rare game for the Club on the flank.
GAB started the brighter of the two teams, as Wallingford made a sloppy start, and only some fine last ditch tackles prevented an early score for the home side. With Wallingford struggling to clear their lines and penalties going against them, GAB kicked to the corner on several occasions to launch their catch and drive, but strong defence from the Wallingford pack defence resisted.
After a hectic opening 20 minutes in which the hosts dominated possession, the visitors began to work their way back into the game. With GAB starting to flag after a strong start, Wallingford's big ball carriers started to make inroads, with John Hayden
making lots of yards, but in difficult conditions, they struggled to convert their chances.
The first score finally went to the hosts, as Phil Dawes
converted a penalty from thirty meters out, before doubling the lead with a much simpler chance that clipped the post on the way through.
With the half nearing an end, the crucial first try went to the visitors. From a scrum in their own twenty two, the enigmatic GAB fly-half went for an ambitious cross-field kick to the right, but Max Suttner
read the kick and fielded the ball on the bounce, before beating two would be tacklers to score his first try for the 1st XV. With Dawes's conversion the half ended 13-0 to Wallingford.
With Wallingford in the ascendancy, they dominated the next half hour, with the pack, spearheaded by the likes of Hayden, Lewis, Jeffreys and Greenway, carrying plenty of yards into the GAB defence.
The next try went to Harry Lewis
, as he hit a good hard line and sliced through the GAB defence for an unconverted score.
With the set-piece dominant, with Jack Thurston
and Jack Greenway
forming a strong partnership with James Norris
in the front row, the next try came from the base of a powerful scrum, with Jack Edwards
sniping over from ten meters for his first try for the 1st XV.
The final quarter saw GAB pick up a consolation try from their scrum half, before Wallingford pushed for the bonus point fourth try. But determined GAB defence and indiscipline cost Wallingford, as they wasted several good opportunities and the game ended 25-5 to Wallingford.
This was a good performance in tough conditions, especially considering the absences. Wallingford's defence was excellent across the park, and the forward's dominance paved the way for an attritional win.
Their were fine performances all over the park, with Swainston back pulling the strings at 10, and Tom Hill
excellent in the loose, but Man of the Match went yet again to Jeffreys, whose ball carrying was a thorn in the opposition's side all game.