Firsts Win Entertaining Game Against Slough
By Ralph Smith
Wallingford recorded back to back wins for the first time in 2019 with a decent display against a determined Slough side
Wallingford welcomed Slough to the Hithercroft on a blustery day, as they looked to build on the narrow victory over Reading Abbey a fortnight prior.
In selection, they were without the in form Lawson Dallimore and Craig Irwin, but were able to welcome back vice-captain James Norris and Jack Thurston in the front row, whilst George Marffy replaced the absent Dan Sadler.
After a slow start that allowed Slough to make some early inroads, Wallingford found their feet and were the first to score. After a backs move put Ben Selwood in space on the left on half way, play was taken in to the visitors’ twenty two. With the ball moved right, Dave Baxter was hauled down just short of the try line, but from the ensuing ruck, Phil Dawes fired the ball to the bullocking Ed Searle who proved unstoppable from five yards.
With the host’s forwards running and offloading well, they continued to dominate the opening quarter, and after kicking a penalty to the corner, a well executed forwards move saw Ian Jeffreys crash over.
Slough, who boasted some strong runners, came back and scored a try of their own, albeit a soft one, as their scrum half somehow slipped through three tackles to score under the posts.
Frustrated with the nature of the score, Wallingford came back strongly, and had their third score before half time.
From a scrum inside the Slough twenty-two, Jeffreys broke right, before popping inside to the supporting Nathan Chapman who ran in unopposed.
In the second half, Wallingford’s forwards continued to dominate, and after a catch and drive was brought down illegally by the Slough pack, the referee awarded a penalty try.
Despite a yellow card for Phil Dawes for dissent, with Wallingford playing some excellent flowing rugby, the next score didn’t take long. After some strong carries, Jack Thurston offloaded excellently off the deck to Ian Jeffreys who touched down, before being consumed by the huge Slough prop’s Swan dive.
Wallingford’s final try came as sustained pressure created space on the right, and after Ben Selwood fed Lenford Eugene, he exploded past the would be tacklers to score in the corner. The conversion was missed by Jackson Sayce, the only miss of an excellent kicking display.
Credit to Slough, they never gave up, and earned two more tries in the last quarter, but the game was already up.
This was an entertaining game in front of a lubricated VP crowd. Both teams played some excellent attacking rugby, albeit defence at times was a bit weak.
For Wallingford, Baxter and Jeffreys were excellent, whilst in the backs Jackson Sayce managed the game well, but man of the match went to Ed Searle, who was a handful every time he carried, and was rewarded with his first try for the 1st XV.