Whitehall entertained Southmead on Saturday, looking to overturn their biggest defeat of the season.
Playing on the 1st team pitch for the first time since Dec 30th, Whitehall were hoping to play a wide expansive game. Unfortunately due to heavy rain on Friday night, the pitch was extremely heavy, so open rugby was difficult but both sides attempted to play in what ended up a hard fought game.
Whitehall started the stronger with the pack gaining the upper hand, and Whitehall’s 17 & 18 year old wingers looking dangerous when put into space.
Whitehall were well on top with possession and territory. But after a fluent move in the Meads 22 broke down the ball was fly hacked down the pitch, but with Whitehall’s skipper and fullback Dean Weaver, and left winger Ashton Pullin involved in the move, there was no cover. The Southmead player picked the ball up and was clear, a great last grasp covering tackle form 18 year old opposite wing Jake Hollis, nearly saved the try but made sure it was scored out wide to make the conversion very difficult, and saved his side 2 points.
Whitehall continued to pressurize the Mead scrum, and it was from a Southmead put in 5 meters from their own line that Whitehall’s powerful front five turned the screw, the Mead scrum half was under pressure, and Whitehall’s 18 year old scrum half Sam Millard reacted quicker than his opposite number, to steel the ball and sneak over the line for his first 1st team try. The try was converted by Sam Pearcey.
The Mead scored next when a scrappy Whitehall scrum allowed the ball to squirt out, and the ball was again hacked forward and picked up for a Southmead try in the corner.
Whitehall responded quickly, and pressurised the Mead line. Southmead cleared the ball to Jake Hollis who looked to have misjudged his catch, the ball bounced before he collected it, the 2 Mead chasers had committed to the tackle, but Jake glided round them and beat 2 more defenders to score in the corner. Conversion missed.
Southmead had the last laugh in the first half, and scored after pressure near the posts which was converted.
Half time Whitehall 12-17 Southmead
Whitehall had the better of possession, and looked the more likely to score, but we knew a feisty Southmead side were going to be very difficult to beat.
The second half saw the introduction of James Trent-Kerr for the injured Richard Court. Trent as always makes his presence made immediately with strong running lines, big hits, and tireless work at the breakdown.
Whitehall’s rolling maul started to have an effect on the game. A penalty was awarded for an offence at the ruck, which resulted in a yellow card for persistent offending. A kick to the corner resulted in a clean catch and controlled drive which saw Trent go over the line.
A good conversion from Sam Pearcey made the score Whitehall 19-17 Southmead.
It wasn’t long before Whitehall worked their way up to the mead 22 again; another lineout resulted in a similar outcome, this time Carl Watkins scoring the try, again a good conversion from Pearcey Whitehall 26-17 Southmead.
Southmead were now back to full strength with 20mins remaining.
After a skirmish Whitehall centre Tom Price received a yellow card with 15min to go.
This fired Southmead up, and after some strong carrying and aggressive rucking A Southmead forward broke free, another great attempt by Sam Millard at a covering tackle kept the try to the corner which again saved his side 2 points from the conversion meaning South mead need a try to take the lead.
Whitehall regained their composure, and forced a penalty just inside the Southmead 10 meter line. Pearcey again stroked the ball over to give Whitehall a 7 point advantage with 5 minutes to go. Price returned to the action, and Whitehall closed out a good hard fought victory.
Whitehall 29-22 Southmead
A good day for the young Whitehall side to turn over our biggest defeat of the season.
Ashton Pullin, Jake Hollis and Sam Millard all defied their young years to play very well. The ever green Badger played to his normal very high standards. Trent made a big impact off the bench to win the MOM award, but it was another very good squad performance, with every one playing for their mates and their club.
Fizzy seemed very excited at the end, it was either the win or the breaking news that the downstairs bar will again be open and renamed from the “Brassiere La Clique”
To “Papa Tony's bar & diner” for next weeks pre stag social.
Well done boys, you are growing into a strong side, with a good balance of youth and experience, who want to play for Whitehall RFC J