|26th June 2017||9:52 AM||80'|
A contest between two sides in the top half of National Division 1 East Central was played in atrocious conditions on a pitch that was barely playable and with a ball that should have been sponsored by Lifebuoy. The players, almost immediately from the start, were covered in mud and barely identifiable. Both sides did well to complete the match in such conditions. The wet, muddy conditions meant that the game was error-ridden and although the referee tried to officiate with empathy, the contest deteriorated into a series of scrums resulting from the inevitable dropped passes.
The visitors opened the scoring after five minutes with a penalty after the Villagers were penalised for not releasing the ball after a tackle. The home side tried to play their usual style of running rugby, attempting to get the ball out to their wingers Jim Wiltshire and Nathan Williams, whilst the visitors known affectionately as the ‘Joes’ took a more pragmatic route and generally kicked for territory. Scrum-half Tom Davies tried to put tempo into the contest by taking a series of tap penalties, powerful carries by Tom Baister and Ryan Shallish got the Villagers to within a few metres of the visitors try line. The ‘Joes’ defence was sound and the home side had to be content with three points through a penalty converted by outside half Ben White after half an hour of the game. There was no further score during the half and the game slithered to a halftime score of three points apiece.
The home side returned after halftime clad in clean shirts and for a few minutes were recognisable, but were soon once again mud-beplastered. The pitch had deteriorated into a swamp-like surface and players were struggling to keep their grasp of the slippery ball. There was only to be one further score, after an hour of the match the Villagers were on a rare incursion into the Joes’territory, their chance appeared to have gone as gain the ball was lost forward in the tackle. The Joes won the resulting scrum but the home front row of Caleb Robinson, Tom Baister and Andrew O’Malia had ensured that the visitors scrum half had to collect the ball from a retreating scrum and was harried as he passed to his half back partner. The outside half had his clearance kick charged down by centre Ciaran Driscoll and the ball squirted towards the visitors tryline, second row Dan O’Donnell hacked the ball ahead , the covering Joes winger slipped when trying to fall on the ball and home centre Rhys Evans flopped on the ball to score the only try of the game.
The remainder of the contest saw the home side defend valiantly as the visitors from Cardiff pressed for a further score, back rowers Corey Imperato (Man of the Match) and Lewis Dunleavy along with Rhys Gambold from the second row again were to the fore in repelling these attacks.
The contest was concluded in the gathering gloom and the Villagers had gained a hard fought victory by 8 – 3 .