Once again on Saturday Wellington lost a game they could so easily have won when they travelled to Cheltenham .
Early pressure by Wellington saw them camped deep in the Cheltenham twenty two, however they were unable to convert this into points and Cheltenham were able to work their way out of trouble and exert pressure of their own.
After fifteen minutes Wellington lost fly half Paddy Jarman to a leg injury after he get stuck at the bottom of a ruck close to the Wellington try line. A few moments later Cheltenham got the first score of the day, when they mauled the ball over, wide out. Full back Josh Herbert who had an excellent day kick off the tee converted from wide out.
It was not long before the hosts were back on the attack again, and when Wellington failed to take a couple of opportunities to clear their lines, Cheltenham managed to get the ball over the line, but were held up short.
The resulting five metre scrum saw fly half Sam Coles come on a hard line back towards the scrum, and evade a couple of tackles to score. The conversion saw Wellington go fourteen points behind.
Wellington were now able to put some phases together and a defensive kick from the home side found Tom Hawkings on halfway. He ran the ball back hard, and the defence seemed to open up before him, he skipped through a couple of tackles and dotted down under the posts. He converted his own try to make a much more respectable 14 – 7. On the stroke of half time, a penalty for offside on the Wellington ten metre line saw Herbert step up and stroke the ball over to give Cheltenham a 17 -7 half time lead.
The game at Wellington earlier in the season had seen Wellington reverse a 14 nil half time lead, so there was hope that the superior fitness of Welly’s young team would be a factor in the second half.
On fifty minutes Wellington pack gained good field position deep in the hosts half and when the ball was shipped to Will Brewer a little ‘Show and go’ saw him cruise in under the posts completely unopposed. Hawkings conversion made it a three point game.
As expected Wellington were finishing the stronger with hooker Joe Dyke hitting his jumpers and the tight five gaining the edge in the scrums. On sixty five minutes however a mix up at the base of a Wellington scrum saw the ball turned over and quickly moved wide for another seven pointer scored by Tom Lait and converted by Herbert.
Such is the spirt of this young side though they refused to lie down and come storming back. A line out was mauled from fifteen metres out over the try line, and prop Jack Woodland came up with the ball.
With time running out, a promising Welly attack was stopped illegally and the miscreant sent to the bin. With just enough time for a line out it was kicked into the home sides twenty two.
Again the line out was secured and was being walked at pace towards the hosts line. Jack Woodland had the ball at the back of a long maul, and Cheltenham had no choice but to collapse it four metres out, when a try seemed inevitable.
The vocal visiting supporters felt it should be a penalty try but the referee only awarded a penalty. With no time for a line out Wellington elected for a scrum. Unfortunately the ball got kicked through to home side and number 8 Charlie Daniell kicked the ball out to end proceedings.
Wellington 2nds 10 Old Sullians 7
As the score suggests this was a hard fought, close encounter. Captain Dave Turney told the team before the game that they had to stop fourth placed Old Sullians gaining momentum, and had to control the game. It appeared to have fallen on deaf ears when pretty much straight from the kick off, Wellington infringed at the breakdown to gift Sullians a penalty just outside the 22. This was narrowly missed, but almost immediately after, Welly gave away an identical penalty for trying to move a Sullians player lying on the wrong side of a ruck. The chance was again missed however, and this proved to be the wakeup call Wellington needed. From this moment the home team tightened their defence, and stifled all the visitors’ attacks.
Wellington managed to push Sullians back into their 22, where they camped for basically the rest of the 1st half. Only excellent defence and a couple of errors kept Wellington from opening their account. After 15 minutes however something had to give, and when Sullians killed an attack illegally their captain received a yellow card, and gifted Ricky Marke a penalty which he easily dispatched. Half time arrived with the score at 3-0.
In the second half Wellington, playing down the slope pushed hard straight from the kick off. After 5 minutes as Sullians tried to break out of their half, Alex Johnson skilfully timed an interception and ran in under the posts. Marke again converted to open up a 10-0 lead.
Wellington kept control of the game deep in the Old boys half, until 15 minutes before ‘No side’ when Wellingtons mammoth effort to control a team 4th in the league, started to take its toll. Despite all Wellys efforts,the visitors pushed back hard, pinning Wellington deep in their 22 for the rest of the game. Andrew Bellamy took a team yellow card in the process of trying to stop quick possession. Hard as they worked Welly could, not hold out due to the pressure, and Sullians scored from a series of pick and drives. The conversion made it a 3 point game.
As the game entered its final 2 minutes Sullians attacked yet again pushing Wellington back to within 5 metres of their own try line. Pride, stubbornness and using every last ounce of energy left in each player, saw Wellingtons defence hold firm, and it was Sullians who gave away a penalty in their frustration. Marke made no mistake in clearing the ball deep into touch to give Wellington possibly their hardest fought and most well deserved points of the season. The whole team deserve praise, every one of the squad gave everything they had, and did exactly what was demanded from them in controlling the game and playing on their terms. This was their fourth win on the bounce for the seconds, and augurs well for the rest of the season.
Match reports: Mike Brewer