Wellington 12 – Burnham-on-Sea 29 League leaders Burnham came to the Athletic Field unbeaten in the division so far and went away with that record unscathed in what was a much improved performance by the home side from the previous week despite the fact they were beaten at home for the first time this season.
The match was preceded by a minutes silence in memory of Somerset RFU President and Old Sulians stalwart David Smith who was died as a result of a car accident in Worcester the previous Saturday.
It became obvious fairly quickly that the visitors pack were a force to be reckoned with as they fought for domination although Wellington did not give way easily they were unable to exert much control early on. Beyond this area of play there was not much to choose between the backs although the Seasiders at first showed abundant confidence when in possession but never managed to break through.
Burnham opened the scoring with two penalties in the first fifteen minutes through fly half Tim Piper as errors were forced out of the home side who nevertheless enjoyed a good degree of territory without really looking capable of capitalising.
A rare home penalty was missed from distance and the visitors pushed further ahead with a Piper drop goal from the Burnham response.
The Chiefs were dealt a big blow when prop Craig Shore was forced to retire from the field with suspected concussion, adding to the home side’s ever growing injury concerns.
The visitors then got their game really going with a rolling maul from some distance following a lineout and number eight Stuart Blake grounded for the try just at the end of the half which was also converted by Piper.
He added a further penalty shortly after the restart after a sharp break out behind was only just stopped.
Finally the Red and Blacks began to gain some traction and ask more effective questions of their opponents. Ali Taylor’s persistence was rewarded after getting into a good position and recovering from being knocked over in possession but not being held to just make the line for an unconverted try to open the home side’s account.
This was swiftly countered however as over-ambitious handling by the home side saw the ball go to ground and be hoofed through by the predatory Burnham backs. Centre Tom Chaffey won the chase to the kindly bouncing ball to collect and gratefully drop over the line with the conversion bouncing back off the crossbar.
Wellington returned to the attack and after several attempts to reduce the arrears were successful through hooker John Hendy finishing off a driving maul. Paddy Dean slotted the conversion but the side were still twelve points behind with time beginning to run out.
More attempts to get back on terms were just held out by the visitors, who looked like they were content to soak up the pressure and hang on for the win, providing little ambitious intent in the final minutes until another Wellington handling error gave them the chance to again clear the ball long. They were unable to convert the opportunity at the first attempt but were given a second go at it as the home defence decided to try and run the ball from their own twenty two and were inevitably swallowed up by the chasing backs resulting in a scrum.
The visitors were not going to be denied and won the set piece to set up another driving maul with second row Alan House going over for the final score.
By their own admission the Burnham side were happy to just come for the win and not worry too much about the performance and that is just what they achieved to keep themselves at the top of the table to the delight of their numerous supporters.
Match report: courtesy of Nick Robins