On a sunny day which felt like the first day of spring, Wellington’s improved form continued against fifth-placed Burnham on Sea. It was not without its hiccoughs along the way, and watching this young side’s evolution is not for the faint hearted.
Kicking off up the hill into a surprisingly strong breeze Wellington applied the early pressure but were unable to turn this into points. Burnham when they did get the ball tried to move it wide to their speedy back three who always looked dangerous.
After twenty minutes Burnham managed to get outside the Wellington defence on the far wing and quick hands saw them go over for the opening score by Jordan Paull. He added the extras to his own try.
From the re-start Wellington looked fairly comfortable with the ball in midfield. They got turned over at a ruck, but when Burham went to the top side again, Wellington defenders outnumbered the Burnham attack. Wellington were however caught defending too narrow and once again the Burnham speedsters got to the outside, where eventually Beau Dickens dotted down wide out.
When Paull added the extras, Wellington were looking down the barrel. There is a growing maturity about this side however and they didn’t panic. The scrum, with Lee Waddon, Joe Dyke and the impressive Harry Tredwin in the front row getting the better of their counterparts proved a useful platform, and worked their way back into the Burnham twenty two. When a promising move was stopped by a deliberate knock down, the culprit saw yellow, and Matt Parsons was presented with the easiest of penalty kicks. His conversion of it was the last kick of the half, and Wellington went in 14 – 3 down.
Showing more discipline in the second half the penalty count against Wellington went right down which meant they were able to keep field position, in the visitors half. After 50 minutes Welly went through several phases of quick possession, and George Hooper took a lovely line on the inside shoulder of Parsons. He then out-sprinted the cover defence to score close to the posts. Parsons added the extras to put Wellington right back in it.
By now all the rugby was being played in Burham’s half. They tried to run the ball out of trouble but were smashed back time and again by Wellington’s aggressive defence.
When on 65 minutes Wellington were awarded a penalty it was kicked into clubhouse corner. Micky Norman rose high to take the ball which was quickly moved to the back of the maul to Liam Phillips, who had an outstanding match making many yards carrying. On this occasion he stayed latched onto the pack which drove Burnham back and Phillips was able to dive over for the try. The missed conversion meant it was going to be a really tight finish.
With three minutes left Wellington conceded a penalty in a very kickable position, which if converted would almost certainly have won the game for the visitors. The large crowd however drew a collective sigh of relief as it drifted wide. Burnham continued to throw caution to the wind in an attempt to regain the lead, but desperate scramble defence by the home side denied them the opportunity.
This win moves Chiefs up to 10th in the league with six games to play.
Match report: Mike Brewer