In front of a bumper record crowd The Red & Blacks welcomed old rivals Wiveliscombe to The Athletic Ground in the annual Boxing Day derby match, writes Allyn Chetland. Both teams are doing well in their respective leagues so this always had the potential to be a highly competitive & exciting encounter. The rain in preceding week, & days before the fixture, put the game in doubt but the weather relented and crowd witnessed a whole hearted affair & high paced game despite the heavy conditions under foot.
The visitors won the toss & chose to play away from the clubhouse in the first half. It was nip & tuck for the 1st ten minutes of the half with each side testing each other out. The deadlock was broken when The Red & Blacks Marauding No.8, Cam Venn, was on the end of a fine attacking move to score the opening try of the game which was duly converted by Captain Patrick Jarman. Wivey came storming back using their chunky forwards well. These efforts were rewarded when George Rowe crossed for an unconverted try following a series of attacking scrums to make the score 7-5. Wivey briefly took a 7-8 lead when Rowe calmly kicked a penalty after The Red & Blacks were caught off side in front of their posts. However, this lead was short lived when The Red & Blacks winger Ash Harney benefited from a deft & accurate cross field kick from Jarman to score an unconverted try following a superb attacking move to retake the lead. As the half drew to a close Wivey started to tire & found it difficult to contain The Red & Black attacks. Following one such attack Wivey were caught offside in front of their posts, the resulting penalty was coolly slotted between the posts by Jarman to give The Red & Blacks a 15-8 advantage going into the half time break.
Playing with the slope in their favour Wivey started the second half well & looked to exploit their heavy scrum to their advantage. However this was not to be & The Red & Blacks weathered this brief storm with Liam Phillips to the fore. As the half progressed Wivey continued to tire & they again began to struggle with the pace & continuity on display from the hosts & were blown away in a clinical 15 minute period when the The Red & Blacks scored 3 superb tries. Centre Chris Batts crossed for an unconverted try following an excellent handling move involving numerous of his team mates. With their tails now well & truly up The Red & Blacks went straight back onto the attack, following numerous rucks & showing great composure camped on Wivey’s line hooker Joe Dyke powered over for a try which was converted by Jarman to take the score out to 27 – 8.
The Red & Blacks were not finished yet & following another attack that looked like it was on the verge of breaking down just inside Wivey’s. The move was revived by impressive replacement Sandy Kiddle, as a result his fellow replacement winger Tyler Hart beat the covering defence to score an unconverted try wide out to make the score 32-8 to The Red & Blacks. With 10 minutes of the match remaining Wivey eventually exploited their advantage at the scrum, ex- Wellington player Dan Smythe-Moore getting the final touch with Rowe converting to make the score 32-15. The Red & Blacks responded with more well organised attacks but despite these efforts no further scores ensued – final score 32-15 in what was a well thoroughly deserved win for The Red & Blacks.
An excellent win against the old rivals for The Red & Blacks with the whole squad contributing to a fantastic attacking performance. Difficult to pick individuals out, however, No.8 Cam Venn came in for particular praise by the home faithful in the club house afterwards.
The Red & Blacks next game is away to Falmouth on the 5th Jan – the longest trip of the season. Away trips are never easy and coupled with Falmouth being a decent outfit this is sure to be a stern task & a test of character for The R&Bs.
Squad; Richards, Dyke, Marke, Walker R, Walker M, Kitto, Phillips, Venn, Hancock, Bellamy, Kiddle, Hinchcliffe, Goldstone, Jarman (c), Pitman, Gordon, Batts, Harney, Hodgson, Hart, Davey & Jenkinson