Winscombe were the visitors to a soggy Athletic Ground last Saturday in what was a repeat of last season’s Somerset Vase final, writes Ally Chetland. The playing conditions between the two encounters were vastly different but the result was the same with The R&Bs running out worthy winners. Danny Lee returned to the starting XV after missing the previous week’s game through illness, replacing Tim Jenkinson, whilst Cam Venn made a welcome from numerous weeks’ on the side-lines with a leg injury taking the final spot on the bench.
Playing away from the clubhouse & with the elements in their favour in the 1st half The R&Bs started the match the better of the teams and were soon camped on Winscombes line. Following a series of quick rucks centre Vinny “Flash” Gordan popped up to crash over of the opening try of the match which was converted by Captain Patrick Jarman. The R&Bs went further ahead via try soon after when Full back George Hodgson showed some deft footballing skills to capitalise on a loose Winscombe pass, Jarman again converted for a 14-0 point lead. Winscombe came storming back and reduced the arrears via penalty after The R&Bs were penalised at ruck in front of their posts. This score was cancelled out when Jarman cooly slotted a penalty for The R&Bs after a fine attack was halted illegally. The visitors bounced back again and following a period of pressure again reduced the arrears via another penalty. Chris Kitto took the wind out of Winscombe’s sails when he powered over for a try following another series of rucks on Winscombes’ try line which was duly converted by Jarman to extend The R&Bs lead. Winscombe had their fair share or possession & territory throughout the half but could not break down The R&Bs resilient & well organised defence. The R&Bs went further ahead when winger Ash Harney scored a wonderful try, after excellent work by Liam Phillips, just before the halftime break to make the score 29-6.
Despite having the elements against them in the second period this did not deter The R&Bs attacking play and soon after the re-start Hodgson scored a sparkling individual try which went unconverted. With Winscombes’ heads now starting to drop and their bulky pack starting to tire Captain Jarman exploited a gap in the visitors defence to scamper over for a well taken try which he converted himself. The R&Bs were now well on top and following another excellent team attack winger Harney showed a clean pair of heels to the covering defence to cross for his 2nd try of the game, the extras could not be taken. Winscombe had no real answer to clinical style of play on display from The R&Bs and Hodgson crossed for his 3rd try of the match which was converted by replacement Alex Davey Not to be outdone Harney soon crossed for his 3rd try of the match which was also converted by Davey to make the final score 60-6 to The R&Bs.
The heavy rainfall during the week meant the pitch was again heavy under foot and not ideal conditions to play attacking open rugby but The R&Bs proved that they can play excellent rugby no matter what the conditions are against heavier opponents. Hat trick heroes Hodgson & Harney caught the eye but not far behind was Captain Jarman who had his best game of the season so far in what was an excellent win played in heavy conditions. The pack stuck to their tasks well against bulkier & heavier opponents with Liam Phillips, Jack Richards & Joe Dyke having fine games.
Next week The R&Bs travel to Bideford, a team they haven’t played for a number of seasons. The Devon side have struggled so far this season but The R&Bs must not take anything for granted, all away games are difficult, as they look to continue their winning ways.
Squad: J.Richards, J.Dyke, O.Price, R.Walker, C.Kitto, D.Lee, L.Phillips, M.Walker, D.Goldstone, P.Jarman(c), A.Harney, V.Gordon, C.Batts, N.Pitman, G.Hodgson, C.Venn, A.Davey, R.Marke