WELLINGTON 12 – KINGSBRIDGE 20
After the excellent performance the previous week the Chiefs came up against a resolute Kingsbridge outfit, coached by former assistant Taunton coach Nick Burnett, who executed their limited game plan to good effect to snuff out most of what the home side could throw at them.
The home side started at a furious pace but were repelled in the first five minutes and fell behind to what was to what to become the trademark move from the visitors, the catch and drive from lineouts close to the Wellington line from which all their tries came.
Prop Shane Hutchings score the first of these after fifteen minutes in the Clubhouse corner much to the disappointment of the usual large crowd in that area. With a surprisingly difficult swirling wind the conversion was missed on what was to turn out to be a largely unsuccessful day for the kickers from both sides.
They repeated the tactics ten minutes later this time on the other side the field this time with flanker Duncan Lilburn grounding for another five-pointer and quietening the home supporters further.
With changes of personnel the home side began to exert some pressure themselves and spent the last ten minutes threatening the visitor’s line and eventually got their reward when hooker Rob Mangham dived through for a try. Crucially full back Mark Nichols missed the conversion and a subsequent penalty against the difficult headwind, which would have levelled things at half time.
The Devonians continued their strategy of keeping things tight and pulled further in front when their third catch and drive could not be defended once more just a couple of minutes into the second half with Lilburn coming up with the ball for his second of the match.
However the Red and Blacks gathered themselves to put pressure on their visitors and took full advantage when a Kingsbridge forward was sin binned and Chris Kitto dropped onto the ball as it hit the line from the resulting elected scrum instead of the penalty. Nichols slotted the kick to reduce the arrears to just three points.
With the gap narrowed the Kingsbridge tempo increased and only some tremendous defence held the Seasiders at bay but they finally got their fourth bonus point try through lock Sean Woodland as they executed a similar ploy to their three previous scores.
With twelve minutes of extra time being added due to numerous stoppages, one of which saw the reliable Luke Brown come off with a calf injury, Wellington continued to look for at least a bonus losing point with another score but it wasn’t to be as Kingsbridge held them out to run down time to the final whistle.
– Ted Keble