1st XV Report - Sat 19th April 2008 v Stewarts & Lloyds

Wellingborough 36 - 5 Stewarts & Lloyds

Champions Midlands 3 East (South)

Pictures courtesy of Steve Rideout: more at http://www.rideoutphoto.co.uk/champs


Wellingborough knew they needed to win and win well to clinch the League title and they came out all guns blazing in the first half. After the early exchanges it was looking likely that the backs would make the breakthrough and Chris Mears provided the first opportunity. On half way he collected a pass and slipped round a defender to move the ball to Joe Marston in a bit of space. Joe outpaced the first cover and stepped inside the rest to sprint in under the posts. Pete Vickers duly converted for the seven points.

Only a few minutes later Chris Mears was quickest to the tackle causing the S & L player to concede the ball and from the turnover it was recycled along the line in the opposite direction for Dominic Smart to round his winger and go in for the try.  Wellingborough were on fire now and a few minutes later Kyle Danns fielded a ball deep in his own half and set up a ruck from which quick ball was released to the backs and this time Dominic Smart went in from some distance unopposed under the posts.

The home forwards were getting the better of the visitors in the rucks and mauls, producing quick ball as often as they could.  S & L tried to spoil this with some "old fashioned" borderline tactics leading to some frustration but Wellingborough whisked the ball away where possible.  In one of these phases Joe Marston made excellent ground only to be stopped by the "double team" that was marking him now.  The ball was recycled and went swiftly to Steven Gall who chipped over the defence and collected the ball himself to go in under the posts.  Pete Vickers' conversion brought the score to 26 - 0.  Joe Marston had taken a knock during this and despite treatment and a brave effort to carry on he was replaced by Peter Gilbey just before half time.

Frantic 'phone calls at half time revealed that Leighton Buzzard were only 13 - 3 up against Towcester so Wellingborough were leading the league on points difference but only just.  This didn't seem to matter as they started the 2nd half as they had the first.  After 5 minutes Craig Hughes made a good break in the centre which led to a penalty on the S & L 22.  Wellingborough chose to take a scrummage and promptly fed Steven Gall who stepped his opposite number to score under the posts.  The conversion took the score to 33 - 0 and the next phase of play could have taken it to 40 but the final pass on the end of a superb sweeping movement up the field was not great and despite yards of juggling it went down.

We were now 20 minutes into the 2nd half and S & L were determined to slow the scoring rate down. They had no answer to Nick Murphy's supremacy in the line out and contribution around the field.  He was taking severe physical punishment in close quarters however and this finally led to Kelvin Todd taking the law into his own hands, receiving a red card for his trouble.  This changed the nature of the game and Wellingborough made more replacements to compensate.  Peter Vickers kicked a good penalty to stretch the lead to 36 - 0 but Wellingborough had to dig deep to defend this as S & L gained territorial advantage.  Eventually the greater numbers told and Wellingborough conceded an unconverted try from a scrummage and subsequent maul close to their line.

As the closing minutes ticked by, S & L tried to repeat the same move only to be held up over the line. The news came through that Leighton Buzzard had beaten Towcester by 20 - 3.  If Wellingborough could just hold out they would be champions!  S & L knew they had to score a try to spoil the party but Wellingborough's defence held firm to the final whistle.  It was a few moments before the information was relayed to the players but on confirmation they were delighted.

Croyland Car Megastore Man of the Match: Nick Murphy

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