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Home > News > Witney 20 - Swanage & Wareham 20
Your News Witney 20 - Swanage & Wareham 20

Hooker Sam Collins was the hero as he crashed over in the final move of the

match to level the scores in a tight match. Ed Mitcham€™s conversion narrowly

missed but in truth, it would have been hard luck on either side to have lost an

entertaining match at the Hailey Road Ground.

The visitors started with the elements and good early pressure saw them awarded

an early penalty which was slotted nicely for a three point advantage. The set

piece last week saw Witney dominate the scrums but from the off these two packs

of forwards showed themselves to be very evenly matched and if anything it was

the visitors who gained the upper hand as they got a couple against the head

during the match. The lineouts were also edged by Swanage and Witney really

struggled to win much possession in the opening exchanges. Their discipline was

good though and a couple of promising Swanage attacks came to nothing. So when

their forwards gathered the ball 30 metres out there was little reason to panic.

However the visiting forwards grouped and drove very slowly to metre by metre

towards the Witney line. Their control was very impressive and they just kept on

coming and despite Witney throwing their all into stopping it, the inevitable

happened and they flopped over for a try. The conversion made it 10 points down

for Witney and they needed to respond and quickly.

The forwards had one nice drive themselves and they started to win some ball and

build through some phases. The crucial impetus came from Joe Rowles who drove

into the heart of the Swanage defence like a knife through butter. With the

defence concentrating on halting Rowles, the ball was spun out wide and winger

Jake Thomas showed some good pace and a great deal of determination to drive

over the remaining defender for a super score. Despite Mitcham€™s missed

conversion, Witney were back in the game and the Hailey Road Ground began to be

a bit more vocal.

The Swanage pack remained lively, winning more possession and making the most of

the elements. They built some pressure and their threequarters injected some

real pace when it mattered but Witney seemed to have enough numbers out wide but

the Swanage full back showed some astute lines of running before releasing their

winger who dived over. It was another well taken try and Swanage were deservedly

in the lead. Witney rallied and with the Campbell brothers leading the way

alongside Owen Fowler, slowly some more phases started to be put together. There

were knock on€™s at crucial times and clear cut chances were few and far between

for both sides as defence generally was on top of offence.

The interval came and despite being 5 -15 down, it was still all to play for.

Witney€™s stand in skipper, Jez Hicks rallied his troops and they started to gain

the upper hand and suddenly the Swanage visitors started to show some gaps. All

the forwards started hitting the line with real purpose and the threequarters

started looking more dangerous too with the strings being pulled by Henry Lamb.

After a purposeful build up with crucial bursts from Owen Fowler and Joe Rowles,

winger Jake Thomas was released and he unselfishly passed back inside to Ed

Mitcham for a cracking try, which the scorer converted himself. A Henry Lamb

kick found open spaces and looked to be bouncing favourably for the onrushing

Jake Thomas but just evaded him and another half chance was gone. A Mitcham

penalty narrowly missed and the Hailey Road crowd became expectant. Swanage

started to look like they were waiting for defeat but they rallied and started

to edge back into Witney territory. At one stage, the visiting side must have

put 20 phases together but Witneys defence was solid and eventually a mistake

happened and all the players seemed relieved for a breather. The initiative was

back with the visitors and they knew this was their opportunity. Their forwards

pressed and again showed great control and patience to score out wide and

increase their lead, meaning Witney had to score twice.

The second half had become riddled with stoppages as the Swanage side started to

feel the effects of this committed encounter but Witney knew this and knew they

still had time to come back and gain something from the match. A visitors

replacement came on and gave away a penalty which Mitcham converted and took

Witney within five points but time was running out. Witney pressed again and

with the time ticking away, Gareth Campbell released Sam Collins on the blind

side and right on the 22 metre line. Collins showed good pace for a front rower

and managed to run through the full back on the line and ground the ball. The

conversion went wide but the match was saved and both sides could feel happy

with their efforts of the afternoon. Three tries each and total commitment but

Witney probably felt more relieved than the visitors as they had been behind for

the whole match.

Next week it€™s a visit into the unknown against Oakmedians.

1st XV

Mitcham, Thomas, Harper, Strutt, Monks, Lamb(H), Campbell(G): Fuller, Collins

(S), Richens, Fowler, Bennett, *Hicks(J), Campbell(C), Rowles

Repl: Muller(Bennett-60), Burke(Richens-65), Douglas -not used


The boys met their match up front and the scoreline nicely reflects the

similarity of the sides, neither of whom deserved to go away as the defeated

side. The pack worked hard and Gareth Campbell and Henry Lamb had plenty of

willing runners to make the hard yards all afternoon. The backs did some good

things and some not so good with young Jake Thomas having a really strong match

in both defence and attack. The teams defence was solid too and no surprises

that Carl Campbell was at the heart of that effort with one tackle leaving the

visitors number eight in need of some air! The boys and the Hailey Road faithful

were relieved as Sam crashed over (taking his chance very well!) but Ed€™s

conversion, had it gone over would have been tough on the visitors and their

excellent travelling support. There will be better afternoons in weeks to come

but there will also be worse and the spoils shared was about right.

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