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Home > News > Swindon 12 - Witney 29
Your News Swindon 12 - Witney 29

Witney had already tasted defeat at Swindon this season and they knew they

would have to perform very well to avoid another loss as Swindon were in a

rich vein of form after racking up 96 points the previous week. Witney were

not on the top of the League for nothing though and were showing decent form

too and so on a fine afternoon for rugby, the healthy crowd were hopeful of a

thrilling encounter. While it was never a classic (due to a lot of whistle

blowing) it was a very physical match and Witney showed better discipline

than the home side and made their pressure tell so thoroughly deserved the

two points.

The match started with Swindon in confident mood and they pressed Witneys

line early on but the defence was excellent and crucially when Swindon had

their first lineout deep in Witneys 22 the throw went astray and this was a

regular pattern to the match as their experienced hooker was €œoff radar€

nearly the whole of the match. Witney€™s lineout was functioning well though

with Sam Collins picking out Jez Hicks, Charlie Bennett and Carl Campbell

with regularity and the ascendancy in this area was crucial.

The early Swindon pressure counted for nothing but Witneys first dip into the

opposition €œkilling zone€ saw a penalty given away and Ed Mitchem stepped up

from full back and slotted the three points. This was soon to be increased as

Witney crossed the line soon after. A storming run from James Monks almost

saw a score but Swindon held on but not for long. Skipper James Lamb made a

telling break through the middle and he linked to the returning Aaron Tustin

who scampered over for a fine score, Mitchem converting. While Henry Lamb was

kicking intelligently and gaining ground, Swindon seemed intent to run

everything and found that the Witney defence was a tad more miserly than

Bicesters had been the week before. Witney almost scored again when gppd

hands from Gareth Campbell set up a great break down the blind side for

skipper James Lamb who ran 50 metres before being tackled, he passed inside

to James Monks who was set for a run when they had to come back for a Witney

penalty, the advantage would have been nice!

Big Joe Rowles was having a fine match with some hard yards being made as

well as some solid tackles and the bulky Swindon pack started to blow harder

as the half went on. The match started to get a bit stop-start as the whistle

was sounded regularly for a variety of offences, some of which left players

on both sides a little puzzled. Witney seemed the more likely to score next

and it came from a searing break from Henry Lamb who showed his old wingers

pace to jink past the Swindon defence and scorch over for a superb individual

try, Mitchem again converting from wide out.

Swindon had time for one last attack as the half came to an end and as their

forwards drove into Witneys 22, flanker Jez Hicks was penalised in the maul

and was yellow carded (a bit unfairly to be honest). From the last play of

the half Swindon managed to cross the line and this gave them the lifeline

they needed, the match was certainly far from over.

The opening ten minutes of the second half were going to be crucial and so it

proved. Not only did Swindon fail to score any further points with their

numerical advantage, they also gave away a penalty which Mitchem slotted and

had their hooker sin binned for a high tackle (also a bit unfair) on Gareth

Campbell. Witneys pack also put in one monumental scrum to demolish the

Swindon forwards and psychologically this was a big moment too. Swindon came

back well when both sin binned players returned and their impressive centre

sliced through Witneys defence to score a fine try. Instead of bringing

Swindon up a level, their match drifted away for the remaining 25 minutes and

their discipline began to creek with some high tackles and over zelous

rucking becoming more of a feature as their frustrations with some of the

decisions started to show.

The rest of the half followed a similar pattern with Witney showing more

control and using their possession well while Swindon became more ragged and

chose a few wrong options at crucial times. Mitchem added a couple more

penalties to make the match safe and when Swindon lost a player to the bin

after some old style all black €œrucking€, the result was inevitable and

another Mitchem penalty sealed a fine two points for Witney and kept up their

battle with Amersham and Chiltern at the top of the table.

Next week its back to Cup Action with the County Semi Final against

Wallingford at the Hailey Road Ground on Sunday.

1st XV

Mitchem, Monks, *Lamb(J), Tustin, Collins(L), Lamb(H), Campbell(G) : Burke,

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

Repl: Serle, MacBurnie(Rowles-55), Taafe


This was a banana skin waiting to be slipped on with Swindon in great form

and having already knocked Witney out of the Intermediate Cup, they were

confident of doing likewise in the League. The boys had other ideas though

and showed great control and were very committed around the park. Big units

like Joe, Buckie and Owen worked their socks off and the Campbell boys

tackled everything that moved. The lineouts were crucial and Swindons

headache in that area saw them run some penalties they should have been

punting down the line. The scrummage was also very solid for Witney and that

one shunt in the second half was a joy to watch and lifted the visiting

supporters. Nice to see Aaron score on his return and a fine individual try

from Henry too. Not a classic match in terms of open rugby but there was some

good moments from both sides and nobody could question the physicality of the

encounter. A good workout then and while the lads will still need to raise

the bar for the weeks ahead, two points over at Swindon is always very

welcome and always hard earned.

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