Droitwich First XV don't put up with any bull
By andy maginnis
Saltmen back to winning ways
Droitwich returned to winning ways on Saturday when they visited Belvedere Lane for a crucial encounter against local rivals Hereford. The Saltmen started well by going through the phases and mounting patient attacks in the Hereford 22. Despite the visitors coming close the hosts held firm and were rewarded with an unconverted try that kept them 5-nil ahead at half time.
By now the pitch had become somewhat heavy and the players were becoming hard to distinguish from one another. Handling conditions were very challenging and both sides inevitably committed a number of knock-ons. After some end-to-end play Droitwich managed to equalise when fly-half Hooper finished off a training paddock move from an attacking scrum and shortly afterwards wing James Horrocks capitalised on an interception to run from half way and dot down over the Hereford whitewash. Hooper’s conversion attempt struck the upright making the score 10-5 to Droitwich. Having already come close the hosts redoubled their efforts and were rewarded with a well-worked converted try to take the lead by 12 points to 10.
Droitwich were determined not to give up the ghost and battled their way to the Hereford try line were they were eventually rewarded by fly-half Hooper wriggling over the line like a walrus hauling himself onto a beach. A jubilant Hooper added the extras to give Droitwich a 17-12 lead with only 2 minutes left on the clock. We have been in this situation before only to throw the game away in the final moments, but this time the close-down strategy of retaining possession was executed well and Droitwich held on for a hard-fought victory.
Front row Shewell, Staite, Martin and replacement Tranter carried well throughout as did Captain O’Brien from 8, while flankers Middleton and Mason did some great work over the ball at the breakdown. Knight and Adams brought their usual gritty intensity to the second row and Roberts upped the intensity when he came off the bench in the second half. Skinner at 9 managed the pack well and gave good service to Hooper, Handford (12) and Guest (13) who were a constant attacking threat in midfield and offered a defensive wall that President Trump could only dream of. The back three of Ellsmore and Horrocks on the wings and Maginnis at 15 looked reliable under the high ball and cleared their lines well despite the ball being like a bar of soap.
Coach Blair Hunter said: “I’d like to thank Hereford’s players, coaches and officials for their hospitality, the referee and touchies for managing the game with authority and the supporters of both teams for turning out on a miserable winter afternoon. As coaches we were really pleased that some of our hard work on the training paddock on closing-out games and staying calm in the red zone is starting to pay off and I think our game management was good today; however, our lineout was somewhat erratic and is definitely a work-on this week in training.”