Droitwich keel-haul Longton 48-26
By andy maginnis
Droitwich kiln stoked with win over potters
Droitwich started Saturday’s fixture against their visitors from the Potteries, Longton, in a way that characterised the afternoon – counter-attacking rugby at pace. Longton’s first kick to the Salt Men’s back three was run straight back at them and only moments later, physically imposing inside centre, Matt Handford, crashed over the Longton whitewash after a mesmerising backs’ move with the afters being added by fly-half , Chris Hooper. Within five minutes Longton hit back with a smart backs move of their own, levelling the score at 7 all. The Droitwich forwards scrapped hard to gain the ascendency and full-back, Nat Maginnis, finished off a scintillating backs move out wide on the Longton flank. Just minutes later Droitwich were on the attack again and the referee awarded the hosts a penalty-try boosting their lead to 19 points to 7. Droitwich were on fire by now and characteristically sterling work from the forwards was matched by probably the Droitwich backs’ finest work of the season, with on-form winger, Ed Wormington, adding two more unconverted tries to the hosts’ tally. Half time saw a buoyant Droitwich 29-7 to the good.
Longton started the second half like a team possessed and within moments had scored a well-deserved try under the Droitwich sticks which was simply converted. This seemed to galvanise Droitwich who returned the compliment at the other end of the park with a rampant Phil Horton who had just come off the bench crashing over the Longton try line. Determined to keep the backs ahead of the fat boys on the score-sheet, elusive Droitwich wing, James Horrocks, and mesmerising outside centre, Dan Guest, kept the Droitwich side of the scoreboard ticking over, the extras being added by Maginnis.
To Longton’s credit they refused to lie-down and were justly rewarded with two converted tries of their own. The final score was 48-26 to a jubilant Droitwich.
Droitwich’s props Shewell, Martin and replacement, Tranter, bullied and carried magnificently all afternoon and young hooker, Ruben Staite, proved a handful for the visitors throughout with his athleticism. Behemoth Captain O’Brien, was unstoppable at 8 and ran through brick walls for the team while flankers Middleton and Roberts scrapped for everything and were equally effective in the loose. Second row veteran, Pete “Fagin” Knight picked-pockets all afternoon ably assisted by apprentice Nico “the Artful Dodger” Mason. Phil Horton was unleashed off the bench like a hungry lion and appeared to be fully back to form following a forced lay-off before Christmas. Half–backs Steve Poke at 9 and Chris Hooper at 10 were indefatigable and supplied the backs with quick quality ball for all 80 minutes. True to form, centres Handford and Guest smashed their way up the middle of the park, but they also worked well with Hooper to unleash the back three of Wormington, Maginnis and Horrocks whose ball-playing skills and composure under the high ball was exemplary. The only disappointment was that a returning Sean Walker suffered a groin strain and had to be promptly replaced as a precaution.
Director of Rugby, Adam Drew said:
“I would like to thank the players, coaches, physios, officials and supporters of both clubs for attending this afternoon’s fixture. Thanks also to the referee who managed the game with great authority. It was pleasing today to see some of our hard work in training paying off. As the old saying goes, the forwards determine who wins the game and the backs decide by how many. All too often in the past we have competed well up front and in midfield but failed to release our outside backs – this afternoon was different and it is a testament to our determined effort to play 15 man rugby that six of our tries today came from the backs with four of those coming from the back three. I was also pleased that the incremental scrum, line-out and restart improvements we have been working on were so effective. My only gripe this week would be that we switched off a little in the final 10 minutes and this is something the lads identified themselves as an area for improvement. We are looking forward to our next fixture which is at Spring Lane in a fortnight.”