2nd XV victorious in floodlit derby after super subs save the day.
By Craig Browne
It was a short trip to Weston’s Fields for the Salt Men on Friday night as a long awaited return Midlands Reserve League action came around.
Worcester 2nd XV 8 – 31 Droitwich 2nd XV
With perfect conditions for running rugby and a superb pitch had the entire squad excited for a derby fixture against rivals Worcester RFC.
There were a few changes to the usual line-up, Matt Barnes, Phil Shore and Steve Poke coming into the starting line up to bolster the ranks after some squad rotation for the 1st XV.
The game started at a frantic pace, Droitwich held Worcester back in their half for long periods but could not get over the whitewash. The typical offload game that has served them so well this season seemed to vanish as the big occasion seemed to get to the boys as more balls went to ground than to hand. Jam Hillson hit the line hard, Joey Roberts made several decisive runs into the defence but it held firm and frustrated the visitors. The big ‘don’t argue’ from Steve Poke was a particular highlight. The Spa scrum was totally dominant also which was a big help and this dominance was maintained throughout the game.
Worcester managed to make inroads in the Droitwich half, and won a penalty, which they converted to 3 points to take the lead. This sparked Spa into life and after some strong carries from Tom Richards, Nick Godfrey and the electric Paddy Barrow in midfield they found themselves camped on the Worcester 5m line. Matt Wilkinson fed Mike Craigie from the base of a ruck and he powered over to open the account, with Barnes converting to lead 7-3.
The home side managed a score of their own shortly before the half time whistle. Their fly-half, arguably their best player, managed to skip around the defence and put their winger into space to cross, unconverted to lead 8-7 at the break.
Stern words were spoken in the huddle from Coach Cave and veteran talisman Nick Godfrey to get the mindset of the team right again.
The half started better with pressure applied once again but nobody could get over the line. After 10 minutes the game remained at 8-7 and Andy Vizor was bought on at fly-half, and Ben Skinner into hooker.
The pressure and hard work for the home defence seemed to have tired them out as Spa worked down the field. A penalty was awarded and new recruit, utility player Louis Ellsmore, took a quick tap, threw a pass to Andy Vizor who managed to step a couple of defenders to dot down to regain the lead, with Barnes converting.
This got the wind up the 2nds as they worked their way down the field once again, a superbly crafted driving maul allowed Ben Skinner to drive over and extend the lead to 19-7.
The next score came from more powerful work in the forwards. Stu Thomas throwing his body into everything, James Dawson knocking defenders over for fun. Some great breaks from Tim Cave and George Priddey out wide managed to gain good field position for on-field captain Craigie to score again.
As the game drew to a close the 2nds were determined not to let up. We saw a series of hard carries again from Craig Browne and Phil Shore, who had been a thorn in Worcester’s side all game with some fantastic running from deep. Ben Smith got the ball in space and threw a superbly timed offload to the oncoming Andy Vizor who managed to break the line, sidestep two players and score a second try to close out the game to finish 31-7.
It was a fantastic occasion superbly hosted which all involved enjoyed. Playing under floodlights is a great experience and it will happen again this Friday (the 19th) as Woodrush come to Droitwich in more league action, kick off 7.30pm.