Last-gasp stunner saves the day for Spa
By Craig Browne
The 2nd XV travelled to Evesham on Saturday and anticipated a mud bath and high winds, whilst the latter was the case, the pitch itself was in fantastic condition and it made the game shape up as an exciting prospect.
Evesham 2nds 17 – 22 Droitwich 2nds
With the 1st XV called off, a number of that squad made the effort to travel so there was a good crowd supporting on the sidelines too.
Evesham had put out a strong side, they began the game with incredible physicality and direct running to test the visiting defence. It held firm with the likes of Tom Richards and Stu Thomas tackling for their lives it seemed. After the first period remained scoreless, a line break by Andy Vizor set up some good attacking field position for Droitwich but could not convert. Ill-discipline cost them from this position with a number of successive penalties giving the home side an attacking 5m line out, which they successfully drove over and converted to take the lead 7-0.
The Spa scrum was utterly dominant all day, despite giving up several kilos a man to the opposition. The front row of Jam Hillson, Joey Roberts and Ian ‘Conda’ Turner were superb, and they were well supplemented by skipper Craig Browne off the bench. It proved a reliable source of possession and set up a good attack in the opponent’s 22. After a few quick phases and strong carries from James Dawson, Phil Shore managed to glide past the covering defence out wide to score and open the Droitwich account. Unconverted, the score was 7-5.
A strong reponse from the home side followed, more direct running and Spa ill-discipline allowed them to work down-field and eventually they broke the line to score under the posts to lead 14-5.
The scoreline was a fair reflection at half time of how the game had gone, too many loose passes from the back division had been letting down the forward pack that had been putting in the foundations and needed to tighten up.
The second half began well for the men in Black & Gold with some direct running from centre Paddy Barrow, Joey Roberts, Nick Godfrey at number 8 and the versatile Ben Smith in the second row setting up a platform that allowed Tim Cave in out wide to score to bring the game closer at 14-10. Shortly after the kick-off a penalty was awarded however, allowing Evesham to extend the lead to 17-10.
With 15 minutes to go Matt Wilkinson and Louis Ellsmore were controlling the game and combining well in the half-backs, the superior fitness of the Droitwich team started to tell, and a forwards score from a pushover scrum (credited to Nick Godfrey), converted by Ellsmore, drew proceedings level 17-17.
In the most dramatic of circumstances, a clearance kick from the hefty boot of Ellsmore was collected by the opposition winger. He then kicked it open and into the hands Ian Turner, who deftly offloaded to the lightening Phil Shore, who jinked, stepped and sprinted into the corner to seal the win in the last play.
An stern and much needed test for Spa with more and more of the lads pushing for 1st XV honours with strong individual performances. Next week will be much of the the same, away against local rivals Chaddesley Corbett 1st XV.