Droitwich 2nd XV beat strong Alcester 1st XV
By Craig Browne
A cold and windy day met the 2nd XV on Saturday but the sun was shining brightly as they welcomed Alcester...
...a team who play their trade in Mids West (South 3) but had a free weekend and the Salt Boys gratefully accepted the challenge.
Some familiar faces returned for the home side with Jonny Lewis and Ali Jones coming in to 13 & 10 respectively after an extended period out.
The game started incredibly well for Spa with some slick handling after a Jamie Denby break lead to Jones feeding Tim Cave out wide who beat a couple of would-be defenders to open the scoring, adding to his impressive try tally this season. With a missed conversion it was 5-0.
This lulled the team into a false sense of security, and a poor warm up showed when Alcester hit back almost immediately with a soft unconverted score. Spa moved up the field after the kick off and got into a strong attacking position but some poor discipline gave up territory and Alcester crossed again for a try under the sticks, again unconverted. Quickly followed by another to go ahead 15-5. And it began to look a lot like one-way traffic for the rest of the game.
The nature of these scores and extended periods of defending led to a frustrated chat under the posts. Uncharacteristic errors, poor kicking and some poor kick chase kept giving up position so stern words were spoken and some heads that were down seemed to pick up. Some sterling work in the tight exchanges by the forwards like Craig Dixon-Goode, Nick Godfrey and Paul Reflex created space out wide for Denby popping up to feed Stu Lane who broke down the left and deftly offloaded to Andy Vizor to crash over to make the score 15-10 at half time.
Coach Cave changed tactics at half time, plan A hadn't quite worked for us so it was time for a move to plan B. Some changes made with Ben Skinner replacing veteran Kev Priddey and youngster Nathan Lynott coming into the 2nd row. Nick Godfrey laid the law down to the team making it clear the standard of performance up until that point had not been good enough.
With the wind behind them the second half started well, as Alcester began to tire they started to give away some penalties which gave away field position and an attacking platform to Spa. Some hard running from George Priddey and Skinner set up Jam Hillson to drive over from short range to level the scoring at 15-15. A classy conversion from Stu Lane gave the home side the lead.
The visitors weren't completely exhausted however with a strong carry from their No. 8 getting them over for another unconverted score to regain the lead at 20-17.
Some more changes rang for Spa, with Matt Wilkinson coming into Scrum Half and Charlie Chalmers moving out to the wing, and Sam Cave onto the other wing, with Priddey and Lane leaving the field.
It took some solid defending from skipper Craig Browne and talisman Stu Thomas to keep the opposition out, and after a turnover Harry Bradley and Jake Phillips, on after a serious injury to Lynott, carried well to get the team some go-forward. A good read of the field by Jones and Wilkinson sent the ball wide to the blind-side and Charlie Chalmers showed superb speed to get over and re-take the lead. Andy Vizor stepped up and slotted a conversion from out wide to extend the lead to 24-20.
Alcester then seemed to capitulate and the extra fitness work done in training paid dividends with more pressure being applied led to a powerful score from Sam Cave, younger brother of Try-Machine Tim. A missed conversion made it 29-20 at the final whistle to bring to a close a very satisfying win against tough opposition.
The best part about the victory was the ability to change up and execute a different game plan, and the willingness to throw bodies into the tackle against some big men to continue a so far successful season.
Droitwich 2nd XV
1. Craig Browne
2. Kev Priddey
3. Jam Hillson
4. Craig Dixon-Goode
5. Paul Stevens
6. Jamie Denby
7. Stu Thomas
8. Nick Godfrey
9. Charlie Chalmers
10. Ali Jones
11. George Priddey
12. Andy Vizor
13. Jonny Lewis
14. Tim Cave
15. Stu Lane
Reserves: Ben Skinner, Sam Cave, Matt Wilkinson, Dave Hill, Sam White, Jake Phillips, Nath Lynott, Harry Bradley