2nds battle hard for draw
By Jimmy Rees
2019 started off with a draw at Folly Lane in a strongly contested match.
Warminster 2nd XV played host to local rivals Melksham 3rds in their first league fixture of 2019. In a scrappy affair, although Warminster edged the performance stakes on the pitch, the spoils were shared on the scoreboard, 17-17.
It was the amber and blues who got out of the blocks first with new boy Dave Flak feeding a well timed inside ball to fellow debutant Jon Edis, who wrong-footed his way past three or four defenders to cross the whitewash close to the posts. skipper Scott Blaszkiw stepped up to ad the extras. 7-0 Warminster.
A bitty 20 minutes followed before Melksham replied in kind, but with no conversion.
In the period up to half time that followed, Warminster grew into the game, but dropped the ball on numerous occasions. Melksham matched them in this department. Finally though, after an extended period inside the oppostion final third, Warminster broke through with centre Sam Couch dotting down close to the base of the posts. Blaszkiw scraped the outside of the posts with the conversion attempt.
Melksham again forced their way back into the game, helped in no small part by the armada of subs that arrived after the Melksham 2nd XV game at Westbury was cancelled at short notice. Not legal in terms of league rules, but commonplace nonetheless. Despite resolute Warminster defence Melksham crossed their line again, but, coming out in sympathy with the Warminster skipper, the opppostion kicker failed to slot the extras too. Warminster led 12-10 half time.
The second half was still scrappy. Defences and knock ons were on top. Melksham's higher level subs helped keep them in the game and may even have won them it in the final analysis, which would have been a hard pill to swallow, but as it stood they only managed to take the lead, nudging them in front by 12-17 halfway through the half.
Warminster responded in good time with the best little move of the game. Breaking down the short side, Flak delivered another sublimely well-timed pass to number 8 Matt Bannister who broke clear and got the ball down despite a valiant attempt to hold the ball up by the Melksham full back. The difficult conversion went wide and the scores were tied.
That is how the game, which was played in very good spirits, with only one yellow card for a non-malicious high tackle, ended. Although the Amber and Blues will be concerned by what looked to be serious injuries to veteran Chris Bell and youngster Felix Sheves and disappointed not to get a victory against a team they have consistently beaten over a number of years now, in the end this was a fair result against a side heavily shored up by a Melksham squad playing at a higher level. In this context, the draw, with a much changed line up to boot, is one that merits due credit. On the plus side, it was also great to see three colts in the starting line up, none of whom looked out of place. The boys will look forward now to the visit of Combe Down 2nds next weekend in the rescheduled match from before Xmas. This will be played as part of a double header, with Warminster 1st XV playing host to North Wiltshire rivals Royal Wootton Bassett 2nds. Writes Glenn Marden.
Squad: A Clarke, S Blaszkiw, M Dunford, T Russell, A Russell, C Bell, F Sharp, M Banister, W Thomas, D Flak, B Meaden, S Couch, J Edis, F Sheves, J Legg, M James, S Di Roberto