Warminster fall to Melksham
A reshuffled 1st XV were beaten away at Melksham
Warminster travelled to Melksham with a reshuffled team, with 16 players unavailable across the club it meant there were call ups for Eddie Read, Sam Couch, Gavin Pratt, Matty Akers and Hugo Spink making his 1st XV debut. Kevin ‘Butch’ Forrester also return to the 1st XV after being out with an injured knee. Daniel Harris was also recalled after his hatrick for the 2nds a few weeks ago.
The visitors began the game at 100 miles an hour, with quick ball from the breakdowns the amber and blues were keeping the home sides defence very busy in the in the opening minutes. It wasn’t long before the visitors took the lead, after an infringement from the home side, Warminster elected to kick to the corner to have an attacking lineout deep in the home sides half. the ball was quickly off the top of the lineout and scrum half Jimmy Rees was able to swiftly move the ball out to half back partner Gavin Pratt was able to delicately chip the ball over the defensively wall for centre Sam Couch to skilfully pick up and dash under the posts to score. Rees with the kicking duties this week slotted the simple extras. The home side responded positively exerting pressure on the visitors with some strong passages of play, resulting in Warminster’s defence being tested for long periods of time. Eventually the home side were on the score board. Similar to the visitors score, an attacking line out for the home side, quick ball of the top was quickly whipped out to the Melksham fly half who was able to throw a long miss pass, the defence read the pass and both Pratt and Couch rushed up looking for the intercept, but were finger tips away from grabbing the ball, the pass found its way to Melksham’s outside centre was able to sprint through the gap to score. Conversion was successful. Warminster hit back with a penalty through Rees to re take the lead. The rest of the half was littered by mistakes from both sides, trying to play a high fast tempo game which resulted in a lot of scrum practice for skipper Stephen Rowbotham and front row colleagues Matty Akers and Matty Dunford. The half ended with no more scores as when the teams weren’t making mistakes the defences were stopping any attacks dead.
The second half carrying on in the same fashion as the 1sts mistakes caused through fast play and forced passes and offloads. Both teams remained off the score sheet for a further 15 minutes of the fixture, the away side were beginning to tire and the home side had noticed this, so began to manage the game with some good kicks to the corner and piling on the pressure to the away sides lineout. This tactic seemed to work well, as the pressure paid off for Melksham, as they were able to exploit tiredness and poor tackling to secure a bonus point for scoring a further 3 converted tries this accompanied by 2 penalties. Warminster were no doubt extremely disappointed by this performance as an overall, the game plan was never in play and physically were dominated in the second half. However the visitors were able to have the last stay when skipper Rowbotham smashed over to score in the last play of the game to score his second try, after some good phases of play conducted by Pratt. Pratt missed the extras and the final whistle blew. Warminster were out muscled in the fixture, and would openly admit that was one of the poorest performances of the season. But let’s not take credit away from Melksham, whom managed the game well and played in the right areas of the field, the home side’s decision making was much better than ours at times.
The positives were seeing some of the 2nd XV players stepping up to 1st team rugby and holding their own in passages of the game. It was good to see Kev Forrester returning after his injury. Other highlights were the work rate of Connor McPherson, always hungry for the ball in attack and making his tackles in defence. James Rowbotham and Waisale Cakau making powerful tackles as always and in a backrow partnership with Ollie Pinnell were very hard working and hitting around the park. Player coach Robert Rowbotham also managed to get on the pitch for the last moments of the game to play alongside his two sons James and Steve. This weekend the 1sts have a week off from league action, they will no doubt use this opportunity to rest up and use the extra training sessions to prepare for their next league fixture against Bradford Avon at Folly Lane.
Writes Jimmy Rees