Warminster suffer first defeat in 14 try thriller
By Gavin Pratt
Warminster 1st XV travelled to face Royal Wootton Bassett II’s on Saturday. On a beautiful late summers afternoon conditions were perfect for a game of running rugby and boy did both teams oblige.
In a thrilling contest Warminster suffered their first defeat of the league campaign by 51-40.
The amber and blues welcomed loose head prop Olly Hares into the starting XV for the first time this season along with Luke Windsor and 18 year old Dom Davey in the back row stepping up from the 2nd XV.
It was the home side who got off to the better start as in typical fashion Warminster were very much still stuck in their car seats glued to their social media! Bassett soon crossed the whitewash for a deserved first score and give the sluggish amber and blues the kick start they needed. Immediately from the restart Warminster were finally able to gain some meaningful possession with winger Tom Evans superbly regaining Jason Sprangles kick and forcing their way upfield. The amber and blues scrum had the nudge on their opponents in the early exchanges and it was from a scrum five metres and in centre field that they were able to draw level. Choosing to break to the big open blindside, centre Laisiasa Vinakadina fixed a perfect pass to Evans who dived into the corner for the score. Sprangle couldn’t add the difficult conversation.
In what became a common theme for the game Bassett regained the lead with a converted try not long after the restart with Warminster failing to execute an exit from their own twenty two. Warminster’s second try arrived via hooker Alex Jenkins. Having scored his first ever senior try the previous week he added his second after some good interplay and barrelled over. Sprangle this time added the extra two point.
The first half continued to ebb and flow and Bassett again re took the lead with their third try before flanker Luke Windsor hit back with another try from close quarters after a good driving maul from a line out. Sprangle again adding the conversion.
With half time approaching the home once again took the lead with their fourth and bonus point try before adding a penalty following a Warminster infringement. Before the half was out Dom Davey was sin binned for a professional foul close to his own line reducing the amber and blues to 14 men for 10 minutes. To his and everyone’s horror there was a small moment of panic when the referee reached in the wrong pocket and showed Davey a red card before quickly rectifying his mistake! The score at half time was 27-19.
Coach Emosi Naisaramaki was suitably unimpressed at the interval delivering a few choice words about the amber and blues lack of application in defence.
In the second half Warminster shot out of the blocks stunning the home side with a three try blitz. Evans grabbed his second of the game racing down the left wing after a well timed pass from fly half Gavin Pratt. The second came after Pratt broke through the rushing up Basset defensive line with some nifty footwork to belie his ageing years. From the ensuing breakdown the ball was recycled out to Vinakadina who took advantage of the gap in the Bassett defence to glide over. The amber and blues were now playing at a high tempo which their opponents were struggling with and stretched their lead further with newly found try machine Jenkins adding his second of the game in carbon copy fashion to his first. Sprangle converted all three tries and Warminster were now in the lead by 27-40.
However Bassett were not to be deterred as the amber and blues were guilty of thinking the game was won. Not to be outdone by Warminsters fast start to the second half they stunned the amber and blues with four tries and 24 unanswered points in the final quarter to snatch the game by 51-40.
At the final whistle the amber and blues were visibly gutted to have thrown away a commanding lead but credit must be given to the home side for simply not wanting to give up. In truth a draw would probably have been a fair result.
The amber and blues will be monumentally disappointed to have scored 40 points away from home and not come away with the victory. Whilst they scored some excellent tries the same cannot be said for their first up tackles and game management which ultimately cost them the game.
Warminster can take some positives in the performances of Evans with his two tries and constant threat at the restart regaining possession a number of times, along with Bowman who on the flip side was a solid as a rock under every restart. Lets hope in the weeks to come the amber and blues can improve their defence and Evans won’t have to chase too many restarts with.
Next week Warminster welcome Supermarine to Folly lane.