Amber and blues suffer disappointing defeat at hands of Avonvale
By Gavin Pratt
Warminster travelled to fifth placed Avonvale on Saturday looking to maintain the pressure at the top of the Wadworths Dorset and Wilts North 1 table.
In another high scoring and entertaining contest the visitors from Folly Lane left on the wrong side of the result losing by 34-26.
The amber and blues had to make some changes in the front row with both their skipper Steve Rowbotham and his vice Alex Jenkins both unavailable. This meant emergency calls to Dan Woods and John Baysting to fill the void.
The match didn’t start well for Warminster when straight from the whistle no one took charge of the kick off which set the tone for the early exchanges. Avonvale were first on the score sheet when a well drilled lineout maul drove over the line with little resistance for a converted score.
The amber and blues were allowing Avonvale to gain yards in the tackle and in particular from there stand out number 8 who continued to be there go to man right until the final whistle. Warminster drew level against the run of play when fly half and stand in skipper read a pass from his opposite number with precision and intercepted to run in under the posts from half way. Pratt also added the simple conversion.
Avonvale replied with another score before as they continued cause the amber and blues problems around the fringes of the breakdowns. Warminster flanker Luke Windsor was doing his best to disrupt the tide with a good turnover and a number of solid tackles but needed some more help from his fellow forwards.
As the half went on Warminster gained a bit more possession and were able to cause some problems out wide where there strength this season lies. They scored a second try when a good break from full back Tom Evans saw him approach the Avonvale twenty two and give a well timed pass to winger Ross Williams who evaded the touch line and attempted covering tackle to dive in the corner. The difficult conversion attempt was missed.
Before the half was done Warminster conceded a third try meaning the went into the break 19-12 down.
The discussion at half time was to try and thwart the Avonvale lineout drive and be better in the tackle to stop the home side getting over the gainline.
The second half could not have got off to a worse start when centre Dan McIntyre was sin binned for a non malicious, but high tackle and the amber and blues were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes. Avonvale then stretched their lead with a somewhat controversial try. At another lineout for Avonvale 10 metres out from the Warminster line, the amber and blues decided not engage and create a maul. By the laws of the game for Avonvale players now not to be offside the ball needed to remain with the front man. The ball had in fact been transferred back a couple of players and thus causing accidental offside which should have resulted in a scrum to Warminster. The referee allowed Avonvale to rumble over the line with no maul formed and awarded the try much to the frustration of the Amber and Blues outift. The confusing explanation given to skipper Pratt at the time was “had the ball not been transferred back by the Avonvale players, then the try would have been disallowed”.
Warminster looked to get over there annoyance and hit back with a converted try from McIntyre having returned to the fray from his 10 minute rest.
The game was tooing and froing as the game opened up and the wide pitch. Avonvale increased the lead further with a five man overlap as the amber and blues ran out of numbers trying to chase the game.
With just 6 minutes left the Folly Lane outfit managed to secure a bonus point for scoring four tries when McIntyre went over the line again for his 16th try of the season in just nine games.
In the final minutes Warminster looked to gain a losing bonus point but it was not to be and Avonvale secured the win by 36-24.
Once again this was another thrilling contest that the Amber and Blues were involved in and on another day could have come away with the correct result. Avonvale were good value for the result though with their number 8 possibly the difference between the two sides.
For the amber and blues McIntyre continued his superb start to the season with another brace and Windsor in the back row was excellent securing good lineout ball for the visitors and putting himself about in the loose like all good flankers should do.
Stand in skipper Gavin Pratt reflected “It was a game which got away from us really. We allowed a few decisions to get to us at key times but when we had the mindset right, we played some good rugby. We’ve taken a try scoring bonus point from every game this season which no other team has done, so it shows our attacking prowess. We just need to tighten up in defence a little. We’ve got the Vase semi final next week away at Minety and a good chance to progress. We’ve not made a final for 10 years or so it’d be good to put the wrongs right and give ourselves a chance of some silverware”