Five Try Williams stars in New Year Thriller
By Gavin Pratt
Warminster started 2019 and the second half of the season with a trip to face Pewsey Vale on Saturday. In an absolute thriller of a game the die hard supporters of both sides braving the cold were kept warm with 16 tries to savour.
It was the Amber and Blues who came out on top snatching a late victory by 43-55.
Warminster travelled with a bare 15 after a late pull out due to a ‘mechanical break down’. There were also positional changes with Dan Bowman shifting to number 8 and winger Ross Williams moving to the flank. The ever green veteran Malcolm Bryant at 62 years of age was once again called up to the 1st XV with a shortage of front row available.
The amber and blues got off to the perfect start when almost immediately from the kick off the ball was recycled out to centre Dan McIntyre who broke through the Pewsey defence and ran in under the posts. Ross Williams on kicking duties added the easy conversion.
Stunned by this Pewsey replied using there big runners to gain territory close to the Warminster line, the away side managed to steal a turnover but when McIntyre’s clearance kick failed to find touch, the amber and blues were caught off side. Pewsey took the opportunity to add three points through former Warminster man Rob Johnson.
Pewsey continued to use one off runners from the base of the rucks and when the amber and blues infringed again close to the line, a quick tap penalty saw ball reach the Pewsey skipper who barged through his counterpart Gavin Pratt’s flimsy tackle and under the posts for a converted score.
The amber and blues re-gained the lead when Pewsey over threw a lineout on half way. Williams scooped up the ball and using his pace went on a mazy run through the Pewsey defence to score under the posts. Williams converted his good work.
Not long after Williams added his second as Pewsey couldn’t cope with his shear pace and the amber and blues had now opened up an 11 point gap.
Warminster were guilty of indiscipline committing offence after offence at the breakdown which allowed Pewsey to gain more territory and possession. They added a second try of their own at close quarters to close the gap to 15-21.
The amber and blues grabbed the bonus point score with a good team try through hooker Alex Jenkins. Full back Tom Evans made the initial break and with good support from his teammates Warminster were able to clear the ruck quickly and ship the ball out to centre Jason Sprangle. Sprangle jinked his way close to the line but was tackled just short and popped the ball up to Jenkins who flopped over two yards. Williams somehow managed to miss the simple conversion.
The half was far from done and the amber and blues were stunned when Pewsey continued to hit back at them. Poor tackling and defence resulted in Pewsey scoring two converted tries before half time, although the second was somewhat dubious when it appeared from close quarters that Bryant had pulled off a superb bit of defence in stopping Pewsey from grounding the ball – the official thought differently and somehow Pewsey went into half time leading by 29-26.
At half time coach Rob Rowbotham pleaded with the Warminster outfit to improve the defence and with the slope now in their favour, the result would take care of itself.
The second half started perfectly for the amber and blues. Refusing to kick from their own twenty two and continue to play the expansive rugby they have all season, McIntyre once again showed his power and pace racing to the Pewsey line for an unconverted score.
Back in the lead the Amber and Blues then gifted Pewsey a try. Warminster took a quick tap penalty and with an overlap on offer the ball reached fly half Pratt, looking to time his pass out to the supporting Dean Priestman it was ex Warminster man Johnson who was able to read his former teammates mind and intercepted the pass to run in under the posts for a converted score. The opportunist try seemed to galvanise the home side and they were unlucky not score another when from a driving maul the ball appeared to be grounded but was deemed not have been scored. Maybe this was a little bit of justice for the first half score having been given? It didn’t halt the Pewsey surge for long though and they scored soon after to extend the lead to 43-31.
The amber and blues were then dealt a blow when Evans had to leave the field with a nasty looking knee injury and reduce the away side to 14 men for the remaining 20 minutes of the match. With a 12 point deficit and a man down the outlook didn’t look good for Warminster.
Pewsey should’ve killed the game off when their centre broke free and seemed to have a clear run to the line. For some reason though he stopped and tried to give the ball on to a supporting player, this allowed the amber and blues to scramble back in defence and force a knock-on.
With just 11 minutes left on the clock Warminster were going to need something miraculous to win the game and boy did they produce it with a four try blitz to stun the home side! Williams grabbed his hat-trick having now moved back to his normal wing position and coming into the line to run in from his own half to score. Once again he somehow missed the easy conversion. With six minutes to go Williams grabbed another when a good clearance kick by Pratt found the Pewsey full back out of position, Williams won the race to be first to the ball and kicked through to regather and beat the covering defence to the line. Sprangle now on kicking duties couldn’t add the difficult conversion and the score was 43-41 to the home side. At this point there was only going to be one winner and it was McIntyre who bagged his brace to put the amber and blues in front with a converted score.
There was still time for one final try and it was the man of the moment Williams who grabbed his fifth try of the afternoon and sealed the Warminster victory by 43-55.
What a game this was to open up 2019 with for the Amber and Blues!
Stand in skipper Gavin Pratt commented “This will sound daft but it was game we should’ve lost with 20 minutes to go, but actually one we could’ve won by more if we could tighten up the defence. The missed Pewsey opportunity when they were on top was the key and had they scored that I think the game was over. But fair play to our guys, to be down to 14 men and come back and win the way we did showed immense character. I can’t praise them enough. Ross Williams was obviously the star man with 5 tries, but everyone dug deep to get the result. The pack especially won a few important scrums against the head in the second half which were key when Pewsey had good attacking positions. Going forward into 2019 we just need to look at our defence and discipline. The ref showed me the penalty count at half time and we’d conceded 8 penalties to Pewsey’s 1 which clearly isn’t good enough. If we could cut that down we have an attack which in my eyes is the best in the league. There’s only one game where we haven’t managed to gain a four try bonus point and not even leaders Combe Down have bettered that”
Next week the 1st XV welcome Royal Wootton Bassett II’s to Folly Lane with the 2nd XV facing Combe Down II’s in a rearranged fixture from before Christmas. Both kick off at 1415