On the day Warminster RFC celebrate the 10th year anniversary of building their clubhouse. The 1st XV hosted new boys Marlborough 2nd XV. Marlborough have received back to back promotions in the last few years and didn’t look out of place in Dorset and Wilts 1 North League on Saturday.
Warminster had several 1st XV debutants in the squad. Pete Evans, Kurt Hilton, Ben Ryan and Steve McNeillie all making their first appearances in the amber and blue.
Warminster were keen to embrace new game plans and the new coaches in their first league game under the new coaching team of Danny Webb and Chris Kelly. Warminster did start off very strong but a mixture of errors and some good determined Marlborough defence in the first have saw very little action with the score line, with the only points of the half coming from the hosts, via the boot of scrum half Jason Sprangle from a 30 metre penalty. After the first quarter Marlborough were able to get back into the game from poor discipline from the hosts allowing visitors to get some time on the ball, and used their fly half’s boot to pin back Warminster deep into their half from boot of the visitors fly half. With the hosts penalty count still raising it wasn’t long before the referee decided to take further action, a penalty committed by the hosts from a line out resulted in skipper Steve Rowbotham been showed a yellow for continued team infringements. Warminster even with 14 continued to dominate in the scrum, but the composure in attack wasn’t quite there, passes dropping short of the players and offloads being dropped. The half ended 3-0.
The words from coaches Chris Kelly and Rob Rowbotham were simple; calm down and play to the structure. That’s what the ambers and blues did. Warminster from the restart saw 2nd row Dan Bowman take the high kick very well and crash through the first few defenders before getting eventually getting tackled. This gave the amber and blues some front foot ball, fly half Jimmy Rees called for the quick ball and distributed quickly to centre Dan McIntyre who accelerated through the gap and making some massive ground. The Warminster attack were now stretching the tiring visitors defence. Bowman who started the passage of play, was the person to finish it when he took a short ball of Sprangle and crashed over from short distance. Sprangle’s conversion attempt from out wide was missed. Warminster made some changes Steve McNeillie and Steve Matthews were brought on. Both making an instant impact on the field. McNeillie noticeably carrying the ball strongly in the loose. Soon after coming on Matthews crashed over the line to score the second score. Matthews spotted a gap and timed his run to perfection to find the weak spot in the defence. Sprangle missed the conversion. Warminster now leading 13-0. Marlborough struck back when a good backs moves created a line break. Full back Sam Couch making a cracking last ditch tackle, but a fantastic offload made it to the Marlborough support runner who was able to score under the posts. Conversion was successful. (13-7). This set up a fantastic last 20 minutes. The large home support were getting behind the amber and blues which began to further spur them on. A deep clearing kick from Marlborough was caught well by amber and blues debutant flanker Pete Evans deep in his own half. A fantastic surging run saw Evans break through a couple of tackles a get Warminster in the Marlborough half recreating that quick ball the hosts had earlier in the half. Winger Dan Harris also carrying the ball very well! These moments gave Warminster the confidence to secure the victory. The hosts went on to score 4 more tries in the last quarter. Reid Curtis, Dan Woods, Dan McIntyre all scored with Bowman also getting his 2nd of the game. Rees added 1 conversion to give the home side a 35-7 win. Man of the match was close but debutant Steve McNeillie was awarded it for the impact he made of the bench.
Job done!! But there are still plenty of things to work on. The amber and blues will be very concerned about the penalty count against them which could have easily cost them the game. Next Saturday (21/9/19). The amber and blue will host title contenders Melksham who secured an impressive 12-20 away victory against fellow league challengers Avonvale. 3pm kick off!