Western Counties West
Sidmouth 11, Wellington 11

A TRIP to the league leaders will always be a tough ask, but Wellington rose magnificently to this challenge and can count themselves very unfortunate not to have come away with more points, writes Allyn Chetland.

George Hodgson replaced the injured Ash Harney with Rob Hooper taking a place on the bench.

The Red & Blacks started brightly down the slope and dominated territory and possession for the majority of the half.

After being camped on Sidmouth's try-line and following a series of rucks the ball found its way to winger Tyler Hart, who beat the covering defence to score an unconverted try wide out.

Sidmouth were soon forced to concede a penalty and full-back Alex Davey stepped up to increase the lead to eight points.

Next followed a period of play which would have a major bearing on the outcome of this match.

The R&Bs were once more camped on Sidmouth’s try-line and following a series of scrums were convinced they had twice crossed the try-line – but the referee was unsighted and neither try was given.

In the last five minutes, Sidmouth came back strongly and The R&Bs were forced to concede a number of penalties, one of which was taken.

With the slope in their favour, Sidmouth had more territory in the second half but rarely threatened The R&Bs' line until just after the 25-minute mark.

The visitors had numerous scoring chances but were halted by valiant defence by the hosts, and Sidmouth reduced the gap to two points via another penalty.

An unusual defensive lapse by The R&Bs with 10 minutes to go allowed Sidmouth to score an unconverted try, giving the hosts the lead for the first time in the match.

This score could have taken the wind out of the away side's sails, but it had the opposite effect.

They came roaring back and put Sidmouth under immense pressure for the remainder of the half, forcing the hosts to crack and concede a penalty in front of their posts, Davey coolly slotting home to even the scores.

The R&Bs gathered the restart and again worked their way within touching distance of Sidmouth's try-line, but it wasn’t to be in this enthralling and physical match between two evenly-matched teams.

Wellington squad: Richards, Dyke, Marke, Walker R, Walker M, Kitto, Phillips, Lee, Goldstone, Jarman (c), Hart, Hodgson, Gordan, Pitman, Davey, Hooper, Venn, Price.

On Saturday St Austell visit The Athletic Ground; the Cornish side are currently lying in second place so this will be another testing encounter for The R&Bs.


Somerset Premier
Nailsea & Blackwell 10, Wiveliscombe 15

WIVELISCOMBE saved one of their best performances of the season for this hard-earned victory over second-placed Nailsea & Backwell on Saturday, writes Roger Bellamy.

The North Somerset team had to win this game to keep the pressure on top-of-the-table Wivey, while also looking to to add to a good home record.

Winning the toss, Nailsea opted to play up the considerable slope in the first half, hoping to keep the visitors at bay and then use the slope advantage in the second half.

But Wivey were in no mood to give the home team any scoring opportunities and it soon became evident that the visiting scrum was to be their strength, giving the hosts a torrid time throughout.

Nailsea were, as always, strong with ball in hand, with both threes and forwards forcing Wiveliscombe to keep a tight defence around rucks and mauls and out wide.

But the visitors made good use of their possession, and hooker Tom Stone opened the scoring by finishing off a good period of pressure from his fellow forwards close to the try-line.

Visiting scrum-half Hugh Kelly then doubled Wivey's lead with a typical opportunist try, finding a hole in the home defence, though the conversion was again unsuccessful in the windy conditions.

Both teams had opportunities up to half time but the score remained 10-0 at the break.

The pitch conditions started to deteriorate as the game progressed, with some areas becoming very muddy.

As expected the home team used their large forwards to gain territory but Wivey's tackling was excellent and limited the home team to a solitary try, scored by No 8 Luke Caswell and converted by Alex Jones.

The Wivey scrum continued to secure good possession for the visitors, allowing them to create chances, one of which was finished off by top try scorer Jake Sharland to stretch the lead to 15-7.

The visitors finished the game strongly, cheered on by a large gathering of past players and supporters, and Nailsea could only kick a penalty to give them a losing bonus point.

Wiveliscombe now have a 12-point lead over Nailsea at the top of the table, with third-placed Burnham-on-Sea a further three points behind.

This coming Saturday, Wivey's 1st XV travel to Weston Hornets 2nds, while the 2nds host Bridgwater & Albion 3rds.