Western Counties West
Chard 16, Wellington 20

A NEW season, with new and different challenges for Wellington, started with a short away trip over the Blackdowns to face local rivals Chard, writes Allyn Chetland.

As one may expect, the opening half of this new season was not one for the purists, with plenty of mistakes by both sides.

Chard held the advantage in the scrum for most of the half, whereas Wellington looked the more dangerous with ball in hand.

Both sides had scoring chances in the opening half but were thwarted either by good defence or by taking the wrong options.

The home side broke the deadlock, after a series of scrums on the visitors’ line, when the ball was transferred quickly out to the wing for a try by Huw Edwards.

The extra points could not be taken and there were no further scores in the half, Chard 5-0 up.

Wellington started the second period brightly but soon found themselves further behind via Niall Crouch’s penalty.

But the Red & Blacks’ response was immediate, George Hodgson chasing the restart and Chard knocking it on, and after a series of well-executed driving mauls No 8 Cam Venn ploughed over for a try by the posts.

Full-back Rob Hooper converted to reduce Chard’s lead to one point, and after Crouch and Hooper had exchanged penalties, a second penalty from Hooper put his side ahead for the first time.

A try by Chris Kitto, following a series of drives by the forwards, and Hooper’s conversion then extended that advantage to 20-11.

With 10 minutes remaining, Chard’s Billy Brooks crossed for try following some slack tackling by the R&Bs, but the conversion hit the post.

A hectic finale ensued, with both teams having chances to score.

In the dying minutes the hosts had an opportunity with an attacking lineout on the R&Bs’ 22m line, but the visiting pack stole the ball to secure a narrow win.

The R&Bs can be very happy to come away with the spoils against a spirited and much-improved Chard team, with Ash Harney, Hooper and Hodgson all catching the eye with their performances.

Wellington: Richards, Dyke, Marke, Walker (M), Walker (R), Kitto, Phillips, Venn, Brewer, Jarman (c), Goldstone, Hodgson, Davey, Harney, Hooper, Crosby, Hinchcliffe, Batts.

This Saturday sees another local derby for Wellington, as Cullompton visit the Athletic Ground.

The Devon side were relegated from the league above at the end of last season, so will be somewhat of an unknown quantity, but they did suffer a shock home defeat to Wadebridge Camels in their opening match of this campaign which will have hurt.


Western Counties West
Bideford 34, Wiveliscombe 10

WIVELISCOMBE found it hard going in the first Western Counties League match of the season, against a well-drilled home team who matched the visitors in scrums and lineouts, writes Roger Bellamy.

Newly-promoted Wivey, it must be said, were not at full strength and problems began when Rory Stone was injured in the warm-up, leaving the visitors with just two on the bench.

Even so, they started well enough, having the edge in the first 10 minutes making good inroads with their forwards, which ended in a try for captain John Ker.

Dan Quick converted to put Wivey 7-0 ahead.

The home team’s backs look threatening, though, and they pulled a try back through outside centre Rob Elliott.

Quick gave Wivey a 10-5 advantage on 20 minutes, after Bideford were penalised at a breakdown, but the hosts took the lead for the first time when prop Josh Morgan finished off good work by his fellow forwards, and Shaun East converted.

Wivey then suffered injuries to two players in quick succession, forcing them to use their remaining players off the bench; the team had to be reorganised and from that point on the visitors lost their fluency.

Bideford added a third try just before half-time, prop Richard Norman finishing off a good move to make it 19-10 at the break.

The home side added two more tries, through Will Copp and Morgan’s second, after the interval, while East converted one and added a penalty.

Wiveliscombe, to their credit, had good periods of pressure but their team play had been severely affected by injuries, leaving them a player short in the last quarter.

This coming Saturday, Wiveliscombe’s 1st XV host Saltash (ko 3pm), while in Somerset 2 South, Wivey 2nds travel to Chard 2nds.