Western Counties West
St Austell 15, Wellington 14

WELLINGTON were knocked off the top of the table by St Austell on Saturday, after conceding a last-minute try to their Cornish rivals, writes Allyn Chetland.

On an extremely wet and windy day, Liam Phillips and Vinny Gordan came into the Red & Blacks starting XV, for what was always going to be a 'game of two halves'.

Whichever team had the wind at their backs had a massive advantage, and that was Wellington in the first half.

They were soon camped deep in home territory, and were first to get on the scoreboard through prop Jack Richards, who powered over following a prolonged period of pressure.

Full-back Rob Hooper made no mistake with the extra points, despite the blowing gale.

Further scoring opportunities were limited, with the conditions playing a major part in this.

The R&Bs thought they had crossed for a second try just before the end of the half, but the officials thought otherwise, so it remained 7-0 at the break.

The visitors' lead was cut to four points as the hosts opened their account with a 30m penalty, landed by Chris Ashwin.

Much like the first period, possession was even, but the R&Bs spent extended periods of time in the Saints half playing against the elements.

With 20 minutes remaining, Wellington put together the attacking move of the match; starting from within their own half they irresistibly advanced up the pitch through numerous phases, showing superb continuity.

Phillips finished the move when he crashed over near the corner flag for an outstanding team try.

Hooper stepped up, keeping the ball low, to smash the ball over for the extra points and a 14-3 lead.

The opportunity for a third try came and went, and the hosts were awarded a penalty which they kicked deep into Wellington territory.

The R&Bs repelled the initial assault but could not stop Kyle Marriott from crossing for a converted try, making it 14-10 with 10 minutes to go.

The match continued to be played in visitors' half but they were comfortably dealing with the Saints attacking phases.

With three minutes left, the home side laid siege to the Wellington try-line with a series of scrums which required outstanding defence to repel.

However, scrum-half Dan Goldstone was then shown a yellow card, and from the resulting scrum winger Cavan Boyer crossed for an unconverted try wide out to take the spoils in what was the last play of the match.

This was a bitter pill to swallow for Wellington, but the whole squad must be applauded for the shift they put in during this encounter in extremely difficult conditions.

It must be said that, with a different rub of the green, they would have claimed victory.

St Austell are now one point ahead of Wellington at the top of the table, but the R&Bs have a game in hand.

Wellington squad: Richards, Phillips, Marke, M Walker, R Walker, Venn, Lee, Kitto, Goldstone, Jarman (c), Harney, Hodgson, Gordan, Davey, Hooper, Sestaret, Bellamy, Howe.

This coming Saturday, the R&Bs take a break from league action as they travel to Bideford for the South West Counties Final of the National Intermediate Cup (2.30pm).


WIVELISCOMBE'S Western Counties West fixture at Tiverton was called off on Saturday morning, as was expected, with their pitch being under water.

The game will hopefully take place on March 14 - both teams are desperate to win this game, as they are towards the lower end of the table.

Wiveliscombe are in 10th place on 30 points, with Tiverton one place below with 29, although they have a game in hand.