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!st XV Sunk in the mire

2 weeks ago By derek Cheshire

To misquote "To play rugby is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering." The only way is to dig deep and train hard.

Old Tonbridgians 88 – 24 Winchester

A week is a long time in rugby and the elation of victory was quickly quashed as Winchester collapsed 88 to 24 away, victims of a ruthless Old Tonbridgians side in another battle in the mud. Despite numerous rear-guard actions, this was not an equal conflict as “men ran over boys” and OT’s picked up their try bonus point in the first quarter of the game.
Last week Winchester coach Gareth Martin chose not to single out individuals in what was a team victory; this week it was again team culpability for defeat, but on an epic scale. Rarely can a Winchester team have provided such a poor defensive performance. Slipping off tackles, poor positioning, inability to hold onto the ball, turning over possession in the ruck; as one Winchester player said “I have never played for this team…. (where we) have imploded through lack of fight.”
Six trys to two down at half time, Coach Martin recognised that the team OT’s fielded today had some “good individuals” but urged the players to “start all over again… to back ourselves”. Winchester did respond and were more competitive in the third quarter, but without control of the set piece any team will find it hard to gain momentum. Lineouts were not secure and an exceptional scrum was able to push Winch backwards at will. No 8 Alex Lee and scrum half Patch Cheshire had to fight for every ball on their own put in.
If Winch were able to move the ball past the half backs they were met with a smothering defence, capable of turning over possession and transforming it into points. OT’s showed how defence leads to attack and Winch, with no sound resistance, were ruthlessly taken apart in the final quarter.
It’s hard to find positives but the three trys provided some hope, even though salvaging a fourth try bonus point vanished on the final whistle. Winch, now condemned to the ignominy of a relegation position, remain two points above Eastleigh.
As for Winchester’s trys, prop Tom Williams took the first with a forceful, aggressive run that for once caught OT’s off guard. He did it again sliding in under the posts but unselfishly sliding the ball back to Josh Tolan to dot down for the second. Will Wood scored a third receiving the ball at pace to swerve convincingly past the flailing full back; three games and three trys make him an attacking threat for the future.
It was one of those days where Winch could do very little right and OT’s could do no wrong. As the scoreboard ran away from them, Winch players fell off the pace contributing to the worst day at the office this season. As Captain Jim Beavan said “We lost; we train on Tuesday and we go again!” And if the lads show up and work at it, there is no doubt they can get out of the muddy hole they slipped into on a grey, wet afternoon in south London.

Team : T Williams, J Edwards, J Beavan, C Ettinger, S Hadlington, A Hiscock, S Walker, A Lee, P Cheshire, J Tolan, C Preston, J Ribeiro, W Wood, T Forster, O Dunger,
Subs : B Turner, J Mitchell, D Berrigan

Trys : Williams, Tolan, Wood
Conversions : Dunger x3
Penalty : Dunger

Old Tonbridgians : Trys 13 Conversions 11

Updated 17:50 - 8 Feb 2018 by Brian Challis

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