Combe secured a bonus point win against Southend Saxons, and thus kept hopes of survival alive for the last week of the league campaign. Combe needed a win and the extra point, the visitors were already doomed but had not read the script leading 10-18 at half-time. Combe though sharpened up in the second half and ran out comfortable winners at the finish. The conditions were good, at last some spring sunshine and a good crowd in.
Combe made a bright start making clear their intentions to score early and score often. Combe got the shove on at the first scrum. Multi phases, good support and James Lindfield was put in the clear and over. No conversion, 5-0. The Saxons reply with a penalty having caught Combe offside, and come closer still but Charlie O’Sullivan and Lewis Harte are back to cover. The Saxons are in the corner and the No. 8 doubles back on the blindside for Matt Wagstaff to squeeze in by the flag. Combe are quickly back on the attack but spill the ball close to the line. The Saxons run it straight back and winger Ross O’Brien is on hand to score under the posts. End to end. Try converted, 5-15. This is not in the script, and this is after twenty minutes. It looks a bit better for Combe when with quick ball from a line-out at half-way, Bradley Saffery finds a gap and goes all the way to the line. No conversion. Before the half is finished the Saxons knock over another penalty and have another bounce back off the upright to go in at half-time 10-18 ahead. It’s not quite going the way it ought to.
With the re-start spilled Combe are soon on the opposition line, wining penalties and scrums. The visitors resist for a while as almost every Combe player has a go, but at last a gap in the Saxons’ defence opens and Ed Durkin is through and over by the posts. James Cameron converts. Combe are on the attack again, set up from a Jordan Saunders interception, David Pohlen on a long run with support but the Saxons scramble back to cover. But they are on the back foot. Dan Hamilton works his way through traffic and is round to the posts for a converted try, a bonus point, and the makings of a clear lead, 24-18. Combe pinch a line-out and win a penalty (27-18), and from the re-start catch and drive for forty yards or so, and with a penalty advantage, and the Saxons back-tracking Dave Bonner forces his way over taking the inside pass from Bradley Saffery. Try converted, 34-18. That’s more like it, and more to come. Another charge by Dan Hamilton sets up good position for quick ball for Scott Pursell to cross out on the right. Another conversion for James Cameron. There’s still five minutes and injury time. The Saxons want the last word. With Combe pinned back in their own corner, the visitors are over from a catch and drive for a consolation score and conversion. Full time. Combe have their bonus point win.
Hopes for survival remain slim as other league results present a monumental effort required in the last fixture next Saturday when Tring, still in the race for promotion, visit. But it can be done. Kick-off 3.00pm. Don’t miss. Be sure to be there.
Westcombe Park XV: W. Robinson; D. Hamilton, B. Saffery, D. Bonner, L. Harte; J. Cameron, E. Durkin; N. Porter, K. Onwuka, J. Forsyth, T. Clarke, C. O’Sullivan, G. Milligan, J. Lindfield, C. Springer.
Bench: J. Saunders, D. Pohlen, S. Pursell.
Match reporter - Bruce Mackenzie.
Updated 08:35 - 23 Apr 2018 by Mark Ley