Another Slap in the Face Away for a Weakened Combe
Southend 36-14 Westcombe Park
Having lost away to Shelford and Hertford and come perilously close at Sutton and Epsom this was another blot on Combe's late away form. The team would look strange to any regular watcher with many changes and Charlie Edwards kicking the conversions it all looked like a team that weren't properly on each others wave length leading to many mistakes which gave both territorial and possession to Southend who were doing enough on their own without additional help from Combe.
So this was typical of the sort of match you often get at the end of a season when one team have nothing to play for and the other needing a result. In this case Southend being docked 10 points had put them in the relegation zone, a difficult position for a team playing National Two rugby last year. This was their fifth consecutive win and have now safely escaped their potentially embarrassing fate and in this game did it with some style
Six tries and three conversions, 36 points, and all that before Combe even got on the board. AND it could have been worse, three times Southend crossed the line in the first-half, twice the ball was held up and once deemed to have had a forward pass in the move. And that is to say nothing about the fact that none of the three tries they did score before the interval were converted!
Under the cosh from the start with the Southend back-row particularly dominant the tries in the 6th, 20th and 41st minutes show that Southend did not have it all their own way but they did make much use of the forwards dominance, unlike many games this season for Combe's oppositions.
Combe didn't enjoy much luck either, Scott Pursell pulling a hamstring after five minutes chasing down a speculitive kick over the top which lead to the first try from Chris Vaughan benefitting from a kind bounce. The second Southend try was scored by the hugely influential skipper Marcus Bloomberg who shrugged off two or three tackles to cross for the second and scrum-half Ricki Gould's tap and go from a penalty that produced the third.
Things didn't get much better for Combe at the start of the second-half. Within 6 minutes Southend had secured their bonus point, Marcus Bloomberg doing the hard work before unloading to Bert Radrevicius, inside ten minutes Chris Vaughan had his second and well before the start of the fourth quarter had completed their scoring with Chris Vaughan completing his hat-trick and Tom Ashton securing all three conversions.
Not before time James Forsyth got Combe on the board in the 65th minute and eight minutes later substitute Cameron Del Moro got the second try both of which were converted by Charlie Edwards. I hardly dare mention that Southend had a player yellow carded in the 62nd minuute, but I will for the sake of impartiality!
Excuses corner: 1, injuries to two starters, Scott Pursell after five minutes, Frankie Neale, early in the second-half. Excuses corner: 2, 8 regular first team players out. Excuses corner: 3, Two first team debutants and a further six played the majority of season in the 2's. That's enough of that and rumour has it there will be a lot of returns this week if you were thinking of changing your plans to go to Chichester!
Squad: Frankie Neale; Max Roddick, Bradley Saffery, Ant Hichcock, Scott Pursell; Bradley Bate-up, Charlie Edwards; Jim Stanford, Sam Penny, Jamie Forsyth; Tom Clarke, Mark Davey; Dan Fox, Lee Covington, Charlie O'Sullivan. Marcus Grima, James Kenward, Cameron Del Moro.
Match Reporter: Mike Attewell (in absentia) With thanks to Mark Ley, Christine Slater, Vern and Paul.