Combe under the cosh.
Westcombe Park 15-49 Westcliff
Combe were well beaten by an upbeat, well drilled Westcliff side. The visitors were quick to exploit and punish Combe’s errors, running in seven tries, which kept the Under 11 ball-boys busy behind the posts. Combe were fielding a changed side as injuries are already taking their toll, and for the first time in a long while were second best at scrum time. They were also up against a resolute Westcliff defence which was mean and uncompromising. The conditions were fine for a good game.
Westcliff were soon on the scoreboard with a penalty, and then a try in the corner after their pack won a Combe scrum against the head. 0-8. Combe bounced back, with Alex Campbell and Dan Hamilton making some inroads. A Combe penalty, kick to the corner, line-out catch and drive, and James Lindfield was at the back touching down. Miki Zanirato converted. 7-8. Westcliff replied immediately with another penalty. 8-11. That’s the first quarter. The last ten minutes of the first half are mayhem. Miki Zanirato put over a penalty, Westcliff are over for a converted try as Combe’s defence back-pedals, the number 8 is over for another with a straightforward pushover (10-23, keep up!), Combe with a penalty advantage at the other end put Thibaud Calohard over from short range close to the posts, for a converted try, and there is still time for Westcliff to score a bonus point try as the winger is put in at the corner and round to the posts. Half-time 15-30.
Come the re-start the visitors pick up where they left off. Again down the wing over in the corner and round to the posts for an easy conversion. Ten minutes later they are over again, a try made by the inside centre. 15-42. Half an hour to go and it’s not looking too good, but to their credit Combe battered away at the Westcliff defence. Dave Bonner got through, Ant Hitchcock was close by the posts, Jamie Forsyth was inches away, Ryan Hackett, always in the thick of the action, came close, Charlie O’Sullivan made good breaks from the base of the scrum, Thibaud Calohard and James Lindfield were on the charge. Westcliff stood firm and held out. Come the last minutes of the game Westcliff are up the other end. Combe defend the first waves but are caught napping at a breakdown in front of the posts and their points machine skips clear and can convert his own try. 15-49, final whistle.
Combe stuck at it, but had been well beaten by a side on song. Hats off to young Mr. Grace making his debut from the bench, thrown in at the deep end and sticking to his task.
Next week Combe travel to Sutton and Epsom, and the next home game is 7th October when Combe entertain Guildford. A couple of wins to kick-start the season would be good. There is a lunch before the game on 7th October, see the web site for booking details.
Westcombe Park XV: J. Livett; D. Hamilton, A. Hitchcock, D. Bonner, P. Bosch; B. Bateup, M. Zanirato; J. Snape, L. Covington, J. Forsyth, C. O’Sullivan, T. Calohard, R. Hackett, J. Lindfield, A. Campbell.
Bench: D. Grace, J. Dennett, J. Birch.
Match reporter - Bruce Mackenzie.