Combe win tussle with Towcester – just.
By Mark Ley
Westcombe Park 25-24 Towcestrians
Combe won their tussle with visitors Towcestrians, but only just. With both sides at the wrong end of the league, this was a ‘must win’ for either side. Combe came through at the end but had come close to throwing it away. Towcester would not leave unrewarded, earning for themselves two precious bonus points. This is January – cold, damp, overcast, stodgy underfoot. Not a day for open rugby, more a game of mistakes and errors. Both sides obliged. The result was in the balance until the final whistle, which kept the crowd keen and interested.
The visitors made a bright start, with much of the possession, but were being held. Combe made a belated visit to the opposition twenty-two only to concede a penalty, which quickly taken saw play back up the other end, and with swift hands left winger Alex Foggett was put over in the corner. The conversion attempt shaved the post the wrong side. This woke Combe up. Will Robinson and James Cameron
were kicking Combe into the right areas. Towcester went a man short for ten minutes, and with their defence under pressure conceded a penalty in front of the posts. James Cameron
knocked it over, to get Combe started on the scoreboard. Combe survived a let off as Towcester’s No. 8 burst clear and their right winger was over only to spill before touching down. A relieving kick for Combe to half-way, Combe’s line-out, quick ball down the line, chip through, James Potter
onto it only to be impeded. Penalty try to Combe, Towcester a man down again. The visitors are undaunted. A quick tap penalty on half way, a break by the scrum half and with second row Chris Kirby back on, he was on hand to take the scoring pass and touch down by the posts, for a converted try. 10-12 with half time but minutes away. That is time still for Towcester to score again. A penalty had taken them to Combe’s twenty-two, a catch and drive had Combe on the retreat and Towcester moved the ball swiftly for right-winger Alex Chalcraft to make sure of his touchdown in the corner. Half-time 10-19.
Combe had been caught napping and were unable to break down the visitors’ defence. Both sides were guilty of errors and mistakes, conceding too many penalties in the process. In the opening minutes of the second half, Combe looked a bit sharper. Dan Hamilton
found a little space and set up quick ball, spun left for Ryan Hackett
to plunge over in the left corner. The conversion attempt drifted wide. Then for a bizarre while both sides contrived to win the ball, lose the ball, turnover, spill the ball, but with play confined to within the ten metre lines, neither side posed a threat, until Towcester made a break for it down the left. Last ditch tackling saved the day for Combe. More spin and spill. Ben Hennah turned his opposite number and won a penalty. With Combe now close to Towcester’s twenty-two and another penalty, this one kickable, James Cameron
closed the deficit to 18-19. Soon after a longer range effort by Will Robinson hit the upright. Deep into the last quarter, Combe now have the momentum. James Cameron
chipped towards the corner. Combe’s line-out, big drive, Tom Christopher goes first, then Charlie O’Sullivan, then third up is Jordan Saunders to get the ball over and down. A straightforward conversion for James Cameron
. 25-19. Minutes left. All Combe have to do is play away from their own half and away from danger. Towcester have different ideas and take advantage of their penalty awards from Combe’s mistakes. Well into injury time Towcester pound the Combe try line, looking for a close range score by the posts. Combe defend and defend. The visitors get their try but it is in the left corner making it a difficult kick for a victory. It goes wide. Full time. Audible sighs of relief for Combe and their supporters. Two bonus points some reward for Towcester.
Next week Combe travel to Westcliff, who are towards the other end of the league table. Combe’s next home game is on 20th January, when Sutton and Epsom visit.
Westcombe Park XV: W. Robinson; J. Potter, S. Pursell, B. Hennah, D. Hamilton; J. Cameron, M. Zanirato; J. Saunders, J. Bonner, J. Forsyth, T. Christopher, T. Clarke, R. Hackett, D. Fox, C. O’Sullivan.
Bench: J. Taylor, L. Covington, L. Jackson.
Match reporter - Bruce Mackenzie.