Combe beaten in push for precious points
Shelford 27-16 Westcombe Park
With both sides pushing for precious league points to crawl away from the wrong end of the table, this was a vital game to win and perhaps add a bonus. Shelford had home advantage and a large crowd of support, as well as the experience of playing on the ‘All-weather’. Combe’s recent run of good results had been in the mud and rain. Quite the opposite conditions for this encounter: almost warm, still, sunshine, blue skies. Should be a good game.
First blood to Shelford, opening minutes. Penalty knocked over by out-half Josh Simmons. Followed shortly by a try under the posts for winger Charlie Parkhouse, who seemed to have an easy run through the middle after quick ball from a line-out drive. Try converted, 10-0 after barely ten minutes. Work to do. Combe clawed their way back and worked themselves into good positions. Pressure on the home side in the right corner brought a penalty for James Cameron
, and soon after from a line-out in the left corner and several thrusts, Will Robinson
weaved his way over by the posts. James Cameron
converted. All square. They came close again after an interception with David Pohlen
galloping down the touchline, but Shelford managed to cover back but it cost them a yellow card. Will Robinson
almost got through again but a high tackle meant another penalty for James Cameron
. 10-13, closing stages of the half. Combe are finishing it strongly: line-out in the corner, big drive, held out one metre short, Sammy Sema is clean through but stopped with a tap-tackle. One more shot at goal for James Cameron
. Combe go into the break 10-16 up.
At the re-start Combe face the sun as it begins to go down, and for much of the third quarter struggle to get out of their own half. Penalty awards with kicks to touch peg Combe back in the corners. One deceptively long clearance gives Combe brief respite. Shelford have much of the play but up against sound defence do not look like scoring, their best opportunity spilled on the wing. Neither do Combe look like scoring. They cannot establish good position let alone break through the home defence. Shelford’s pressure begins to tell into the last quarter. A penalty in front of the posts is put over by Josh Simmons, another soon after gives them a line-out in the left corner. The first of many short range thrusts are thwarted until eventually Luke Mongston barges over for a converted try. Combe are behind, 20-16, and time is beginning to run out. The pace picks up, attack and counter-attack. A speculative chip ahead behind Combe’s defence finds a kindly bounce for winger Charlie Parkhouse to gather and saunter round to the posts, much to the delight of the home crowd. Try converted, 27-16. Only minutes left. Combe camp in the Shelford twenty-two, they have scrums, line-outs and penalty awards, Shelford go a man short again, but Combe just cannot break them down. Full time. Shelford have the precious points, and Combe for all their efforts, in a game closer than the score might suggest have to go home empty handed.
It’s another week off next Saturday. Combe’s next fixture is at home to Hertford on 3rd March. Kick-off is scheduled for 2.30pm, but check the web-site before to be sure. Another tough game, large numbers in support needed.
Westcombe Park XV: W. Robinson; D. Hamilton, C. Deschamps, B. Hennah, I. Sema; J. Cameron, M. Zanirato; N. Porter, J. Bonner, J. Forsyth, T. Clarke, C. Springer, D. Pohlen, J. Lindfield, C. O’Sullivan.
Bench: J. Saunders, T. Christopher, R. Smith.
Match reporter: Bruce Mackenzie.