Combe seal a bonus point win in the closing minutes with White scoring a hat-trick
Westcombe Park RFC 24-22 Hertford RFC
WPRFC secured what might prove to be a vital win as a game played in
freezing conditions approached its close. The hardy few who braved the
snow and wind had witnessed a pretty absorbing match and all credit must
go to both sets of players who put on a display of rugby which belied
the temperatures, especially Combe's Rob White who scored a hat-trick of
try's. Credit also to the volunteers who cleared the lines of snow to
allow the match to go ahead.
A minute's silence was observed before kick off to mark the passing of
Lew Barnett who had served the club in many roles over the years. He is
already sadly missed.
Hertford were first to get their foot on the gas. From good scrum
possession the visitors' three quarters moved the ball down the line for
full back Taylor to move through a gap and score. The conversion was
On the 10 minute mark Combe made their first serious impact on the
match. Nathan Thomas got the ball just inside Hertford's and thundered
through around half a dozen attempts to stop him. Hertford then
infringed a couple of times in the red zone with a yellow card being
shown for killing the ball. Combe made good use of territory and
possession, feeding centre Rob White who stepped outside the cover to
score the first of his three. James Cameron put Combe in the lead 7-5
with the conversion.
For the next 15 minutes play moved to and fro around midfield as both
sides sought to gain the upper hand. Any Hertford progress was stopped
by some juddering tackles from Thomas backed up by James Lindfield. But
Hertford pressure started to tell and, after gaining a foothold in the
Combe 22, the ball was switched first left and then right to allow
stand-off Seymour to give the visitors the lead. Again the conversion
was missed which meant Combe were still in touching distance at 7-10.
There was a zip to Hertford's passing which was met with a hard-edged
Combe defence. That edge was a wee bit too abrasive and Combe went down
to 13 men for a couple of yellows for offside and a late tackle
respectively. The zip in Hertford's attack also became a bit too fancy
with one singularly inappropriate pass for the weather conditons
dribbling forward and putting the kybosh on a good scoring opportunity.
The half ended with Hertford maintaining their lead at 7-10.
The weather worsened in the 2nd half with the snowfall heavier and the
wind picking up. Hertford wing Allen warmed the visiting fans with a
weaving run which exposed gaps in the Combe defensive line to score an
unconverted try. 7-15 to the visitors. Combe pulled back a try on 48
minutes with well worked interplay between the half-backs resulting in a 2nd
try for the impressive Rob White to bring Combe to within 3 points.
Hertford stormed back up and manufactured a 22 metre driving maul which
Combe collapsed to prevent a certain score. The referee had no real
option but to award a penalty try and a yellow card to Combe. Hertford
had eased away that little bit more, opening a 10 point cushion for the
first time in the match.
However it was the visitors turn to feel the brunt of the pressure. As
the game entered the final quarter winger Dan Hamilton continued his fine
vein of form with an unconverted try. From line out ball he exposed a
narrowness in the Hertford defence to cross the line. There then
followed some heavy WPRFC attacks which Hertford could only stem by
nefarious means and it was their turn to defend two men down. Charlie
O'Sullivan and Jamie Forsyth were to the fore with the latter being held
up as he tried to crash over. The Hertford defender who managed this is
probably still feeling the effects.
But with full-time fast approaching Combe called on their last reserves,
managed to run through at least ten phases in the Hertford 22 and
finally released the backs for hat-trick hero White to cut a great line
to score the bonus point try. Nerves of steel were needed from Cameron
for the conversion but he passed the test with flying colours to let
Combe squeak through.
A great result for Westcombe Park and a wonderful contribution from the
visitors who could so easily have been the victors. Combe still need
results elsewhere to go their way if they are to stay up. Given this
performance it is clear and obvious the whole squad and officials are
doing their utmost.
Westcombe Park: Robinson, Hamilton, Thomas, Bonner, Simmons, White, Cameron, Saunders, Bonner, Forsyth, Clarke, Christopher, O'Sullivan, Lindfield, Springer
Replacements: Onwuka, Milligan, Pursell.
Match Report :John Vallely