Combe's first away trip ends with a loss
By Mark Ley
Thurrock 32-22 Westcombe Park
Frustration for players, coaching staff and travelling fans as Combe's trip across the river fell flat. Despite scoring three tries and looking
dangerous when they turned the home team's defence, Westcombe Park coughed up too much possession and territory through a string of
penalties. Being marched back 10 metres a couple of times for loose tongues as well as 3 yellow cards didn't help the cause. It has to be
said that Thurrock were that wee bit more streetwise and were quicker to get a grip of the referee's predelictions of how he wanted the breakdown managed.
Thurrock eased to a 13 point lead through 2 penalties after which Combe received their first yellow card for a no arms tackle. This came shortly
after a penalty for a high tackle which was part of an unfortunate theme throughout the afternoon. Down to fourteen men Combe's defence was initially resolute both at the initial maul and scrum, but pressure told in the end and Thurrock crossed on the right for a converted try.
Injuries and the yellow card meant that Combe had to reconstruct their scrum with Dave Vallely making his debut in the front row and Dan
Hamilton helping out on the flank. Finally, after 27 minutes, WPRFC got on the scoreboard when James Cameron struck the penalty after TRFC had been spotted by the referee straying offside in the centre.
Combe were finally threatening in the right areas of the field. A penalty for a Thurrock offside was kicked for the corner, hooker Onwuka
threw in accurately and, although the initial attack broke down, Cameron was able to kick through for Deschamps to score an unconverted try. With the break approaching it looked like Combe would go in with only a 5 point deficit but in the closing moments a scrum penalty was conceded which was duly slotted over by Thurrock.
Half time Thurrock RFC 16-8 Westcombe Park RFC
The second half couldn't have started better for Combe with a score within a minute of the whistle. Combe full back Matt Harrison launched a kick which the Thurrock defence couldn't deal with, Milligan was the provider as he received the ball and provided a delicious cross field kick which Hamilton collected on his wing and raced in and under the posts giving James Cameron the simplest of conversions. Combe were now in touching distance at 16-15.
Thurrock kept their noses in front with another penalty when Combe were pinged for crossing around the 22 metre line. The final quarter had
just started when Combe's travelling support had their hopes raised when Deschamps scored his second try. Thurrock move the ball through their centre and Ant Hitchcock line up his man and forced his prone opposite number to lose the ball backwards in the tackle, Cassius Deschamps was on hand to hack the ball on into space and he won the foot race to the ball, dribbling to the 5 meter line where he picked up and fell over the line to complete his brace. The conversion was slotted to give Combe a three point advantage.
The lead lasted only a couple of minutes when Combe were doubly penalised for a high tackle with a yellow card being added to the
penalty. The match was all square at 22 points each with just over 15 minutes to go.
However Combe went down to 13 men with their third yellow card of the match for preventing a quick tap in the red zone. Combe held the
attacking scrum but the extra men counted in the end and the homeside scored a converted try to lead 29-22 with just over 5 minutes to go.
Combe might have had the consolation of a losing bonus point but on the stroke of full time another kickable penalty was conceded. It was duly scored to give the homeside a ten point win.
A game then for Combe to reflect on given a very ugly negative penalty count. Tackling technique issues and the need to be as adaptable as
opponents in understanding officials' idiosyncrasies might be on the agenda midweek. Thurrock were understandably pleased with the win after their opening loss to Sevenoaks.
Next week Combe welcome London Cornish to Goddington Dene for a 3.00 pm kick off.
Westcombe Park RFC : Fernandez, Onwuka, Simmons, Eames, Delderfield,
Pohlen, Milligan, O'Sullivan, Smith, Cameron, Saffrey, Hitchcock,
Deschamps, Hamilton, Harrison.
Replacements: Vallely, Pass, Livett
Match Report: John Vallely