The fifteen included Rob Beaumont who came to watch the previous Saturday and said he would come for 20 minutes not having played for two and a half years following knee surgery.
Still the 15 made it to Watton and Aaron decided who would play where and Rob was thrilled to hear his 20 minutes could extend to the full 80. The lack of replacements meant that Tony had to run the line, carry on the kicking tee and water and administer first aid. Who says men can’t multitask?
The rain that fell all the way to Watton stopped as we arrived and we were faced with a decent playing surface and a flat pitch. Watton had 21 players so we knew they would have fresh legs as the game wore on. On the plus side we were considerably younger and fitter but could not afford to lose anyone for whatever reason.
The first half was pretty even but Jimmy Goodliffe took a hit to the head and sensibly moved to full back to lessen the risk of further injury. We soon settled down but struggled to get out of our own half but equally Watton found us difficult to break down. Rob at scrum half had been told to keep it simple and just move the ball away from scrum, ruck and maul. After 25 minutes Watton had a player sin binned but we were unable to take advantage although a couple of good runs down the right flank from Alex Holdsworth and Sam Rossi looked promising but the cover tackling was good. There was a brief skirmish off the ball and Tony M adopted another role. Peacemaker. That is to say he told the team not to do anything stupid, in a very loud voice. Under pressure in our own 22 an attempted box kick went awry and Watton drove over to score an unconverted try so by half time we were five points adrift.
Refreshed by water and oranges and a revised plan we started the second half on the front foot.and within three minutes had taken the lead. A kick out of defence went deep into the Watton half, George Rossi organised the chase, three abreast. A Watton defender who had a team mate either side hesitated and was nailed by George, the ball was dislodged and Seb Roberts picked it up and ran in to score under the bar, Sam Rossi converting. This gave us a big boost and we continued to press with Dom Roberts doing his usual impression of a demolition contractor’s big ball, charging into the opposition and making good yards. The set pieces were going well with and although we were conceding weight, scrimmaging well.
The well rehearsed line outs were going well with Webby and Jason winning a lot of ball. The lead was extended when another chase turned over the ball which came loose and Alex Holdsworth went about 40 meters to score and Simon added the extras. Dom R caused a brief hold up when he put his head where he shouldn’t and had to have tape wrapped round it to stem the blood. We were pressing hard but could not break down the Watton defence. There was another hold up when Seb R went in search of some tape for his fingers, (he disclosed on Sunday that one of them was dislocated). Henry Hunt took a knock to the head but carried on as did Simon Hayward. In the last few minutes Watton turned the screw and pressured our linebut the defence held until the final play of the game when they drove over between the posts and the conversion was the final kick of the game.
This was a really gutsy performance and under ordinary circumstances replacements would have been rolled on and off but no one complained and were justifiably pleased with the result. Back in the changing room we sent the score to Scottow but could not get the Vikings result until most players had departed, but it had been a good day for the club.