Match Report: Westcombe Park 12 – 14 TWRFC
Wells faced Combe in this second pre- season practice game knowing that the S London side had been unlucky to be relegated from London and SE Premier last season and in the knowledge that they had lost the league fixture in very wet conditions by a point at Goddington Dene last campaign.
Wells fielded a number of new faces from last week with Stuart Nicholls at hooker, Josh Hawkins in the second row, James Farris at 6, Dave Allen at 7, Charlie Rigby at 9, James Potter on the wing, Ryan Taylor Dennehy at full back and Ollie Allman and James Lautch on the bench.The game started in good weather with the home side dominating possession but Wells showing sharpness and ambition in the counter attack. This brought them the first points on 7 minutes. Dave Allen put in a big hit to thwart Combe on the right and Wells recycled the ball to Mike Doherty on the Wells 22. Doherty got the ball away to Richard Webster with some 50 metres to go and he made no mistake with a difficult finish with Frank Taylor adding the points 0-7.
In general Wells were demonstrating a tight defence but on 15 minutes after they had failed to secure their own line out ball the scores were even as after a long pass the Combe right wing went in for a converted score 7-7.The game continued in the same vein with Jake Smith putting in a 40metre gain on the left before Combe taking advantage of the possession they were retaining rolled a maul close to the line for their No 6 to score the try which was significantly unconverted 12-7.
The rest of the half saw Wells gaining ascendancy in the scrums, with both sides defending well with the turbo charged Allen everywhere and Webster, Doherty and particularly Smith putting in some big tackles in the backs. This gave Wells a higher percentage of the ball but it was still the art of the counter attack which saw them draw ahead on 29 minutes as the ball was moved left by Nick Doherty to the returning Ryan Taylor – Dennehy who made 40metres before switching the ball inside to the supporting Mike Doherty who scored near the posts for Frank Taylor to convert. 12-14.
This remained the score until halftime when both sides found themselves a man down due to yellow cards.
Halftime saw a total change as heavy rain swept the field and made conditions difficult. Combe started the half better but Wells put on pressure on the home line between the 55 th and 65 th minutes earning a number of penalties as they dominated in the scrum. At anytime they could have opted for the three points and in a league game they would have taken them. However, despite getting within a metre on several occasions the only winner was the heavy rain as the surface and the ball became very slippery. Eventually Combe broke out aided by a number of their own penalties and despite both sides launching further attacks and Wells dominating the set pieces the score remained the same until the end of a game where the weather had played an unpredictable part.
Wells head coach Simon Whatling and his coaching team were pleased with a hard work out and the introduction of a range of new players and Academy products as they work towards the first league game at home to Hertford this Saturday KO 3 00 pm. A new look back line worked well at times with Charlie Rigby setting them in motion at scrum half and with fellow Academy products Webster, Smith and Potter blending in well. The scrummage was also a big plus point and the only area to work on in the set pieces will be some of the line out organisation. The defensive game was solid from forwards and backs with Allen and Smith outstanding.
Squad: Ben Williams, Stuart Nicholls, Luke Hawkins, Brendan Crosilla, Carl Straeche, Chris Pentney,Josh Hawkins, James Farris, James Lautch, Dave Allen, Nick Doherty, Charlie Rigby, Frank Reynolds, Ollie Allman, Jake Smith, Mike Doherty, Richard Webster, James Potter, Ryan Taylor- Dennehy.