It was always going to be a tough game against a team who were unbeaten so far this season, and so it proved…but what a game it was! It as a club day at Cheddar who were excellent hosts and a good crowd was on hand to witness a hard fought and fast paced game.
The Wanderers welcomed back several players into the squad showing the depth in the squad, and from the first whistle the game was an arm wrestle fiercely contested. Both teams trying to punch holes but the defences were winning the day. The hosts got the first points on the board with a penalty kick only for Tom Sargent to level the scores at his second attempt.The Wanderers lost both second rows Ben Warwicker and Shane Jordan with injuries and the versatility of the squad was in full effect as players moved between back row, second row and centre.
The 3-3 score at half time certainly didn’t reflect the quality of the game, or the intensity, and the second half started just as fast as the first half. Once again it was the hosts who scored first, this time through a converted try and followed up with another penalty kick, and were looking good value for the 13-3 advantage mid-way in the second half. But the Wanderers weren’t done yet and pressed the button on the rugby that has seen two consecutive promotions in the past two seasons.
The whole pack were carrying relentlessly continually putting the Cheddar defence to the test and were starting to punch holes, when the ball was spread wide the backs joined and it was the Wanderers next to score, a fine move finished off wide out by Harry on the wing. We were all surprised to see Sarge knock over the conversion from the touchline…none more so that the referee who didn’t believe it so much that at first it wasn’t given. 13-10 and a grandstand finish was on the cards.
With a dominant set piece it didn’t help the cause for the Wanderers that the game had to move to uncontested scrums, but it did mean there was more energy for carries in the loose. Both teams had now used all their bench due to injury replacements, Fred Parrish becoming the third injury replacement for the Taunton forwards following a stinger in his shoulder. It is a shame that the regulations don’t allow for a larger bench, this game certainly didn’t deserve to end with uncontested scrums and players playing on with niggles knowing there were no more subs available.
As the Wanderers attached from their own half some fine defensive work from Cheddar saw a fumbled pass picked up and they streaked clear to score what proved to be the decisive try and conversion.
The final score was 20-10 and although Taunton deserved to come away with at least a losing bonus point, if not more, the game was excellent through-out and played with good spirit. Taunton welcome Chew Valley to the Towergate Stadium next week and know that as long as these performances carry on with the energy, enjoyment and passion that we have shown, the results will come.