The Wanderers are league champions! Having not played for four weeks this was areal test for the match day squad of 27 but the mission was simple, a bonus point win for the league title.
Ben Warwicker went some way to calming any nerves inside the first 5 minutes crashing over for a trademark try. James Devlin took over the kicking duties and duly converted the score.
Hat-tricks have been something of a regular feature in the Wanderers games this season and this was a great game to record the next one. James Tolman finishing off some fine handling and support play to register his first of the day which was not converted. The rugby in the first 20 minutes was fast and very aggressive and Winscombe were incredibly hard to break down, truly a top of the table game.
Winscombe got on the score sheet with a penalty to take the score to 12-3 before JamesTolman picked up his second try, again excellent handling and support running from forwards and backs alike combined to great effect.
However,with a 4 week gap between games match fitness was always going to be an issue and Winscombe were excellent at spreading the ball fast and wide through their backs, and with pace to burn out wide the Wanderers backs were working over time to scramble the defence. Eventually Winscombe got their reward picking up their first try of the game. The try wasn’t converted, and the half time score was 19-8.
The bench started to come into the game. It’s never easy joining a fast paced physical game but every player was more than up to the task and the forwards continued to take the game to Winscombe. A series of scrums on the Winscombe 5 metre line saw infringement after infringement, which was lucky for number 8 James Tolman who was butchering chance after chance but eventually he got one to stick and some great work from the pack saw Tolman pick up his hat-trick try, and the try bonus point, again converted by James Devlin.
A head injury to Olly Tolman saw Robbie Miller take the reins at 10 who proceeded to have the game of his life. The Taunton supporters were quickly playing “Miller Bingo” having seen offloads, side steps, tackles and 50 yard spiral kicks…even a conversion after Jake Foster broke through the line to register an excellent score – especially given the amount of pressure the backs had been on and continued to be on from Winscombe.
By this point the bench had been emptied and the pack had been fully changed. Something obviously went wrong with the logistics as Taunton had three hookers in the squad but when a line out was won 5 metres out prop Baz Lockyer ended up throwing in with all three hookers off the pitch at the time…..the line out was not successful….and a fine to pay for the coaches!
The final score for Taunton was another trademark moment for Neil Symons. Choosing a great line in support Symo slid through the Winscombe defence like a flat fish but rather than scoring himself set up Finbar Anderson for his first senior try having stepped up from the colts last season. Robbie Miller added another conversion…everyone on the sidelines was rubbing their eyes in disbelief!
Huge credit to Winscombe who ended the scoring picking up a converted try to make the final score 40-15 to Taunton. Right up until the last whistle the game was intense,physical and fast but it was with great relief and celebration that the final whistle was greeted. A great effort and very deserving league champions with two games still left to go. A week off and then we travel to Wiveliscombe before welcoming Morganians to the Commsplus for the final game on the 13thApril.