One of the best outcomes from promotions in previous seasons has been the re-introduction of local derby matches and this match certainly lived up to the billing. Injuries and unavailability have been a headline factor for the Wanderers through-out the first half of the season and with two players making their first appearance of the season for the Wanderers, the list who have played for the Wanderers in 9 matches shows great testament to the spirit, versatility and depth of the squad.
It was the hosts who opened the scoring in this games with a well-executed backs move exploiting space wide out, which was to become a theme of the game, and despite the conversion going wide Wellington were good value for the early lead. Not to be out-done Taunton hit back with a score from James Marney playing in the back row. A well worked passage of off-loading inter play between Marney, James Dean and Wayne Wiltshire had many wiping a misty eyed tear of nostalgia away, Tom Sargent successfully kicking the conversion.
The Wanderers lost winger James Devlin to a cut above the eye and Wellington immediately took advantage of the re-shuffled Taunton backline, a cross field kick being gathered on the full for a well taken score to mean Wellington held a 10-7 lead at the interval.
Taunton immediately struck after the break, the forwards taking advantage of some space on the fringes of the breakdown to pick and drive up the field and Mark Evans finished well for the visitors second try of the day which was again converted by Sargent. A penalty kick by Sargent soon after extended the Taunton lead to 10-17 before Sarge was forced off with an arm injury, ending a fine day at blindside. Evs then scored his second and Taunton’s third try of the day, the conversion going wide. Taunton had the better of the forwards exchanges in the loose finding spaces at the fringes whilst Wellington were making good use of the space out wider for their backs,the game was shaping up for a grandstand finish..and so it proved!
Wellington scored their third try of the game out wide before Harry Gutteridge and Dan Hinton broke excellently down the touchline and after some fine interplay Harry completely missed the ball with his hands (he will say it was tactical) and the ball came off his knee and as it was rolling through the in goal area he managed to catch it up and dot down for the bonus point try, the conversion again going wide but with fifteen minutes left the score was 15-27.
Another cut eye for Taunton, this time for Evs meant are shuffle again and after some sustained forwards pressure in the scrum Wellington threw the ball wide for a converted try to bring them within 5 points and to secure their deserved bonus point. Then fittingly with 5 minutes left Wellington scored again out wide to tie the game up at 27-27. Both sides had chances to win the game with conversions and penalty kicks going wide but it would have been a hard pill for either side to come out of this excellent game with defeat, a draw being a fair reflection of a hard, uncompromising local derby.