Rugeley 22 Wheats 37: A Game of 2 halves
By Gareth Windsor
Wheats through to next round of the RFU Junior Vase.
The Old Wheats looked to carry on their perfect start to the season with a tough trip to Rugeley RFC in the 2nd round of the RFU Junior Vase. Both teams have took maximum points from 4 league games so far this season, which set a very tasty looking cup tie.
The Wheats boys were slightly taken aback by Rugeley's pitch on arrival. A small and very narrow pitch was not what the boys are used to. Rugeley, who are top of Midlands 4 West (North), have rarely lost at their own ground in previous years. Wheats expected a tight up front battle from the home side.
Wheats started the game the much stronger side with some great hard running and breaking the game line early on. The referee was strict at the breakdown and awarded Wheats 3 or 4 penalties in the opening minutes, which Wheats took quickly to keep the pressure on the home side. Within the opening 5 minutes Andy Haughian crashed his way over in the corner, for his 3rd try of the season, after some brilliant build up play.
The rest of the half really didn't go the Wheats way. Rugeley really showed why they are such a hard team to beat with some hard carries at the fringes and down the blind side. The home side scored 3 tries, 2 conversions and a penalty to take a well deserved lead into the break.
The Wheats hadn't fronted up in defence like previous weeks and struggled to maintain the ball at times. Strong carries from Charlie Hands, Ronan Jones and others didn't end in scorers for the Wheats. An injury to try scorer Andy Haughian meant Ryan Mc Sorely joined the back row mid way through the first half.
Some harsh words from a far from happy coach Cheeks really woke the Wheats up. Straight from kick off Wheats gained possession and took it to Rugeley. Some intense pressure in the opening minutes of the 2nd half, resulted in a second try for Wheats. Some huge line breaks and carries from the forwards allowed space for the backs. Charlie Hands smashed his way through a couple of defenders to score a much needed score out wide. Gareth Windsor hit the the woodwork with conversion but Wheats were back in the game and looking strong!!!
Wheats carried on the pressure straight after the restart. Ronan Jones, Ryan McSorely making hard yards in the loose with the boys winning clean and fast ball for replacement scrum half Richard Lowe to feed the dangerous and hungry backline. A couple of minutes after the last try, returning hard running back row Ronan Jones tore through the defence to get his first Wheats try of the season. Wheats had the kick up the backside they needed at halftime and were only score down within 5 minutes of the break. Gareth Windsor added the 2.
More Wheats dominance in the opening minutes of the 2nd half created a 4th try of the afternoon. clark mccallum was calling the shots at 10 and putting hard runners through gaps. Half breaks from the brothers of mass destruction Charlie and Ben Hands, Gareth Windsor and Ronan Jones were causing all sorts of problems for Rugeley. Camped in the 22 it was only a matter of time before Charlie Hands bundled his way over for his 2nd of the game and put Wheats level.
Wheats weren't allowing the home side any time on ball and were causing chaos at the breakdown. Man of the Match Ryan McSorely secured turnover after turnover for the Wheats. Ronan Jones nearly put Wheats ahead with an outrageous solo run from his own half, only to be denied by the referee penalising him for double movement on the try line. Wheats scrum was strong again with front 3 Aaron Graham, Richard Saunders and Liam McCrea really putting a shift in setting great platforms for Wheats to work. Speedster Jamie Hutton was also denied a fine try in the corner from the lino's flag. His disappointment didn't last long as he dotted down in the corner for his 5th of the season. Windsor added the 2 from the touchline.
Even though Wheats were in front they kept the pressure up and looked dangerous. Some great work from the forwards and some BIG running lines from captain Liam McCrea created hard yards. One loose pass found its way into Rugeley's scrum half hands, who intercepted the ball inside his own 22. He had a clear run into the line as Wheats were all out attack, or so he thought. Out of no where fullback Jamie Hutton raced after the tiring No.9 and made one of the greatest try saving tackles ever to be seen just a couple of metres out! Winger Steve Pahal was in support of Hutton who between them managed to turn the ball over and clear Wheats lines to a huge roar from the Wheats travelling support!
Wheats settled themselves again and attacked with venom. Replacement winger Ross Harrison, making his first appearance of the season, carried hard and made metres. Some good build up play set up the try that really killed Rugeley's hopes. Jamie Hutton was put in beautifully, by fly half clark mccallum, for his 2nd of the game.
A solid take from the restart from second row James Fisher allowed Wheats to control the game for the closing minutes. A couple of penalties gave Wheats great territory and allowed Gareth Windsor to slot a penalty in the closing minutes to see Wheats over the line.
Huge credit must go to Rugeley for a fantastic contest and for sure the Wheats toughest test of the season. We wish Rugeley all the best in their promotion push this season!
A true game of two halves after racing out the blocks with an early try we were 22-5 down at half time. After half time we finally held onto the ball for sustained periods and scored 32 unanswered points.
The key battle was the collisions in the first half we were to passive letting them run at us in the second half we went and met them. We also cut out our mistakes gifting them possession in crucial areas.
I was delighted we could get 2 winning squads out on Saturday.
Let's keep the momentum rolling at training Wednesday !!
Matthew 'Cheeks' Cappell
Wheats march on to round 3 of the RFU Junior Vase which will be played in a few weeks. I believe its 6 games away from the final at Twickenham!!!
We face a tough Kings Norton side this Saturday at the Stade.
UP THE WHEATS