Reeds Injuries Take their Toll
WINCHESTER 30 REEDS WEYBRIDGE 27
Reeds paid their first visit to Winchester with hopes of collecting five league points to pile the pressure on Tottonians the league leaders, they came away with just two points via their four tries and losing bonus. One of the certainties in rugby is that a town side will always field a big set of forwards, Winchester, didn’t disappoint, their forward dominance, especially in the lineout produced good quality possession that had Reeds locked into their 22 in defensive mode for long periods. The opening score came from a lineout, Winchester won the ball inside the 22, Reeds disengaged and Winchester needing no second invitation rumbled forwards with some slick forward offloads to score and it was a seven pointer under the sticks. The strong gusting wind didn’t help Reeds expansive style but once they did get their hands on the ball they looked sharp and incisive, with real pace in the midfield, quick hands from young debutant Ethan Taylor, following a great touch finding kick by Reeds, gave winger Joe Moriarty just enough space to crash over in the corner for an unconverted try – 7 – 5. The restart went badly wrong however with the ball held up in the wind, the possession was knocked forward, a Reeds player collected the ball from an off-side position and it was three-point penalty shot in front of the sticks to make it 10 – 5. Reeds in possession always looked dangerous, Alex Corner Reeds No 8, bursting off the loose play is a real handful, he attacked deep in the red zone, he was checked just short of the line but Joe Wastie was there to take the pop pass for a seven pointer, it was a two-point lead from limited possession. Reeds were having a real battle up front but they had a serious set-back when they lost their influential ball carrying second row forward Dieter Kerschbaumer, to injury. The Winchester pack were now having the best of the territory and forward exchanges, with Reeds missing 4 of their usual starting front 5, and they set up camp in Reeds 22 with a series of rucks and mauls driving ever closer to the Reeds line and eventually rumbling over for a converted try making it 17 – 12. Shortly before the break, Reeds were on the score sheet again, it was Alex Corner Reeds No. 8 who accelerated away from a loose ruck to score under the posts with Reeds once again taking a two-point lead at 19 – 17. Just before the break there were yellow cards for both sides, Reeds conceded another penalty and it was a simple three-point kick to give Winchester a 20 – 19 lead at the change round.
Now the town side had the wind in their favour, banging the ball down into Reeds territory and pounding the Reeds line, they came so close, with one sprint for the line and it was Alex Corner just winning the race to save a certain try. Just after the restart, Reeds lost Ollie Palmer their talismanic scrum half to injury, Reeds have a talented bench of replacements but when matters were as finely balanced as they were last Saturday, it was a serious loss to contend with. The third quarter belonged to Winchester territorially but Reeds forwards in particular stood up to be counted and defended stoutly and their try line wasn’t breached despite a few close shaves. By now Pete Davidge had entered the fray and he slotted a penalty for a two-point lead, but back came Winchester with a penalty in front of the posts to regain the one-point advantage. There was a frenetic last quarter, Winchester scored what proved to be the decisive score, a seven-pointer following another rumbling maul to take the score to 22 – 30 with 8 minutes left. Reeds were now attacking via their backs and stretched Winchester to breaking point with Tudor Forbes in the midfield, central to Reeds attacks, he gained his Man of the Match Award for his penetrating midfield runs, it was his quick hands that fired the ball away to young Ethan Taylor who dived into score just by the flag. 27 – 30 with 4 minutes left. Reeds were now on the march and they were awarded a straightforward penalty in front of the posts that would have drawn the game but Reeds wanted a try to win the game and collect five league points. A scrum was called and some good back play again saw winger Joe Moriarty receive the ball 10 meters from the try line, he jinked back against the grain in heavy traffic and looked to be about to score only to have the ball dislodged from his arms by a final last ditch Winchester tackle and it was all over.
Head Coach Connell said afterwards that he couldn’t fault any of the players for their efforts and that injuries sustained especially during the game to key players had checked progress and made the task of winning that much harder against well-drilled opponents playing at home.
There will be a big crowd down at Whiteley Village next Saturday with a special lunch to celebrate the achievements of Reeds Weybridge 1981 unbeaten side, followed by the final league game of the season against Eastleigh.
George Spinks March 20 2022