Anyone visiting Cheddar Valley’s Sharpham Road ground in early September may have thought that they were watching a cricket match as the score escalated beyond three figures. Hence the eagerly awaited (by Cheddar only) and long delayed return match would confirm the progress of the runaway league leaders and whether Albion had improved. The answer was easy to see – Cheddar Valley played with considerable aplomb throughout and showed why they are the rampant leaders and whom this year have probably already secured deserved promotion; Albion on the other hand have battled well – it was perhaps a pity from their point of view that the games in the mud and water of the last few weeks have been postponed as on a firmer pitch Cheddar displayed their full range of skills but not without encountering some sterling Albion opposition.
Albion once again rang the changes, this time incorporating several Weston-Super-Mare players who adopted the “have kit will play” rules which abound in this league.
Cheddar set out their stall early on with a long drive and in the fourth minute crossed the line but an earlier knock-on denied them. Albion showed some intent by spinning Cheddar’s scrum but clearly illegally as a penalty was awarded against them. Cheddar’s first two scores in the tenth and fifteenth minutes owed more to Albion’s mistakes than their own endeavours. Firstly an Albion penalty to touch missed and the visitors ran the ball back and one of their forwards went in; then Albion put themselves under pressure by passing the ball backwards twice and Cheddar’s stand-off sliced through and set up a further try. Four minutes later Cheddar’s pack rumbled to the line and any one of six players could have scored – one did. Five minutes later, Albion at last made Cheddar work hard for their next try with some good tackling but Cheddar created the overlap to score wide out. Immediately Albion conceded a free kick for a crooked feed and Cheddar quickly took the kick and moved wide to score. Fortunately for Albion Cheddar’s kicker was placed in some awkward spots and had failed to land the conversions of the first five tries but he made amends in the 32nd minute when Cheddar again moved the ball well to score their sixth try which this time was converted, as was another just before half time when good concerted handling from 60 metres out rounded off the first half with the score line at 0-39.
Cheddar continued the deluge in the early part of the second half when a fine scissors between their stand-off and centre resulted in the latter crossing and in the 51st minute Cheddar ran the ball back from their own 22 for a long-range try which was converted. Albion then finally put Cheddar on defensive duties. Firstly Norman took on a quick penalty and almost crashed over and Cheddar held thrusts by Gibson and Burrows. However the visitors relieved such pressure with a long run out of defence. Between the 65th and the 69th minutes Cheddar scored three more tries before Albion got to grips yet again. However their brave efforts petered out and in the last four minutes Cheddar ran in two further tries to bring the score to a round 80 – a substantial difference in the score line from the away match but nevertheless a lesson in how to use the ball effectively throughout.
Albion will be pleased to see the passing of Cheddar Valley into the next league up where Albion’s 2nd XV will encounter them next season – that should make for a more even contest. In the meantime, the Dirtrackers need to concentrate on their remaining matches which now gives them a full programme to the end of the season due to the earlier postponed matches.
Team: Walford; Knott Dickinson WSM guest WSM guest; Coates Page Gibson Rae Buck Hobbs Burrows Nash (WSM) Norman Ruddle. Replacements – all used – Berry Goddard Innalls and WSM guest.