Albion’s Dirtrackers – who were the spare side in the league last week – journeyed to Cheddar for their opening game of the season where they found the home side in excellent form. Cheddar Valley have set out their marker as probably the best side in the league and already favourites for the title.
In the previous week, they had beaten Wyvern 60-5 and their rampant form in this match convinced the early anticipation.
From the start, Cheddar attacked and twice Albion’s right wing Waters was pressed into action and cleverly relieved pressure and kicked upfield. Coates did similarly from a quickly taken penalty to repel another Cheddar attack. The early stages were still even with Albion always doing well at close quarters.
After 15 minutes Albion conceded a penalty which Cheddar kicked to touch and from the resultant line-out a typical catch and drive brought the first try which was converted. Three minutes later, a poor kick from Albion gave Cheddar possession and they spun the ball down their back line to their full-back who dummied over at the posts for a further goal. Cheddar were now running everything and Albion put in some desperate defence, none more so than Williams whose crunching cover tackle on the wing stopped Cheddar’s frivolity for a few minutes.
In the 25th minute Albion lost Burrows and Waters to injury. Three minutes later, Cheddar created a try from a line-out 40 metres out, scoring again at the posts to make the conversion easier and they were now three goals ahead. When Albion secured the ball, they were able to control matters briefly but just before half-time a further flurry from Cheddar gave them a commanding lead. From a penalty on half way, orthodox passing led to their centre bursting through some poor tackling to score. Then Frost put in a remarkable last ditch tackle to prevent a certain Cheddar try but to no avail as a further mis-kick to touch gave Cheddar the impetus to score again right on half time. Both of these tries were converted to give the home side a commanding 35-0 lead.
In the first eight minutes of the second half, Albion’s defeat was compounded as Cheddar ran in three further tries, one of which was converted. Albion’s defence held the first attack after half-time but then a simple blind side move brought Cheddar a further try; straight from the kick-off a Cheddar forward caught the ball and burst through the Albion defence running some 50 metres for his score. Then simple handling and running created sufficient space for a further try. Albion re-gathered briefly but Cheddar scored their next try from long range from a scrum in their own 22, they moved the ball upfield and their centre burst through.
On the hour mark, Cheddar scored their tenth try despite some spirited Albion resistance and a three figure score looked ominous. However, in the remaining quarter Cheddar added three further goals for a convincing victory and on this form, will be a match for anyone. They possess a big side all round the team with a competent mobile pack which can hold its own in both scrum and line-out, but it is in the backs where they shone with the midfield – 10, 12 and 13 always creative, backed up by two strong running wingers and a full-back ready to come into the line at all times.
Albion now need to take stock but with a squad containing five promising Colts – Bertonshaw, Dickinson, Dowden, Williams and Lipscombe – then at least some youthful spirit prevailed. The lack of training and conditioning certainly showed in several instances and a concerted team effort is required to up the ability to stick with the game. The vintage veteran Berry joined the fray in the 61st minute to commence his 48th consecutive season with the club.
In the next match, Albion are at home to Taunton III – another of the high-riding sides in the league and will certainly need some improvement. There is of course a long way to go.
Team: Dickinson; Waters Bertonshaw Rae Dowden; Coates Page; Hicks Buck Frost Burrows Williams Saunders Harbour James. Replacements: (all played) Berry Taylor Miller Lipscombe