DIRTRACKERS HOLD ON WELL IN REARRANGED FIXTURE
Three weeks ago these sides were 12-12 at half-time when the game was abandoned due to an injury to Albion’s Goddard. Fortunately, the player has made a good recovery and is already in training and with further physio, hopes to return to action on 15 February.
On a similarly damp and windy day and on a very stodgy surface at one of the Hornets’ out grounds, the sides finally completed the fixture. Albion welcomed Richards back into the centre and were boosted by the inclusion of several of last season’s Colts who have shown considerable promise and are making their way through the club’s senior XV’s. The team was led by Buck for the first time in the absence of the injured captain Innalls and deputy Frost.
Albion immediately took the game to Hornets with Ward, Coates and Richards especially prominent. Burtenshaw – playing in the centre – handled and distributed well throughout and created some space for Knott but the winger was just held. From the resulting loose play Buck picked up and crashed over. Hornets immediately hit back from the kick-off but good Albion defence kept them at bay.
Albion’s forwards well led by Buck and substantially assisted by the experienced Gibson, were more than holding their own against the bulky and older Hornets eight. The youthful exuberance of Lipscombe and Satchell enabled Albion to make considerable inroads. Gibson however was yellow-carded in the 31st minute and immediately Hornets drove a scrum and whilst their No. 8 missed the pick-up to score, the stand-off popped in to pick up the ball to score. This try was well-converted to give Hornets a narrow lead. Albion were somewhat undeterred and came back strongly with Burtonshaw and Satchell carving out a good opening. From the loose play Page smartly broke around the blind side to give Albion a narrow 10-7 lead at half-time.
The early second half proceedings ambled into a scrappy midfield affair. Coates was injured in a clear foul play incident which was unfortunately undetected. In the 52nd minute, Hornets moved the ball well across their line to score their second try and to take a 12-10 lead. On the hour mark, Hornets took advantage of a penalty and after three quick thrusts they released a player to score a further try which was converted and to extend their lead. Five minutes later, Albion retorted yet again by spreading the ball wide and first Taylor almost broke clear but Gibson, having returned to the fray, picked up and forced his way over. Hornets countered and almost got over but they were held up. Albion pressed strongly in the closing stages but could not just claw back the narrow deficit.
This was an encouraging all round performance in testing conditions and everyone played their part. Ward at the back was continually elusive and always played on the gain line; Richards and Burtenshaw handled and ran well in the middle, creating some space and Knott and Barnett may not see as much of the ball on a dry day as they did in these sticky conditions; Coates stuck at his hard task manfully and was the victim of some heavy tackling but somewhat survived. Page moved the ball well if erratically at times but showed his skills with his speed around the breakdowns. Gibson, Rae and Satchell were a marauding back row and Buck and Lipscombe tackled everything in sight from the second row. Up front, Ruddle, Walker and Moulding more than held their own against heavier opponents and they were supplemented by the introduction of Dale Walker later on to maintain the momentum. Smith came on to use his left foot to some advantage and Taylor was his usual jack in the box self as a replacement wing.
This performance will have given Albion some considerable confidence to visit Minehead Barbarians on 8 February, seeking their first double of the season.
Team: Ward; Knott Richards Burtenshaw Barnett; Coates Page; Gibson Rae Satchell Buck Lipscombe Ruddle T Walker Moulding. Replacements: Used – Smith Taylor D Walker. Unused – Berry Lock.
Scorers – Tries: Buck Page Gibson.