The Dirtrackers’ newly found strength and cohesion well amplified by a full side training on Thursday, showed the benefits of that with a good display in a comfortable victory at Wellington. The side is now developing a delightful blend of youth and experience, boosted by the inclusion of several Colts from the last few seasons. Indeed, three such players – Payne, Jordan Buller and Shaw – were making their Dirtrackers’ debuts and all contributed well. The seasoned Ranson came in at scrum-half to partner young Payne and they produced a good platform and link between forwards and backs.
In the opening minutes a half break from Payne nearly sent Kerry through. Albion had the benefit of the slight slope and kept the home side in their 22. Such was the pressure that Wellington lost the ball from their own put-in and Ranson pounced on the loose ball to open the scoring. Wellington had hit back from the kick-off but good defensive work, particularly by Frost, took Albion back in to the home half. Windsor and Gibson then burst through but the ball went forward. After several close calls, Albion took the ball against the head and from the resultant loose play Buller crashed over for Payne to convert. Albion continued attacking deep in the Wellington half and in the 28th minute Payne’s delightful chip through was collected gleefully by Denovan who ran in to score. Another Payne diagonal caused problems in the Wellington defence and Kerry and Windsor almost combined to score. In the closing minutes of the first half Albion kicked a penalty to touch; contrived the traditional catch and drive from which Ruddle burrowed over to bring the half-time score to a well-deserved 22-0.
Albion were ringing the changes with their strong bench and continued to take the initiative early in the second half when Denovan tackled the Wellington full-back in possession to give them a good base to place pressure on the home side. Albion had again kicked the ball to the corner, the ball came back through the backs and Denovan crashed over for his second try. On the hour mark after several penalties near Albion’s line, Wellington finally bundled over for their only score. Five minutes later, Albion moved the ball back up field and good passing saw Kerry cross unchallenged on the right-hand side. In the closing minutes, Wellington attacked strongly through their much larger pack but could not make much impression on Albion’s secure defence.
For the second week running almost everybody who appeared had their moments. Page and Ward on the wings ran well and held the ball up so it could be recycled; Kerry and Burrows were sound in the middle; Gibson, Windsor and Frost combined well at times; Buck and Walker always made good ground from the lock positions; upfront any combination of Ball, Ruddle, Moulding, Saunders, Harbour and Shaw well-supported an excellent debut from Buller.
It is hoped that the Dirtrackers’ new-found training policy and pedigree will rule for a long time as the team can now look forward to perhaps a more testing home match against Tor II next week – one of the better sides from last season.
Team: Denovan; Page J Kerry Burrows Ward; Payne M Ranson; Gibson Windsor Frost Buck D Walker Ball J Buller Ruddle. Replacements: Used – Berry McCarthy Shaw Moulding Harbour Saunders. Unused – Pearce Millburn Coates.
Scorers – tries – Denovan (2) Ranson Buller Ruddle Kerry. Conversion – Payne.