Old Centralians 33 Weston 19
IT’S said that revenge is a dish best served cold but Old Centralians avenged their heavy early-season National Three South West defeat at Weston in a high octane, red-blooded cracker of a game on Hartpury’s artificial pitch, writes Mike Wallace.
The two sides shared eight tries with Cents scoring the lion’s share for their bonus point, despite a late rally by the seasiders which briefly jangled a few nerves.
Cents kicked off with the wind behind them and swiftly put the visitors under pressure. An early five-metre lineout and drive brought a try for number eight Rich Pinkney but the heavy Weston pack soon showed their muscle, putting the home scrum under pressure.
Cents’ response was for hooker Nathan Stroud to heel quickly with the back row moving the ball swiftly from the set-piece. This brought a slick movement between fly-half Ollie Locke, centre Liam Hemming and wing Rob Jones who dotted down with Hemming converting for a 12-0 lead as the first quarter ended.
Weston’s best chance was always going to be through their big, well-drilled forwards and once they got a scrum within five metres they powered number eight George Sparks over in the corner with fly-half James Mackay slotting the extras. Although being edged in the scrums, Cents’ forwards continued to win clean ball for their backs, their half backs moved it crisply on and full-back Lewis May sliced through the midfield for a well-executed try improved by Hemming.
The move was repeated five minutes later, this time with Hemming wrong-footing the defence, running a great diagonal line and sprinting through for a superb individual try. Fittingly he converted it to give Cents a 26-7 interval lead.
Straight from the restart Cents drove deep into Weston’s 22 and slick inter-passing between Jones, Ollie Townsend and May got the latter his second try. Hemming again added the extras to stretch the lead to 33-7 but Weston’s formidable pack and Mackay’s long, wind-assisted punts pinned Cents down in their own half.
It soon paid dividends as Cents conceded penalties in desperate defence and from a lineout catch and drive Weston’s giant number eight George Sparks crashed over. Mackay converted and when another five-metre scrum drove lock Andrew Glen over Weston could see a glimmer of hope at 33-19. This brightened when Cents’ influential scrum-half George Preece was sin-binned for a trip and Cents had to reshuffle, with Pinkney going to half back.
Weston were now oozing confidence mixed with desperation and pounded Cents’ line. It took stonewall defence and bodies on the line from the whole team to keep them out. Matters eased when Sparks copped a technical yellow card and centre Mike Mathers led the charge back upfield to see Cents to a hard fought but well deserved bonus point victory.
Performances like this in their remaining and rescheduled matches should see Cents climbing away from the bottom of the table, especially if they play games on a pitch that suits their running style.
OLD CENTRALIANS: L. May; R. Jones; L. Hemming; M. Mathers; O. Townsend; O. Locke; G. Preece; S. Preece; N. Stroud; S. Fritchley; J. Phillips; P. Willetts; D. Harper; J. Huxtable; R. Pinkney. Reps: K. Blackmore; B. Hogben; B. Turk;
WESTON: K. Middlemiss; T. Bellak; S. Smee; S. Edwards; M. Watkins; J. Mackay; R. Bennett; D. Swann; C. Withers; D. Price; D. Bufton; A. Glen; A. Russell; P. Morrison; G. Sparks. Reps: S. Donegan; S. Fisher; R. Mackay.
REFEREE: Chris Thomas (RFU)
STAR PLAYERS: Lewis May (Centralians) and George Sparks (Weston).