Sat 18 Nov 2017, 14:30

Devizes RFC
Sherborne RFC

League leaders too good for Saddlebacks on Saturday

Devizes faced top of the table Sherborne in the semi-final of the Dorset & Wilts 1st XV Cup for the second time in three weeks.  Just two weeks prior, Devizes had come away from Sherborne with a 39-10 defeat.  Devizes made two changes in the pack from the win over Swanage & Wareham, with the unavailable Rhys Harries replaced by Jack Mason.  Charlie Paget joined his brother in the second row in for Martin Bills (injured).  In the backs Sam Jones stepped into the centres for Jorge Wadman who was also unavailable, whilst John Bramwell also missed out through injury which meant Nathan Strong deputised at scrum half.

For the first 25 minutes, the match was hotly contested with the score poised at 0-0.  This suited the Saddlebacks as they were playing up the slope and into the wind.  Some huge defensive sets kept the hard Sherborne runners at bay for the majority of this period, however their tricky winger muscled his way down the right flank and suddenly Devizes had to scramble back in defence.  A huge hit by Matt Bishop on his opposite number though stemmed the tide and kept Sherborne at bay with a knock on.

Devizes’ discipline started to wane a little as two penalties within as many minutes were converted by Sherborne centre Rhodri Hopkins to edge the visitors in front.  From the restart, some poor play for Devizes saw the Sherborne fly half have an age to setup for a 40 metre drop goal, which with the wind was successful.  Sherborne then upped the pressure and within 2 minutes of the break were 16-0 in front with a pick and go try close to the Devizes line, again converted by Hopkins.

With barely 30 seconds on the clock, Devizes needed something going into the break and some excellent pressure saw Mason charge down a box kick which he regathered to sprint in over the try line.  From out wide, the conversion was missed, but 16-5 at the break, Devizes were back in this cup tie, despite going toe to toe with the league leaders for much of the half.

Going down the slope and with their tails now up, Devizes pushed forward from the restart and some excellent carries pushed Sherborne deep into the territory.  Then some excellent hands through the forwards saw lock Lewis Paget galloping down the left wing through a couple of tackles to score much to the delight of the vocal home support.  Brown converted the extras.

Due to Sherborne’s back chatting, the restart turned into a penalty kick for Devizes and they had a further opportunity to increase the pressure at 16-12, however the visitors managed to scrap away and prevent Devizes from adding any further score during this period of significant momentum.  Both sides then lost players to the sin bin, with Devizes centre Travis Orwin being yellow carded for a breakdown offence.

Sherborne managed to edge closer and despite some solid initial defence, the visitors powered over the try line and then minutes later swarmed over again.  With both tries converted, Devizes needed a miracle in this cup tie to turn round the 30-12 deficit.

Ben Wilkinson, Luke Moore and Luke Rapson all came off the bench for those who were carrying niggles however despite the effort, no further scores were made and Sherborne had made it through to the 1st XV Cup Final.  An excellent contest for much of the match.  Devizes were well within the contest for long periods, however it is clear to see why Sherborne are the best team in the league this season.  All the best to Sherborne in the final versus North Dorset on 2nd December.

Devizes travel to Trowbridge next weekend in a local Wiltshire derby and will be taking a lot of the positives from Saturday’s game going into that one.  The following week was initially a rest week, however the rescheduled Marlborough match up at the Common has been rescheduled to Saturday 2nd December.

Devizes 1st XV

1. Randall 2. Hutchings 3. Bishop 4. C. Paget 5. L. Paget 6. Martin 7. Mason 8. Bryant 9. N. Strong 10. Brown 11. Holloran 12. Orwin 13. Jones 14. M. Strong 15. Barter

16. Wilkinson 17. Burton 18. Moore 19. Rapson

Try scorers: Mason (39); L. Paget (46)

Conversions: Brown (47)

Yellow cards: Orwin (57)

Player of the Match: Lewis Paget