Sat 17 Mar 2018
Scrum dominance paves way for bonus point win for Devizes over Sherborne
Devizes welcomed Sherborne to the Chivers Ground on a freezing cold, breezy early Saturday afternoon and sealed a great win to boost morale with the visit of Trowbridge next week. Kick off was brought forward to 1pm to allow all to watch the England v Ireland Six Nations match in the bar after. Both sides were depleted, with the Saddlebacks missing around 12 would be first team players. Sherborne also looked to be depleted with a number of their 2nd team stepping up. There were rare starts for Craig Hurcombe on the wing and Kurtis Marsden at inside centre and a return for Nathan Strong on the other flank. Isaac Gould made his first start at blindside flanker and Martin Bills also started in the second row for their first starts for some time in a reasonably strong pack.
Sherborne started off kicking towards the car park and started to play through the phases, however the Saddlebacks defence was well on top, taking the positives out of a decent defensive effort at Swanage and Wareham the week before. Marsden went off injured with a broken nose so player/manager Julian Taylor came onto the wing and put in a solid shift. It wasn’t until around 15 minutes in when Devizes started to up the pressure, although to be fair to Sherborne their committed defence kept the home side at bay. Despite this, the scrums started to see Devizes dominate and from this, Travis Orwin managed to find a gap in the midfield to offload to the supporting Strong who dotted down. The conversion in breezy conditions was missed.
Devizes continued to edge up the field with the visitors falling foul of the whistle at the breakdown with the Devizes jacklers competing well. A kick to the corner saw Sherborne defend well, but then from resulting penalties, due to the scrum dominance, five metre scrums were opted for and duly a couple of minutes later a penalty try was awarded as the Sherborne scrum splintered to make it 12-0.
That’s how it stayed at the break as both sides headed into the changing rooms for much needed warmth. In the heat of the penalty try, the visitors saw their prop sin binned and their replacement prop who was playing in the second row injured so the first ten minutes of the second half would be played with uncontested scrums.
Back out into the cold, both sides rallied and Devizes started the stronger with the forwards making some notable carries. From a series of charges inside the Sherborne twenty-two the ball was played to skipper Josh Gould who crashed over. Brown added the conversion to make it 19-0.
With full numbers restored, the scrums were fully reinstated to contested and Devizes had the edge between their teeth as they again smashed a Sherborne scrum backwards at a rate of knots, before Gould again crashed over the try line. Brown again converted to make it 26-0.
To Sherborne’s credit, they rallied and had the better of the final twenty minutes. Devizes had emptied the bench with Russ Hudson coming on at prop and Leighton Osbourne come on for his debut.
Sherborne worked the blindside well and after a series of supporting carries, saw their young front row dive over in the corner. The conversion was narrowly missed but Devizes had to keep focusing to ensure they did not allow the Dorset side back into the game. Sherborne continued to rally and were unlucky not to score again as Devizes second row Charlie Paget was sent to the sin bin, however the Saddleback defence was not breached.
A strange game with both sides heavily depleted, but an extremely satisfying win over Sherborne which solidifies Devizes 6th placed position in Southern Counties South. This defeat for Sherborne has allowed both Marlborough and Trowbridge an opportunity to seal the title, with Sherborne up against Marlborough next weekend.
For the Saddlebacks, an opportunity to put the awful defeat at Trowbridge back in November behind them when they welcome their Wiltshire rivals to the Chivers Ground next Saturday.
Devizes 1st XV:
1. Randall 2. Hutchings 3. Bishop (16. Hudson, 45) 4. Bills 5. Paget 6. I. Gould (17. Osbourne, 64) 7. Bryant 8. J. Gould (c) 9. Bramwell 10. Brown 11. Hurcombe 12. Marsden (18. Taylor, 13) 13. Orwin 14. Strong 15. Barter
Try Scorers: Strong (17); Penalty Try (39); J Gould (48), (58)
Conversions: Brown (49), (59)
Player of the Match: Josh Gould