Vees leave it late to snatch victory
Vees notch third straight win
Verulamians 33 Old Grammarians 30
AFTER a fortnight of frosty weather the Cotlandswick pitch finally thawed allowing Verulamians to welcome Old Grammarians.
Verulamians made a solid start and early pressure on the Old Grammarians defence was soon converted into an early advantage for the Vees. The pace of the game proved too much for the visitors who gave away three kickable penalties in the first 10 minutes and fly-half Crowne clocked up a nine point lead for the Vees.
Grammarians finally got their superior scrum going forward forcing the Vees into a series of penalties resulting in some good field position. Following a sustained assault from the Grammarians pack on the home team’s try line the visitors crashed their way over the line for a converted try.
After some excellent offloading from Coyle and Wildey the Vees progressed into the visitors’ 22. With the damage done up front quick ball was released to the backs with centre Woolley breaking the line and finding the on rushing full-back Ricci who was held up just short of the line. He managed to offload to Childerstone who dived over in the corner but Crowne missed the conversion.
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Verulamians extended their lead just before the half time whistle when Ricci raced through under the posts after a weaving run. Crowne added the conversion.
The second half got off to an electric start with an end-to-end try from the Vees after the visitors had kicked a penalty.
After a poor kick from Grammarians the ballbobbled into the Verulamians dead ball area with Paton covering easily. In an inspired and audacious piece of skill he dummied the touchdown for the 22 drop out and after a cheeky side step set off for a daring counter attack. Luckily for the inventive winger he was supported by his team mates and after some swift handling and clever interplay between backs and forwards alike Coyle found himself with space to work with. Keeping his composure he dummied the full-back to cruise under the posts for a scintillating one hundred metre try.
Crowne took the extras and the Vees looked to press for the fourth try and the bonus point victory but the game was turned on its head a few minutes later. The Vees broke down the wing and looked certain to score again but the game was stopped for an off the ball incident.
A dangerously late tackle from the visitors sparked off an argument between the backs and when the Grammarians winger ran 20 yards and struck a Verulamians player a melee unused.
Once the handbags were put down the referee bizarrely awarded Grammarians a penalty just inside the Vees half despite the fact the play had been stopped in the Grammarians 22. The visitors seized the opportunity and kicked for the corner. Vees knocked on at the lineout and Grammarians made their scrum superiority count and drove the home side across their own line to take the score to 28-15.
The visitors capitalised on the shift in momentum and put the Vees under pressure. The home team found themselves defending a five metre scrum and Grammarians pushed over for a second try in five minutes. Although the conversion was missed the visitors were back in the match.
Grammarians’ resurgence continued and after some hard running lines form their forwards the visiting centre smashed his way through the Verulamians defence to crash in under the posts. The conversion took Grammarians to within a point.
It proved to be a dramatic finish to a high scoring and entertaining game. With the visitors firmly in the driving seat they once again made their pressure up front count and forced a penalty from a scrum to earn a penalty in front of the posts.
The three points were taken to give Grammarians the lead for the first time in the game and with five minutes to close out. They looked destined to do so however the visitors handed Vees some cheap ball with some poor kicking.
Ricci fielded a high ball well and set off on what is fast becoming his trade mark counterattack. He was grounded but the forwards retained quick possession allowing captain Rees to release Woolley free down the blindside. With the centre running out of space it looked like the Vees might miss out on a dramatic late winner but flanker Westhead had the pace and awareness to support the runner, taking the pass to slide in and claim victory for the Vees.
The nail biting finish marked Vees’ third win in a row and will no doubt give the side confidence leading into the New Year and their last game of 2010 when they welcome Hendon to Cotlandswick this weekend.