Towel thrown in in one-sided contest
By Jim Morgan at Castle Fields on Monday, 16th January 2012.
SUFFOLK MERIT LEAGUE, DIVISION ONE: Haverhill 1st XV 55 Woodbridge 2nd XV 5. Match report.
The ethos of the Suffolk Merit Leagues is to 'Play rugby first' and so rules about substitutes and replacement front rows are dropped in order to secure a game.
With Woodbridge turning out with 13 men, Haverhill dropped to 14 players but it was always going to be a tough day in the office for the Sutton Hoo boys.
This being said, Woodbridge managed to spend some good time in the Haverhill half and it was only some stoical defence from Adam Hunt, Mike Woods and Stuart Newman that stood between the visitors and more points on the board.
On five minutes, pressure told as some nice play by Chris Flannery and Woods around the back of the scrum led to a great 30-metre run from Gavin Hope to open the account at 5-0, the Hunt conversion just missing.
Fifteen minutes in, a great line-out take against the throw by Harry Marsh, maturing so well at the higher level, saw Woods break out 50 metres, with Newman, Simon Potter and Carl Anderson all skilfully supporting the move, leading to a Woodbridge scrum.
Potter, playing in his unfamiliar, but probably best, position of hooker, had other ideas, winning the ball against the head for Woods to spin to Hope, who jinked past the inside centre and over the line for Hunt to convert and 12-0.
Potter set up the next try with a powerful 30-metre break-out, with all the backs getting involved for Hunt to slap over and convert for 19-0.
Potter then secured his name on the scorecard on 30 minutes after another flowing move from the backs and a nicely stroked conversion saw Hunt take the score to 26-0.
From the restart Haverhill were back at Woodbridge and Micky Lansdowne drove powerfully 40 metres up the park to release Newman for a certain try, only to be called back for a forward pass.
The resulting scrum was destroyed by Haverhill and a penalty was kicked to ten metres. Anderson set the line ball beautifully and the catch and drive was executed to perfection for Flannery to pirouette off the back of the drive and over for 31-0. The Woodbridge fly half limped off the field at this stage.
A rare error in the scrum saw Woodbridge win against the head and kick forward, only to release Hunt on a 40-metre run and then pass between a mix of backs and forwards, finally seeing Hope drive over for his third try and Hunt convert on the whistle for 38-0.
Comment during the break led to a prediction of a cricket score with the rapidly weakening Woodbridge up against the ropes.
However, Woodbridge had other ideas and managed to cross the line, despite crunching tackles from Hunt and Newman to go over in the corner and make the score 38-5 on 42 minutes.
A wayward Woodbridge pass saw Dom Farnell show good footballing skills, kicking the ball three times to gain 60 metres, only being robbed of the score as the ball dropped out at the last two metres for a line-out.
Marsh won this against the throw and Haverhill earned a penalty, which was awarded after further play produced no advantage and the quick-thinking, athletic prop Dave Quinney ran back to the mark, took the kick to himself and smashed over the line for 43-5 on 44 minutes.
From the restart Flannery gathered and ran 60 metres, laid off to Woods and then Newman scored for 48-5 on 45 minutes and a minute later, after a Quinney catch and drive and a 50-metre break-out by Woods to score and Hunt to convert, seeing the score rise to 55-5.
During the conversion, someone asked: “when does the referee call the game off?” and with a second player of Woodbridge limping to the side and the prospect of try-a-minute rugby ensuing, Woodbridge threw in the towel and the referee blew the final whistle to avoid risk of further injury.
Aaron White received a great cheer from the crowd as he had walked just five metres on to the pitch to replace Quinney, only to hear the final whistle.
With Haverhill hosting the Woodbridge first team in the Suffolk Plate, who play in the league above, next Saturday, it will be a chance for the team to play with a more suited opposition and start the journey for a second set of silverware in the 2011/12 season. Kick-off 2pm to allow for extra time.
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