London Exiles 19pts,
Wisbech are out of the RFU Junior Vase despite a spirited performance against Surrey 1 league leaders London Exiles.
Wisbech were forced to make a number of changes as Graham Saunders, Chris Dorling and Greg Brownlow were not available. Wisbech brought in Solomon Prestige but Richard Pearson and Phil Martell called off on Saturday morning.
Exiles play at Hammersmith on a council owned multi-facility ground. The actual pitch was over half a mile from the changing rooms and because of traffic problems on route Wisbech arrived late and were unable to complete an effective warm up.
Wisbech kicked off into a strong wind and driving rain and soon came under pressure from the home side, whose game plan was to keep the ball tight at the base of the ruck for three phases before passing the ball to their backs.
Wisbech defended well until on 15 minutes captain Tom Long conceded a penalty for a hand in the ruck for which he received a yellow card and 10 minutes in the bin. During this period London Exiles scored two tries and one conversion to give them 12-0 lead. Wisbech fought back and before the break Mark Laws slotted over a penalty.
At half time Wisbech felt the game was for the taking and after five minutes of the restart Prestige broke through the line to score, Laws added the extra points.
Wisbech started to control the game but in the rain the slippery ball made handling difficult. Wisbech conceded a scrum from a knock on in their 22 metres and placed the home scrum under pressure and managed to wheel the scrum 90 degrees.
The referee should have awarded a scrum but allowed play to continue and the home team stole in for a try despite some heroic tackling by the Wisbech defence. The try was converted,
Wisbech bounced back with a Laws penalty and in the final 10 minutes Wisbech laid siege to Exiles’ try line. Wisbech were awarded a number of penalties as the home side prevented Wisbech from winning quick ball. The London based referee kept the yellow card in his pocket and the hosts held out to take the spoils.
“It was a very disappointing result,” said club manager Cliff Humphreys. “The lads gave their all in very difficult circumstances.
“The home draw was a major factor together with the yellow card. I felt the yellow card was a bit harsh especially as it was the first offence and if the referee felt that Tom’s penalty warranted a card why did he not use it against Exiles in the final 10 minutes?
“Once again I must thank the Wisbech travelling supporters.”
Title-chasing Wisbech must now concentrate on the league and have two very important away fixtures at Harwich and Ipswich over the next two weekends.