Wisbech 1st XV ‘press self-destruct button’

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Wisbech RUFC 12 Crusaders 16

Once again the total lack of discipline at the breakdown cost Wisbech the spoils on Saturday when they entertained Norwich Crusaders in the third round of Eastern Counties 1 league championship.

Crusaders had a reputation of being a physical side however master tactician and Wisbech’s head coach Leonard Veenendaal put together a game plan, despite a number of key squad members being unavailable, to negate the visitors.

In the first half Wisbech did consider themselves unlucky to go five points down in the opening five minutes when a speculative overhead kick from the Crusaders fly half bounced back into the hands of the visitors winger who at pace out manoeuvred the home defence. Wisbech rallied and put in motion the game plan, despite being out gunned in the set scrum.

Quick ball from the break down allowed the backs to show they class and Wisbech draw level when centre James Napier went over. Minutes later Wisbech felt that they had touched the ball down over the line after a powerful forward drive, the referee was unsighted and felt that the ball had been held up, but by half time a try by winger James Patrick after another fine move and the conversion by Jack Malkin gave the home side a 12-5 advantage.

In the second half Wisbech pressed the self-destruct button as the penalty count against them increased, the visitors fly half was able to increase the pressure on the home team with a number of kicks to the corner, finally the pressure told and Crusaders scored a unconverted try from a forward drive. Wisbech managed so to cling onto the narrow two-point advantage until the final three minutes when two converted penalties, again for poor discipline, from Crusaders took the spoils.

“It was a very disappointing performance,” said manager Cliff Humphreys. “Rugby is a game of patience and skill and the rules at the breakdown are fairly simple to understand.

“The job of a referee is apply the rules and if a team constantly infringes the rules he will penalise them, and psychologically will look to penalise persistence offenders in 50/50 situations.

“Our players are extremely well coached and understand the rules implicitly. I am at a loss as to why the squad continues to press the self-destruct button after excellent work in the game. Also what was disappointing was the arguing and bickering amongst the players.

“We certainly missed Solly (skipper Prestidge) today. I appeal to the players during the week to regroup and support Leonard by training before a difficult away encounter against league leaders Theftford on Saturday.”

Veenendaal said: “You’ve got to dust yourself down and get back into it which we’ll do and we’ll come out fighting against Thetford.

“Thetford will be difficult this week but we should be match-hardened now. We’ve shown we can compete with two of the best but we just need to go that extra stage. Pressure’s always on to win games.

“We’ve had a bad start and one win out of three is not what you want, a spate of unfortunate injuries and enforced availability of key players has not helped but we’re still a good side and we can still get back on track.

“It only needs a few wins on the bounce and then you very quickly move back up the table.”