Play-off joy as Wisbech hit promotion target

Rugby Action - Wisbech Town RFC (red) v Maldon. Wisbech on their way to victory and promotion.
Rugby Action - Wisbech Town RFC (red) v Maldon. Wisbech on their way to victory and promotion.

Wisbech 38pts, Maldon 12pts

WISBECH finally achieved their season’s goal on Saturday by winning the play-off game against Essex 1 runners-up Maldon to gain promotion to London North East 3.

The game marked the final game for Tom Long as captain and in fitting style he scored a try in the game.

At the kick off Wisbech looked sharp and on five minutes Mark Laws gathered a high ball on the visitors’ 22 metre, cut inside to beat the defence and scored a try under the posts which he converted.

However Maldon fought back and looked to work the ball to their inside centre. After one such move Wisbech were caught flat footed and the Maldon centre burst through the home defence to score a converted try to even up the score line.

A penalty from Laws edged Wisbech back into the lead.

The home pack of Comben, Humphreys, Heighton, Chapman, Feaviour, Wadsley, Martell and Saunders started to dominate the set pieces and as a result of a power surge up field Graham Saunders, playing his last game for the club, burrowed his way over the line to score a try and Laws converted from the touch line.

Andy Claydon and Will Pettit, at half backs, kept control of the game and Shane Vickers showed some great pace on the wing.

A further Laws penalty increased the home side’s advantage when just before half-time skipper Long, sprinting from the halfway line, scored his try to give Wisbech a 25-7 lead at the break.

At the start of the second half both sides took time to settle down as due to a heavy shower the ball became greasy which resulted in a number of handling errors and penalties from both sides and which stemmed the flow of the game. Laws added another three points before Maldon scored their second try.

Ben Hoyles replaced Phil Martell, who had taken a hit after a very heavy tackle and Wisbech once again found their rhythm and increased the pressure on the opposition with another Laws penalty.

In the final 15 minutes Wisbech replaced Martell who had given his all with Jon Blunt and Joshua Anderson replaced Saunders, who suffered a chest injury.

Wisbech rounded off an excellent day with a trade mark try as full back Joe Barfoot hit the line at pace and went over under the posts and with the final kick of the game Laws slotted over the conversion.

Long said: “It was a lovely way to finish my spell as captain and see the team promoted again. We were in control from start to finish and to score a try was a real bonus. I will turn out next season but not on a regular basis.”

Team manager Cliff Humphreys said: “It was a great way to finish the season with promotion and the players fully deserved it after all the hard work they have put in. I must also take time out to thank everyone who has supported the club over the past season and once again the home support on Saturday was terrific.

“It was very satisfying to note that, apart from Graham Saunders, all the Wisbech players were home-bred with a large number coming through the ranks from under sevens.

“I thought Maldon played the game in the right spirit and would wish them well next season. Finally I would personally like to thank both retiring captain Tom Long and retiring vice captain Shane Vickers for their work over the season.”