‘Gritty’ Wisbech RUFC 1st XV superbly won away 21-15 to a tough Colchester side who beat them 6-5 at home back in November.
Head coach Leonard Veenendaal said: “In all my years as player and coach with Wisbech I have never witnessed a more grittier determined performance.”
Due to unavailability and injuries Wisbech were reduced to 16 available players, half of them from the Wildcats side.
Full back Nick Thompsett made a scything break through the Colchester line which was well supported by centre Connor Lucas offloaded to James Napier who beat three defenders to sore under the post, converted by Sam Anderson. The rest of the half was dominated by Colchester possessions and resilient Wisbech defence.
A phenomenal effort from Ben Chapman and Jack Jackson in the second row kept the Colchester side out. The front row of Jeff Wilson, Ollie Lake and Alex Pink earned a crucial scrum penalty to relieve the pressure and allow Wisbech to go 7-0 ahead at half time.
At half time captain Oliver Mackett stressed the importance of sticking to our game plan, backing our defence and called for a monumental effort to in the second half.
As expected Colchester started strong and finished a neat backs move in the corner but missed the conversion, and now trailing by two points. Wisbech regrouped putting in multiple phases before the ball was spun out wide, quick hands through the backs allowed outside centre Lewis Haddon to make a clean break to score a brilliant try, converted by Sam Anderson to extend the Wisbech lead to 14-5.
A determined Colchester replied hitting back with a unconverted try of their own in the corner narrowing the gap to 14-10. Wisbech were starting to tire as the defensive effort was taking its toll with Colchester continued pilling on the pressure, a mistake at a quick penalty gave Colchester a 15-14 lead going into the final five minutes.
Veenendaal rolled the dice with a tactical change that raised eyebrows from both sets of supporters.
From the next scrum a the changes made allowed for a planned move from the backs with Anderson now playing at 10 was neatly executed with the ball moved to James Napier to break the line and release James Patrick on the right wing who powered his way through the defence to score converted by Sam Anderson to reclaim the lead 21-15.
Colchester managed to get hold of the ball from the restart spinning it out wide, their right wing manging to round the Wisbech defence with a clear run for a certain try, but young left wing Ethan Garford showed his pace and power to put in an outstanding and determined try saving tackle to stop Colchester’s final attack as the full time whistle went.
Veenendaal said: “Any win is precious but a win on the road with all the odds stacked against you and the team come together is really rewarding.
“An outstanding effort from all 16 who put their bodies on the line and played with such passion any one deserved to be named man-of-the-match.
“Particularly the young Jake Jackson and Ethan Garford impressed, but the players and I without a doubt, awarded the Wisbech Round Table man-of-the-match to talisman and captain Oliver Mackett for his outstanding captaincy and leading by example.
“Our good discipline, the positive never say die attitude of the players and some outstanding captaincy secured a much needed win against all odds on the road.”
Wisbech will enjoy a much needed bye this weekend and back in action when they host Bury St Edmunds at home on March 25 set on reversing the 25-19 away loss in November.
Tries: Napier, Haddon, Patrick. Conversions: Anderson (3).