Storm Dennis and Ipswich YM halt Wisbech 1st XV's rugby London 3 Eastern Counties momentum in rain and wind
Wisbech 1st XV's London 3 Eastern Counties momentum was halted at Ipswich YM 15-5 on a filthy, wet and windy afternoon.
Despite recent heavy rain the pitch was in good condition.
Playing with a breeze at their backs Wisbech registered the first points of the afternoon on 11 minutes, Nathaniel Humphreys the beneficiary from a powerful lineout catch and drive to score a try. Jack Malkin's conversion was missed, with the visitors taking a 5-0 lead.
Despite the dominance, 10 minutes later misfortune stuck for the 'Men in Red' as influential playmaker and fly half Jack Malkin sustained a hand injury. In spite of his attempt to continue playing it was clear to the coaching team he was in some discomfort and much to Malkin's reluctance, replaced him. The disruption and slow reorganising on the field would cost the visitors dearly.
Some 27 minutes into the half replacement fly half Samuel Anderson 5 metres from his try line attempted to clear his line, the kick was too slow and low and went straight into the hands of a rushing defending Ipswich player for the simplest of tries. The conversion was missed, the scores now level at 5-5.
However, a period of dominance from Ipswich followed and on the stroke of half term a defensive error led to another converted Ipswich try to stretch the home sides lead to 12-5.
In the second half Ipswich came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, but a determined Wisbech defence, now playing into the wind, started to fight their way back into the game.
However as Wisbech were starting to build momentum and physical dominance so was storm Dennis as the wind speed doubled blowing the rain straight at a defiant Wisbech side, who in spite of the weather siding with Ipswich, were reasserting their dominance.
Nevertheless Storm Dennis was proving too much, as most of the second half saw Ipswich keep the visitors in their own half with judicious placement of kicks behind their line forcing the Men in Red – who were not going down without a fight– to carry again and again against the wind.
Eventually, Ipswich won a penalty on 78 minutes, this time slightly to the right of the posts but on the visitors' 22. The wind carried the ball through the post cruelly denying Wisbech a losing bonus point.
In truth, this wasn’t a game for those that like running rugby, but the hosts took their chances and Storm Dennis took side with the hosts as the game ended 15-5 to Ipswich YM.
Choosing a man of the match proved a tough one as everyone in the squad did more than their share and putting their bodies on the line. Luke Green, Henry Lankfer and Solomon Prestidge along with replacement veteran Mark Goude upfront with Raimondas Vinksna, Shane Vickers, Harry Newman and young Ben Goude in the backs were all fantastic; but no more so then Gerard Wessels who was simply outstanding to be named Wisbech Round Table man of the match.
Wisbech director of rugby Leonard Veenendaal commented: “The toughest is when you lose a match in spite of playing all the rugby. Conditions were horrendous, even playing with the wind but the storm suddenly spiked at the start of the second half making it a near impossible task to play into the brutal gale.
"We were beaten by the flip of the coin, I cannot but wonder if we had won the toss and ended up playing that dominant positive rugby with the gale at our backs what the outcome could have been. I was immensely proud of the boys, the commitment, pride and passion on display was absolutely fantastic. Sport and the rugby gods can be cruel sometimes but to come away without even a bonus point for our efforts is agonising and heart-rending.”
• Wisbech Wildcats hosted top the Eastern Counties 2 West League leaders Mildenhall for what was a highly entertaining match at Harecroft road. A really strong performance from the Wildcats but in the end succumb 36-17 to a strong top of the table Mildenhall side.
Wisbech 1st XV's next match sees them face Woodbridge with the Wildcats welcoming Sawston, both at Harecroft Road on Saturday, February 22, 2.30pm kick-off.