Guildford 40 – 22 Witney
Saturday 3rd February 2023
Doing it for the Ladies
1 Luke Brooks, 2 Lewis Gunn, 3 Alex Hankins (C), 4 Alex Burill, 5 Matt Poole, 6 Harry Phillips, 7 Oli Millward, 8 Joe Garner (VC), 9 Ieuan Jones, 10 Liam Driscoll, 11 Alex Jordan, 12 Oli Fielder, 13 Zac Rodber, 14 Louis Bounds, 15 Joe Gwyther, 16 Jon Karimian, 17 Ed Padsfield, 18 Finn Barrowcliffe
Lots of rugby at GRFC this weekend with action both on and off the field. The highlight of Friday night was the Vets home game against Cobham. Those who were still able to stand up after their exertions in Jersey last week managed to get back to winning ways with a hard fought victory. They then retired to the bar where, from all reports, it sounds like they had a great time until being asked to leave after midnight so the staff could go home!
It was also good to see the Guildford Blues take to the field in a friendly game at Cobham where they came second, in what was by all accounts a strong performance, 17-12
It is also that time of year where we welcome the start of the Six Nations during which on Friday, Ireland overcame a very poor French team, on Saturday, England scraped a win in Italy and Scotland tried to lose to Wales, but somehow didn’t.
Off the field on Saturday, we held the very first Club Captain’s Ladies Bottomless Brunch which was well received and will be written about in detail elsewhere, but it looked like it was still going strong well after the final whistle of the 1st XV game! It was also the Minis Spring Festival on Sunday – with approximately 900 children expected at Broadwater. Thanks to Knight Frank for sponsoring the festival – their pitch boards popped up in several of the photos which accompany this report and can be seen on our Facebook page.
And so, to the 1st XV game. Guildford were hoping to build on their fantastic result last week away to Jersey and put right a few things from the last time they met Witney back in October, where we manged to lose 26-24 after leading 5-21 at half time!
The team again showed several changes from the previous week. It is a challenge for teams at Level 6 and below to field the same team regularly which makes it difficult to get any cohesion. This week was notable in that Colt Finn Barrowcliffe was due to make his debut off the bench. Congratulations Finn!
We were very pleased to welcome Mr Leis Bonanno from the Gloucestershire Referees Society who oversaw proceedings. He must have read one of my earlier reports as he looked resplendent in a white shirt. However, it was difficult to distinguish the teams as Witney were in Blue and Black and Guildford in Blue.
Guildford kicked off towards the Guildford Road end with a good, high hanging kick that enabled the chasers to put the catcher under pressure. Witney managed to clear their lines, but the kick didn’t find touch giving AJ an early chance to run at the defence but Witney force Guildford into touch for the first lineout of the day.
The throw is too long, but Witney managed to secure the ball only to see it knocked on in the middle of the pitch outside the Witney 22 so we have the first Guildford scrum of the day. The scrum is won by Guildford and Ieuan puts a probing kick into the bottom right hand corner. The defenders make a bit of a hash of things and the referee adjudges that the ball was touched by a defender before going into touch-in-goal, so we had a 5 metre scrum to Guildford.
Another solid scrum and some strong running put the Witney line under significant pressure. After several attempts close to the line, Zac Rodber came on a deep run through the centre to crash over close to the posts to open the scoring for Guildford. Ieuan’s conversion was good and after 5 minutes played, the score was Guildford 7 – 0 Witney.
Guildford dominated much of the play with strong running from the forwards, clever play in the backs with Joe Gwyther and Liam Driscoll interchanging at times to keep the opposition guessing what was going to happen. The game ebbed and flowed with Witney trying to get back into the game, their lineout letting them down a bit in terms of accuracy which stifled their attack when they had made some good territorial gains. Guildford had a couple of chances to increase the score, but the final pass wouldn't go to hand and Witney were able to clear their lines.
One promising Witney attack was cut short as the referee spotted a forward pass. From the resulting scrum, Joe Garner picked up and made his customary 10 metre break. The ball then worked its way out to Louis Bounds on the wing about 30 metres from the try line, who showed great strength in handing off his opposite number and scampered down the touchline to touch down for Guildford’s second try after 25 minutes. Ieuan had his kicking boots this week and the score moved on to Guildford 14 – Witney 0.
Witney pressed hard to get into Guildford’s 22 and onto the scoreboard. One attack was just short as the Witney left winger was bundled into touch on the try line. A few more attempts however and they managed to crash over the line to score a converted try to make the score Guildford 14 – 7 Witney.
Guildford make good ground after the restart but are just not able to make the final pass stick or turn over the ball in the Witney 22 and it isn’t long before Mr Bonanno calls an end to the half.
HT Guildford 14 – 7 Witney
The second half continues where the first half left off. Lots of positive surges from both sides, but just not enough there to make any significant breakthrough. About 10 minutes into the half, Guildford have a penalty 35 metres out and in front of the posts. The kick is missed, and Witney can clear their lines.
Several penalties are then conceded by Guildford for high tackles. The line for this is based on the new laws that apply to the grassroots game. Some of the players are getting caught out by it which is something that will be needed to be worked on for the remainder of the season.
From one penalty Witney clear to the halfway line, win the lineout and look to set their backs away. Guildford’s defensive line is up quickly and Foley plucks the ball out of the air and sets off faster than a man who has missed his plane home from Jersey. He sees AJ on his left and passes the ball for AJ to run in for Guildford’s third try which Ieuan converts. The score now is Guildford 21 – 7 Witney.
Guildford deal with the kick off well and make good yards. A high hanging box kick from Ieuan enables the chasers to put pressure on the catcher. Guildford secure the ball and move it wide to AJ on the left who gets the ball in space inside his own half. He makes good ground past his opposite number just being dragged down inside the Witney 22. Good support from Zac Rodber means he can go over in the corner for his second of the day and Guildford’s bonus point try. The conversion is missed, the score is now Guildford 26 – 7 Witney.
Guildford continue putting pressure on Witney and a collapsed maul sees the Witney 4 shown a yellow card. The ball is put into the corner and Guildford drive Witney over the line for another converted try. The score is now Guildford 33 – 7 Witney.
Guildford then take their foot off the gas. Two tries in quick succession from Witney, a driving maul from a lineout, which was moved on 10 metres for backchat by a Guildford player and a well worked solo effort from the Witney 12, aided by some very lacklustre defending from the home side took the score to Guildford 33 – 22 Witney.
Guildford get their act back together and some good work from Louis Bounds and Zac Rodber enabled Liam Driscoll to run in to complete the scoring for the day with a converted try. The final score Guildford 40 – 22 Witney.
A solid performance for most of the game by the home team which was interspersed with moments of not looking like they knew what they were doing in attack and switching off in defence. However, a five-point win is what goes in the record books. The players now have a week off before they return to play Reading away on 17th February.