Rugby union: Beeches recover to keep top spot

Rugby union: Beeches recover to keep top spot

On a personal level, he was never on the losing side – when he left the pitch, Wanderers were winning 13-12.

As coach, however, he was frustrated that not only did both club teams lose, but in the 2nds’ defeat, 28-17 to Jersey United Banks, promising second row player Matt Banahan and prop Ken Moore both went off injured.The two players were being considered in light of the 1st XV’s league game away to Wimbledonians next Saturday.At the start of this game, played at Grainville, both sides seemed to have an edge over the other, either in the pack or the threes.The Banks, for example, displayed a clear advantage in the forwards, where their older and larger players dominated the scrums.

Meanwhile the Jersey backs looked dangerous throughout and made numerous penetrative breaks through the Banks’ defence.The match was marked by some great individual performances, a number of missed tries (two apiece) and the Trower factor.

Banks’ man of the match Roger Trower was in impressive form but so, too, were sons Nick and Harry.The first score came in the 15th minute.

Jersey conceded a penalty and the Banks kicked to touch.

Having brought the ball down, their pack fed Ed O’Brien who drove towards the line before feeding Bertie Broughton, who went over for the score.Five minutes later, however, the 2nds were level when livewire Matt Collins gathered cleanly and went over.Following this there came a moment of individual brilliance from chunky Banks’ centre Richard Finch, a player more likely to be seen on the hockey pitch than at Grainville.A very powerful man, he caused the Jersey defence all kinds of problems throughout the game.

In this instance he received the ball from outside the opposition 22, and having taken on numerous would-be tacklers conjured up a try from nothing.Shortly before half-time Banks’ fly-half Tim de Gruchy received the ball from the base of the scrum, worked the blind side and, running out of support, decided to go himself.

Once past the first line of defence, he was clear to score.With Banks three tries to one up at the break it was Jersey’s turn to score next, when they touched down two quick tries, through Darren Toudic and James Harrison, one of them converted by Toudic.So for a brief period they were in the lead, 17-15, before Jimmy McCormack made it 18-17 to the Banks with a penalty.

Nick Trower gave the Banks a decent points cushion as he broke the tackle and accelerated to the line.McCormack again converted before, in the very last minute, he slotted over yet another penalty to make the final score 28-17.It had been a hard game in poor conditions, but a game played in good heart.Meanwhile, in the game Burton had left at Les Quennevais, with his side leading, the Wanderers eventually went down 29-13.

Only towards the end did they run out of steam, and even scored first, before Beeches’ outside-half Peter Stockley took the ball wide allowing winger Gary Osbourne to drift inside for a try.

Stockley converted.Following another Wanderers’ try, after some impressive forward-driving which took the veterans a massive 50 yards up the pitch, Wanderers were 10-7 ahead, their tries coming from Tony Sergeant and Stewart Barrow.Another Beeches’ try made it 12-10 before John Creavy’s penalty kick just before half-time edged it 13-12 to the 2nds.In the second half, however, Beeches decided to play a more expansive game and that, combined with Stockley’s shrewd use of the boot, as he used the wind to pump the ball deep in the Wanderers’ 22, eventually found the older side willing to compete but with no gas left in the tank to do so.Three late tries, with Stockley, Dan Ireland and Gary Osbourne all on the score sheet, plus a final Stockley conversion in the last minute of the game, meant that Beeches are again top of the JRA Emeraude Lines league with only one team likely to knock them off such a lofty pedestal.That team is the Guernsey RFC 2nd XV, whom Beeches play away from home next Sunday.’I’ll be phoning around everyone to make certain we’ve the strongest side possible,’ said Stockley, conceding that this is the most important fixture of the Beeches’ year.

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