Woodbridge traveled to Wisbech with a home win under their belt and Suffolk Cup semi-final win last week. They faced a much changed XV from the Wisbech that traveled and lost 48-12 on bonfire night. Very early on Wisbech showed their intent, their big forwards put their opposite numbers under intense pressure and forced the first of many penalties. Wisbech no 8 Sam Anderson took from the opening scrum but poor hands allowed Warrior full back Jamie Smith to clear to half way. Wisbech starved the visitors of possession which in turn gave penalties against Woodbridge as they tried to steal illegally from the ruck. Flanker Solomon Prestige and his second row Ben Chapman and Greg Brownlow battered down the right wing demanding hard tackles from Captain Tom Stokes, No 8 Jono Cooke and flanker Tim Johnson as the ‘route one’ option was chosen over and over again. Set pieces were unreliable for Woodbridge a line-out led to an aggressive maul that set up flanker Ben Wicks to score and reward a concerted assault on the Warrior line. Woodbridge were made to defend again straight away as the onslaught resumed John Yorke, Ed Banthorp worked hard as the Wisbech pack pressed energetically, moving the ball confidently until Chapman found a gap and scored. A good kick-off allowed Woodbridge into the Wisbech half only for the home team to maul 35m and force a try- saving tackle from Stokes. With the Warriors down to 14 Ben Wickes drove for James Bostock to score. It was another maul from a line-out that drew the Woodbridge defence and left an opportunity out wide which centre Connor Lucas was happy to fill as the hosts made it four unanswered tries in the first half.
The visitors got a bit more possession at the restart although a poor line-out frustrated an early attack and JP Hart’s clearance kicks, while relieving immediate pressure, gave possession away. However Woodbridge defended further up the pitch and there were moments when their backs looked threatening. Wisbech reverted to game plan and thumped their way up field where Ben Wicks exploited a missed tackle to re-opened the scoring with his second try. A short lived foray by the Warriors into the Wisbech half was again repelled as the weary but resolute home team pack set up another maul and scrum from which centre James Napier scored. As the last quarter started Woodbridge successfully breached the home 22 and won a penalty from which Jono Cooke bludgeoned his way across the line to avoid the whitewash. With evidence that it was possible the Warriors started to grub kick into Wisbech territory winning a scrum just outside the 22 from which a surprised Stokes found himself running free towards the try line and, after a hand-off, he scored. Wisbech came back in the last minutes of the match reasserting their free-passing, full-width forward play from which James Patrick scored to make it a gutsy 39 – 12 home forwards victory.
Video clip is here https://youtu.be/trl41eYDTbE