Woodbridge Warriors 3 v S Woodham Ferrers 40 Sat 12 Sept

A minutes silence was held in memory of Charles Notcutt who played his first Woodbridge Rugby Club game on 28 January 1969 against a team of Woodbridge School masters. He became Club President in the early 1970s and remained a supporter of the Club until his death recently.

Play opened in the spirited fashion befitting an early season friendly. S Woodham Ferrers, who had bought two teams, is two leagues ahead of Woodbridge in the London Leagues and it showed it’s pedigree with pressure from the off. Fly-half Keane spreading possession to centres Suka and Kerslake to force the Warriors into early defence which despite good man-marking saw scrum half Dukelow dive over five minutes from kick off. Captain Stokes charged from the restart forcing a penalty for holding on and allowing Jamie Smith to claw three points back.

As expected against a senior side, set pieces caused Woodbridge problems as S Woodham’s energetic scrum drove hard and, when not penalised, secured ball for renewed sorties from their flankers. Line-outs were a similar challenge with S Woodham clearly favouring the maul however Woodbridge resisted better as the game went on, letting the visitors be penalised in the scrum and improving at the throw-ins, Olly Gray taking some corkers. JP Hart was a real asset in clearing lines deep into enemy territory when the Warriors won penalties or turned the visitors over. One or two home opportunities occurred, Jacob Bodkin overcooking a kick-through after a great run, but were rebuffed by a frequently-refreshed opposition defence as both teams used unlimited subs. Late in the half one such opportunity was cleared downfield for a couple of scrums on the Woodbridge 5 metre line building an attack and eventually No 8 Peta scored. 3-12 at the break.

The second half stretched the difference between the teams with high balls testing the hosts and pressure from the start. A free kick proved no help as S Woodham repeatedly attacked, drawing defence and then moving wide for full back Reeve to score. Five minutes later a similar measured move worked the ball out again to prop Gittos who scored under the post.

Woodbridge reacted with Bond and Crowther leading a counter charge which resulted in the longest Warrior attack, Stokes rallying his men who won a line-out against the head but Reeve intercepted, kicked through for substitute No18 to score. A similar move occurred five minutes later and winger Namani scored. Woodbridge held for the rest of the half, Bodkin having another good run at the Woodham defence but despite a committed effort the score stayed at 3-40 with both teams getting a good training run-out for the season ahead.

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