Woodbridge Warriors 37 v Clacton 12
Despite an early maul from the kick off where Clacton’s large front row showed their impact, a nimble up and under saw Warrior fly half JP Hart score in three minutes. The joy was short lived though as Clacton was quick to counter, applying pressure and feeding full back John Vine who ran a great diagonal line to level the score.
Woodbridge‘s Hart kept the play in the Clacton half with his boot as the visitors started to accumulate penalties, spinning scrums and hands in the ruck. However a couple of stolen line-outs and they were back at half way, flanker Ben Buxey leading his pack on a sortie and wing Alan Redpath also pressurising the home defence but Warriors ran it back only for busy Clacton scrum half Elliot Shuttleworth to steal at the ruck and force more Woodbridge defence.
The penalties kept coming as Clacton couldn’t keep their hands out of rucks which set up a great runs from Warriors wings Luke Garnham and Simon Ward and three points from Jamie Smith. Woodbridge forwards withstood a couple of attacking scrums from the big Clacton front row; Simon Anderson, Daniel Wigfall and Shane Jerram on their 22 as well as threatening runs from James Garrod, Tom Nation and the ever-threatening Vine. Woodbridge started to rack up the penalties as Clacton had a number of line-outs in the home 22. Hart’s clearance drew a sigh of relief as tempers were tested and both teams became 14 for ten minutes. Great pressure at the ruck then saw Warrior Dan Bond steal to Aldis Salavejs and set up Garnham to score.
More Clacton penalties allowed the home side another attacking position before the break where a line out saw Lewis Jacobs gain metres, Hart move the ball wide to Ward who scored on the whistle.
Clacton re-started by kicking for position and using their big forwards to maul towards the line until flanker Max Swift broke, drove and recycled to big prop Jerram who scored to get Clacton back in the game.
Woodbridge’s line speed, fluid inter-play and dogged tackling, Herb Parsley putting in a hard shift, continued to cause the visitors problems as did penalties so play stayed in the Clacton end for much of the time. Charges by Warriors Jono Cooke and Capt Tom Stokes kept threatening and Hart’s kicking got better and better creating attacking platforms from nowhere. Clacton worked hard in defence but Woodbridge’s Smith took another three penalty points and despite some dangerous runs from the hard-working Vine the Warriors got another attacking position from a penalty that hit the bar forcing a drop-out from which they took possession for substitute Luke Norman to score. Smith, acting as scrum half, fed from a Warrior scrum on the 10 metre line to hart, to Stokes and back to Hart to score and draw a close a tetchy but action-packed semi-final and see Woodbridge deservedly progress to meet Southwold on 18 March at Woodbridge.