Tricky away win for Wanstead
Billericay 27 Wanstead 31
Missing six players, Wanstead made the trip into deepest Essex on Sunday for a late kick off against a mixed U16/17’s Billericay.
The hosts looked well organised and physically imposing lining up to start the game as Wanstead had to move players into unaccustomed positions and make use of a couple of opposition players.
The hosts kicked off and looked to capitalise on a good start but Harry Gipson collected and returned the ball. Under pressure, the hosts made the mistake of kicking again, finding Harry Gipson in space he ran in a great solo try. Conversion missed.
The hosts then got into their stride and pushed Wanstead back to within a few meters of their try line, only some determined defending kept them at bay. The hosts also dominated the initial scrums as they looked to use their strength to drive forward. Wanstead finally managed to break a few minutes of being dominated when they surged down the left wing. It looked like the Herons would add to their earlier score but Harry Gipson was injured and had to leave the field for a few minutes. The hosts used their numerical advantage during this time to score a couple of quick trys.
With the scores at 12-5 to Billericay, Harry Gipson returned to the fray and Wanstead moved into the opposition half. Deandre Silcott, using his speed and quick thinking forces the hosts into giving away a penalty. The kick is taken and good work by Dan Sacks drives the Herons forward, the hosts force the ball out of play and Wanstead get a line out with a few meters of the try line. Harry Gipson scores his second try of the game after Jay collects the ball and sets him up. Converted.
Wanstead then begin to dominate their hosts with Gabriel Weeden in particular excelling with some great kicking. It was against the run of play then that Billericay scored, the stand in fullback unable to stop the score. Converted.
Wanstead had improved as the first half continued, coming to terms with the physical side of their opponents and holding their own all over the pitch. Communication between all the players was evident and they supported each other when needed.
Just before half time Harry Gipson completed his hat trick of trys with another determined run to bring the scores level. Converted.
Half Time: 19-19
Wanstead had the advantage of going downhill for the second half but the initial skirmishes saw neither team able to make a breakthrough or impose themselves.
The game then appeared to open up with some great rugby from both sides. Billericay broke away once again just as it looked like Wanstead would score to add to their tally. Conversion missed.
Wanstead knew they had the measure of their hosts and once again began building up a period of pressure on the hosts defence. Connor Welley-Hardy looked to have scored with a driving run under the posts but the play was brought back for a scrum. Wanstead won the scrum and Connor Welley-Hardy was given another opportunity to go for the line. This time he made his was over and Wanstead were level again.
The restart saw Wanstead break down the left wing once again, the ball was kicked forward and crossed the try line. A Wanstead player went to score but was judged to have been illegally stopped in doing so and the visitors were awarded a penalty try to move them into a deserved lead.
The game had five minutes left when the hosts were awarded a penalty under the Wanstead posts, rather than go for 7 points they opted to kick to make the score, 27-31.
Billericay spent the next ten minutes of the game camped in the Wanstead half, but some great defending kept them from scoring. The Wanstead line held firm under some determined attacks from the hosts and the game ended with a Wanstead victory.
A fantastic second half performance from the Under 16’s given their depleted squad against a strong and well drilled opposition. A lesson in working for each other and not giving up, the game also saw the welcome return of Marcus Mackenzie to the team.
Final score: 27-31
Harry Gipson, 3
Gabriel Weeden (2 conversions)
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