GILLINGHAM ANCHORIANS 17pts REEDS WEYBRIDGE 15pts – RFU JUNIOR VASE – FOURTH ROUND
Reeds Weybridge weather watchers would have seen the early warnings of heavy rain and gale force winds scheduled for the Kent area on Saturday afternoon, the forecasts were spot on and those conditions did not favour Reeds running the ball around the park, the dazzling attacking style that has been central to their league success all season.
It all went so well in the first half with Pete Davidge Reeds elegant fly half orchestrating the backs, he was the author of so many good things and it brought points. Alex Corner, Reeds influential No 8 was first on the score sheet when he bashed his way over from the midfield for a five point lead, his lion hearted contribution in attack and defence in the awful conditions was immense.
Dan Veal, Reeds big winger was put away out wide but was stopped just short of the line but then managed to squeeze his way over, a ten point lead and Reeds were in the box seat. Just on half time, skipper and centre Billy Maddock came hammering through on the blind side and touched down leaving Reeds with a three try lead at the change round. But then the weather worsened, the pitch became muddier, hands became colder, the wind strengthened and passes went down, Gillingham decided to play it tight and grind their way upfield, it is so difficult to stop a series of rolling mauls from ten metres out as big forwards drove onwards in the mud and that led to the hosts first try, converted as well, Gillingham were back in the game and sensed that their pack could be the key to victory.
Out in the open spaces Reeds were dominant, young Chris Stegmann, the full back, such a lethal runner from deep came close, but mud is a great leveller which nullified Reeds ambitious style and any possession that went astray was hoofed upfield and Reeds were vulnerable when those big Gillingham forwards were on the roll. One more try for Reeds would have clinched it for them and enabled them to shut down the game but that didn’t happen, another rolling forward maul had Gillingham in for a second try and Reeds were in trouble, with fifteen minutes left on the clock Gillingham rumbled over for their third and that was decisive. Reeds ran everything in the last ten as they battled to save the game, but the weather made that seriously difficult.
A disappointing day for Reeds, when you travel eighty miles to a game and lose, the returning journey is not a happy one. Having said that, Reeds are back on home soil next week, on their hopefully drier pitch to face Economicals, there are no easy games in Surrey League Two and Economicals, who lost by just one point to Kingston will provide another tricky afternoon for Reeds.