NEW MILTON 15pts REEDS WEYBRIDGE 12pts
Last season Reeds Weybridge met three sides from the top Hampshire league in the Junior Vase and beat all three of them, however New Milton, having just come down from London SW 3 proved to be a much sterner test. As the score sheet shows, there wasn’t too much to choose between the sides but that extra experience that New Milton had of playing in a higher league was the difference.
Right from the outset Reeds decided that their best way to win the game was to unleash their talented back division; it is the strategy that has been the bedrock of so much success. And it nearly worked, Peter Davidge Reeds playmaker was the author of so many good things giving yards of space for Bill Maddock the skipper and Joe Moriarty to make ground in the midfield and young Malcolm Harding the winger in full flight was a constant threat.
But flair in attack does have its disadvantages when you are up against a battle hardened side that has experienced SW3 rugby and that has the ability to pounce on any handling errors and turn it into attack. It was during that first quarter that Reeds conceded their first try, New Milton were deep in Reeds 22 and mounted a series of attacks close to the line, recycling the ball for half a dozen times left Reeds short of cover and the homesters went in near the flag for a converted try.
Up front it was certainly Reeds day with their two props Adam Smith and Ben Lewis providing rock solid possession, and in the loose mauls and work on the floor Reeds had the best of it. But the New Milton back row defence was on song as well, too ambitiously at times and it cost them six points from Peter Davidge’s reliable boot. At the change round New Milton led by just the one point, their game plan remained unchanged, most of the possession was kept tight with the back row launching attacks close to the forward support, winning the second phase and grinding play up the park.
But in that ferocious back row battle it was New Milton who conceded two further penalties that put Reeds into a five point lead at the beginning of the third quarter.
Sometimes, factors outside the control of the players play a part, in this case it was the weather, in moments, a sunny day turned into a rainy day and that wasn’t good news for Reeds who love to run the ball from all parts. But, Reeds on the attack put one pass down; New Milton saw their chance, hacked the ball up field and were in by the flag. With twelve point each and fifteen minutes on the clock it was clear that the next score was going to be decisive, it went to New Milton in the cruellest of circumstances, Reeds had wrestled the ball away from a maul in their own 22, young Malcolm Harding had the possession and was try line bound for a certain score, only to find that the Reeds backs were adjudged to be offside and instead of a seven point lead they found themselves three points adrift from the penalty that followed and that was the final outcome.
This was a tough no nonsense New Milton side that fielded some experienced campaigners, Reeds young side will have learned plenty from the day that will serve them well in their league battles.
Next week Reeds are at their home ground in Whiteley Village to face Croydon in their fourth league game of the season