Reeds Prevail in An Epic Battle of 2 Halves
PAPA JOHNS CUP – SOUTH PLATE SEMI FINAL
REEDS WEYBRIDGE 40 TRURO 35
A huge crowd at Reeds Whiteley Village ground last Saturday witnessed Reeds Weybridge in dominant form during the first half but clinging on desperately to save the game in the closing moments. Reeds had expected that the aggressive and bigger West country forwards would give Reeds a hard time, and that certainly was the case with all their scores coming through their forward pack. Any sense that Truro would be tired from their long trip were quickly dispelled in the opening exchanges where Truro, up the slope, laid siege to Reeds line and it was hooker Louis Powell who wrestled his way over the line for a seven pointer.
But the visitors couldn’t maintain that early advantage, the young Day brothers and Josh Brown up front went into attack mode with Reeds surprisingly having the edge in the scrum and doing well generally in the set piece. This provided plenty of quality possession, that allowed Reeds to drive play deep into Truro territory, Alex Corner No 8 was stopped just short of the try line from a 5 metres scrum and fly half Jack Jesty collected the pass to level the scores at 7 – 7. It was clear from those early exchanges that Reeds had the edge out wide, young Marcus Clark the winger, has the ability to capitalise on pockets of space with his mesmerising footwork, then to accelerate away with blistering pace, he collected Reeds second try of the day with a great ‘in and out’ move that bamboozled two defenders allowing him to win the race for the corner flag to make it 12 – 7. Reeds had fielded a talented back division that included full back Ethan Taylor returning from injury, he is a gain line breaker with a devastating side step, and he was the instigator of Reeds third try, that started within Reeds 22, Taylor fed Clark who was stopped just short, with a high tackle and Reeds were awarded a penalty try with Truro going down to 14 men. 19 – 7 Reeds. On the other side of the park, Reeds fielded Kitan Ojo, he has speed, size and power, he re-gathered a nicely weighted clearing box kick from scrum half Ollie Palmer and broke away from a loose tackle, the defence tried to bounce him into touch but he is a ruthless finisher and Reeds clocked up try No 4 in short order. 26 – 7 Reeds. There was more to come in what was a critical 15-minute purple spell before the end of the first half and there was no doubt about the try of the day, it was scored by Matt Stephenson the centre, he collected a long, weighted, pass from Jesty within the Reeds 22 which cut out the advancing 10 for Truro, he has so many skills, pace, balance and awareness that took him through the defence and under the sticks for a converted try. Half time 33 – 7 with Truro looking dead and buried.
That remarkable score combined with another solo score late on, together with some steely defence earned him the Man of the Match Award, the first time a player has collected that accolade in successive weeks.
At the change round, Reeds had to face the slope but with a comfortable twenty-six-point lead. Both sides knew the next score would be pivotal but it was Truro who responded with a tremendous fight back that saw Reeds locked in their own half for most of the remainder of the game. Their first score came when the second half was only minutes old. Reeds allowed the visitors to get back into the game, those big West country forwards rumbled forward and the Truro No 8, Jack Tidball, bulldozed his way over the line, it was a huge morale boosting try for the visitors. Moments later, a repeat performance from that giant Truro pack, they shunted Reeds backwards, referee Huntley decided that Reeds had stopped the charge illegally and it was a seven-point penalty try. Reeds comfortable points advantage was now down to a tenuous twelve-point lead at 33 – 19. Perhaps the defining score of the day came from Matt Stephenson, Truro was on the attack deep in Reeds territory, the ball went loose, Stephenson kicked the ball up the park with the Truro defence in hot pursuit, did so again the ball staying in a straight line, to allow him to touch down for a seven pointer and a nineteen-point lead at 40 – 19.
At this point, there was still twenty minutes on the clock and Truro clearly sensed they could still come back into the game, Reeds were locked into defensive mode deep in their own territory with the big Truro forwards hammering on the door aided by a raft of refereeing decisions which were almost only going one way. Two more Truro tries, one of them a penalty try, the other once again from their 8 off the back of a 5metre scrum, had the visitors just five points short, at 40 – 35 with Reeds down again to 14 men and around 10 minutes to go. A converted try would give them the game it was a desperate defensive position for Reeds, with Reed repelling a 5-metre scrum, a catch and drive and a tap and go with the desperate energy of a man fighting for his life. Another scrum five metres out, Truro won the ball, but agonisingly, for the visitors, the scrum half knocked the ball forward and referee Billy Huntley called time to the relief of everyone in Reeds colours.
Man of the Match for a successive week, Matt Stephenson
Team: Josh Brown / Rhys Day / Lennan Day / Herbie Finn (capt) / Cameron Goodwin / Luke Edwards / Simon Fozard / Alex Corner / Ollie Palmer / Jack Jesty / Marcus Clark / Jonathan Rogers / Matthew Stephenson / Kitan Ojo / Ethan Taylor / Shannon Fullen / Ollie Tack / Toby Rawding / Lewis Jones / Joe Wastie / Ross Stratton/ Josh Clark
The final will be played at the Stone X on 6th May at 3pm with Reeds facing Battersea Ironsides who beat Old Reigatian 20 – 13 in the other semi-final.
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