Windsor shade Henwick ten try thriller
Thatcham 35 Windsor 37
Windsor are the in-form team at the moment and if results go their way, are still gunning for a second place finish that will provide the chance of a play off spot and possible quick return to South West 1 next year. It was always going to be a tough call for Thatcham and when they went to 7 - 22 down after half an hour it looked as if the game was slipping away. But Thatcham kept coming back and in the end only had themselves to blame for not nicking this ten try thriller.
Starting brightly, Thatcham's Butler, Smith and Chambers worked the ball into the Windsor 22. No 8, Smith, picked up at the back of the scrum and put Joe Leadley in to shimmy his way through to score and add the extras for an early seven point lead. Windsor reduced the deficit quickly with a well taken long range penalty from full back, Gaynor. A sloppy offload resulted in further pressure from the visitors, but at the next attempt Gaynor put his penalty shot wide. But Windsor were getting into their stride with some patient and controlled teamwork and neat offloads putting Thatcham under pressure. The home side defended well but eventually Windsor found the gap, taking a good line for Baggett to score and the conversion put the visitors into a 7 - 10 lead with fifteen minutes gone.
Windsor enjoyed a good spell for the next quarter, but a chip forward from Windsor's Cullen looked to have gone too long until the Thatcham defence were beaten by the bounce. It should have been a safe grounding for the home side, but instead added a further 7 points to the visitors' tally. Windsor were making the running at this stage and Thatcham made matters difficult for themselves with unforced errors. With most possession and a penalty count in their favour, Windsor gained a man advantage too when Thatcham winger Sean Richardson was carded for a deliberate knock on. Re-starting wide from 5 metres Windsor went over the line again to put a bit of daylight between the teams at 7 - 22.
At this critical point in the game it could have slipped away from the home side, but awarded a penalty, Thatcham went for the line out option and a fine catch and drive saw Chris Dixon get the touch down. Leadley missed the wide conversion, but a couple of minutes later made amends with a penalty from the 22 to bring the scores back to 15 - 22. As the half came to a close, Windsor bagged another try and conversion to increase the margin to 14 points, still a long way to come back for Thatcham.
The second period started with a firecracker as Thatcham exploded out of the blocks when Newbury Building Society man of the match Danny Shaughnessy, at scrum half, danced 30 metres through the Windsor defence to put Joe Leadley clean away to go under the posts for a seven pointer. Now it was game on, and Thatcham hadn't just stayed in touch but clawed their way back with a flawless third quarter. First, Nick Rance went over after the forwards had won the line out and driven into good position. No conversion, but Thatcham were humming and Mark Smith was next to run through the visitors' defence winning a penalty on the 22 for Shaughnessy to convert and put the home side back into the narrowest of leads, 30 - 29.
With only ten minutes left on the clock Windsor raised their game again, forcing the penalty and opting for the line out. A catch and drive saw them re-take the lead but without the conversion, 30 - 34 with five minutes left. It was at this point that a bit of Thatcham ill discipline cost, when a kickable penalty was made so much easier for Windsor as Thatcham were marched back ten. 30 - 37 and just time for a last gasp revival from Thatcham, this time benefiting from a Windsor yellow card, but with only two minutes remaining. Winning two successive penalties and line outs, Thatcham's Leadley went over for his third, but the angle for the kick beat him, to leave it a tantalising 35 - 37 at the final whistle. In the end Thatcham had to console themselves with two bonus points, but the spirited fight back had made for an enthralling spectacle and promises a bright run in for the remainder of the season.
1. David Chambers (Jack Caunt); 2. Jamie Evans; 3, Lewis Davies; 4. Tim Apperley; 5. Rich Browne (Jack Moore); 6. Martyn Doolin; 7. Chris Dixon; 8. Mark Smith; 9. Danny Shaughnessy; 10. Joe Leadley; 11. Liam Rowland; 12. Derek Allan; 13, Marty Butler; 14. Sean Richardson (Ashley Swaisland); 15. Nick Rance
Tries: Leadley (3); Dixon; Rance;
Conversions: Leadley (2)
Penalties: Leadley; Shaughnessy