Thatcham slip into the red
By Nick Rance
It came as no surprise after Saturday’s defeat that Thatcham slipped finally into the relegation zone, one above bottom club Bradford on Avon, the only club with fewer points for at this stage of the season
The points against total tells a similar story with only the bottom club and Dorchester having conceded more, so the upcoming home games against Yeovil and Bradford on Avon before Christmas are looking like must wins if Thatcham is to maintain its status and rebuild in the Southern Counties League.
In fact, Thatcham had been able to field a stronger than expected looking side on paper against the Old Boys, but once again were overcome by the power and penetration of some of the opposition playmakers, notably the No. 8 and outside centre, both men proving a continuous thorn in the home defence. This Thatcham side is lacking one or two big men who can take it on and hold it up when necessary, and crucially have struggled to take the points when the line beckons. Swindon took the early lead with a try from their no. 8, but Thatcham had the better of much of the first half. In an improved showing, Thatcham maintained pressure for good spells in the first period, but failed to profit. Winning penalties, the home side found themselves with repeated line outs on 5 metres but couldn’t capitalise, and it was thanks to the boot of Charlie Lutterloch that Thatcham reduced the deficit then snatched a one point lead after half an hour, the first a long range effort from beyond the 10 metre line, the second, plumb centre.
Before that there had been some terrific breaks from this week’s Newbury Building Society man of the match, Derek Allan, doing well to shrug off his injury at Sherborne, coupled with some resolute defensive play. Marty Butler saw too little of the ball but showed his mettle when in possession, and Ash Swaisland looked set to score, but put a foot in touch a couple of metres out. The Old Boys’ lock took a yellow and Rich Browne put in a storming run, taken on by Allan and Butler, but Thatcham failed to challenge the Swindon line, despite them being reduced to 14 men. Another penalty attempt from Lutterloch was the closest they came to a score, but it went wide. Still holding a slender 6 – 5 lead going into the last minute off the half Thatcham conceded a seven pointer on the stroke of half time as the Old Boys’ winger found space out wide to run behind the defence and ground under the posts.
Resuming with the score at 6 – 12 it all looked to play for, but Swindon powered away in the first fifteen minutes with two converted tries, first from the flanker working a clear run through and then the no 8 on a charge from the 10 metre line. Dispiriting stuff and at four tries to nil down, Thatcham staged a mini revival with a break from Shaughnessy and Browne taking them up to the line. Matt Langdon and Chris Dixon came close, but Thatcham kept up the pressure and moved across the backs for a fine long pass from Allan to put Marty Butler away to cross the line at last, but the conversion was missed.
Sadly the home side’s revival was shortlived and Lutterloch was unlucky to get a yellow, before Swindon killed it off with two further scores, the second thanks to the no 8 once again galloping through from forty metres. Dan Tangle snatched a deserved score at the death, but it was scant consolation for another 6 try to 2 mauling.