Double win to ensure safety
By Bob Moore
Thatcham secured their first and only double of the season against Corsham to ensure a healthy margin between themselves and the two bottom sides.
With just one game of the season left to play, Thatcham have a twelve point advantage over Dorchester, so can look forward again to Southern Counties rugby next September. Before then the Henwick Lane club will be looking to make a big recruitment drive as the high injury count has had a huge impact on all three teams this year. But the future looks rosy for Thatcham RFC with some skilled youngsters coming through the junior ranks of the club.
Thatcham dominated the first period and Newbury Building Society man of the match, Tim Apperley was nearly through for an early try but dispossessed just a metre out. Keeping up the pressure, Thatcham’s returning flanker, Chris Dixon, was judged to have made a double movement in grounding over the line. But it was one way traffic in the early stages and Corsham seemed a step behind the pace, so Thatcham’s first score from Danny Shaughnessy, set up by Dixon, came as no surprise, Ollie Black converting.
Black made a long range penalty attempt soon after but it drifted wide and into the second quarter Corsham began to get into their stride. Working up to the Thatcham try line the home side had to manage a determined attack from the visitors, until the half hour mark, when Toby Littlechild, making an all too infrequent appearance at full back, intercepted just inside the home 22. With threequarters of the pitch to cover he looked for support, but none came and he seemed sure to be caught, but just managed to get the ball down by the corner flag to put Thatcham 12 – 0 up. It had been against the run of play, but Corsham were reeling and went further behind two minutes later as Derek Allan took a good line, doing all the hard work with a fine break to set up Brandon Davies to stretch his legs and run clear. Ollie Black added the extras for a 19 – 0 lead on the half hour.
Corsham enjoyed a good period in the final minutes of the half, but failed to get points, thanks to solid Thatcham defensive work and some characteristically uncompromising tackles from Derek Allan and Marty Butler in the centres.
Thatcham were quick off the mark at the re-start with a penalty from Ollie Black, but this was the signal for a Corsham revival as they entered their best period of the game. They certainly stepped it up, with the wind in their favour, taking advantage of a penalty award to drive deep for a lineout and try in the corner, very well converted. Now it was Corsham in the driving seat and Thatcham were rocked back. Fifteen minutes in and another penalty, lineout and shove over brought the score to 22 – 14 after another fine conversion in difficult conditions. Corsham had found belief and aggression that had not been apparent earlier. But Thatcham gradually worked their way back with another gritty display from the pack. The lineout had been uncertain in the strong wind and both packs were evenly matched in set pieces. But led by the utterly dependable Matt Langdon at loose head, Thatcham clawed their way back into the Corsham half. Another Black penalty with fifteen minutes left completed the scoring, but Corsham had by now done all they could and it was the home side’s turn to tighten the screw for the final few minutes. Thatcham’s bonus point try looked to be about to materialise as Thatcham were camped on the Corsham line, but it was not to be as Shaughnessy was carded for an infringement and the chance was lost, with Thatcham playing out the game with 14 men for the last five minutes.
Next week, Thatcham travel to Devizes for their final game of the season.
1. Matt Langdon; 2. Ben Walton; 3. James Thorogood; 4. Tim Apperley; 5. Rich Browne; 6. Nathan Kanaar-Brown; 7. Chris Dixon (65, Graham Keep); 8. Mark Smith; 9. Danny Shaughnessy; 10. Ollie Black; 11. Ash Swaisland; 12. Marty Butler; 13. Derek Allan; 14. Brandon Davies; 15. Toby Littlechild.
Replacements not used: Sean Richardson; David Hamilton.
Tries: Shaughnessy; Davies; Littlechild
Conversion: Black (2)
Penalties: Black (2)