But all said and done, this group of players, a number of whom might have started the season playing 2nd or 3rd team rugby acquitted themselves well against a side that was full of running. Fitness certainly played a part as the clock ran down, when Devizes ran in a further four tries in the space of a quarter of an hour.
Thatcham have undoubtedly been hit hard by injuries and travel times as the season progressed, although Devizes is something of a local derby compared to most away trips in this league. But despite unavailabilities, the Thatcham front row was a match for Devizes for a large part of this game and credit to Sam Swann, this week’s Newbury Building Society man of the match, and to Graham Armstrong for helping ensure a good share of possession for the visitors.
But Devizes were clinical on the break and having won the ball in midfield they moved it wide with pace and were across the visitors’ line for a seven pointer inside two minutes. It was only five minutes before they’d done it again showing off a combination of speed, good lines of running and support play, so their rapid progress to a 10 – 0 lead looked ominous for Thatcham. But the visitors were seeing plenty of the ball and looking useful in possession, and quickly reduced the deficit as Charlie Lutterloch put Louis Kanaar-Brown in for the try.
Thatcham enjoyed a better spell and on the half hour mark Marty Butler set up Brandon Davies for a fine run in from just inside the Devizes half to bring the score back to 14 – 10. Thatcham were winning a lot of penalties, but not really penetrating deep enough to get a proper sniff at points. It looked like the score would remain unchanged into half-time, but with just two minutes left, Devizes created space down the left wing for the score to advance to 19 - 10 at the break.
Re-starting at 19 –10 the game slipped away from Thatcham quickly as the home side played some great one two’s. Devizes were slipping off the tackles and had progressed to 33 – 10 after only five minutes. Soon after, opting for a lineout from the penalty, Thatcham’s no 8, Tim Apperley, found a gap and grounded under the posts, Ollie Black converting to make it 33 - 17. But Thorogood was off with an injury by now and Apperley followed within a few minutes. The rest of it was hard graft for the visitors as Devizes cut loose and had little difficulty running through a tiring Thatcham side. So it was good to see a spirited performance from Graham Keep maintaining vocal encouragement for teammates through to the final whistle. A further four tries for Devizes was just reward for their superiority in the closing stages.
The season is now done and dusted, so time to re-group, re-fresh, reinforce and re-train over the next four months. Next season Thatcham can expect to face Swindon who have been relegated from SW1 and the promoted teams will be Combe Down (Bath) and Swanage & Wareham.
1. Sam Swann; 2. Graham Armstrong; 3. James Thorogood (Ben Walton); 4. Graham Keep; 5. Rich Browne; 6. Louis Kanaar-Brown; 7. George Seymour (Charlie Rayner); 8. Tim Apperley; 9. Danny Shaughnessy; 10. Ollie Black; 11. Ash Swaisland (Sean Richardson); 12. Marty Butler; 13. Derek Allan; 14. Brandon Davies; 15. Charlie Lutterloch.
Tries: Kanaar-Brown; Davies; Apperley