Thatcham Rugby Club were defeated in a close encounter away against Wallingford on Saturday, writes Matthew Brown.
The hosts – who had defeated Thatcham 15-11 at Henwick in December – once again came out as victors with the same four point margin in an interesting Southern Counties North league clash.
Wallingford dominated the opening 15 minutes and went forward regularly but it was Joe Leadley who had the first chance to score points for Thatcham with a long range penalty for the visitors that went just wide.
At the midpoint of the half, Thatcham worked deep into the home 22 with Danny Shaughnessy and Jamie Evans combing well to put Liam Rowland into the gap with a good run from five metres, but the pass failed to stick.
Thatcham continued to be resilient in defence against a surging Wallingford side but when the visitors did take control, Tim Apperley made a fine run through to make 30 metres but was hauled down 15 metres short.
The two teams went in at the break 0-0 and after the restart, Wallingford continued where they had left off from the first half.
Thatcham were once again resistant, however the deadlock was broken when the referee brought the game back for an infringement on seven metres.
The defence failed to organise and the Wallingford scrum half Ralph Smith simply ran in to score left of the posts.
Wallingford’s conversion attempt came back off the upright, putting the hosts into a 5-0 lead.
Despite losing captain Matt Langdon to injury and subsequent reshuffle, Thatcham started to move the ball well.
A last pass that would have put Rowland through broke down but the game was brought back for a penalty which Leadley duly converted to get Thatcham’s first points.
Wallingford then scored a penalty with Thatcham hitting back to make it 8-6 at the end of the third quarter.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Wallingford’s Carl Tappin made a break on the 22 and put James Springer away for a well worked try and conversion, making the score 15-6.
Thatcham fought back with another penalty and drove to the line with man of the match Lewis Davies getting the touch down.
The conversion however was charged down as Leadley had took too long with his run up.
Wallingford held out for the win with Thatcham eager to make amends in the final home game of the season next Saturday against Aylesbury at Henwick.