TWRFC 1ST XV (15) v BOURNEMOUTH RFC 1STXV (3)
Match reporter: Roger Clarke
Wells made a number of changes for this first home game of 2024 following the narrow win at Brighton the week before. There were changes in the front row due to injury, to the second row due to unavailability, and to the back row as skipper Nick Doherty hit the injured list, and at full back where brother Mike returned after injury to Sam Williams and took over the captain’s armband. Jake Thompson – a past crowd favourite – came onto the bench.
With this number of changes it was of little surprise that the home sides early exchanges were a little disjointed featuring some technically poor kicking which Bournemouth were also guilty of to an extent. As a result both sides defences came to the fore and the Wells found it difficult to get past the halfway line. Indeed the visitors should have gone ahead after 15 mins when a relatively easy penalty kick was mishit by fly half Grant Hancox.
Wells gave away a flurry of penalties in the first quarter which disrupted the continuity of play and things got worse as the quarter came to an end with Ali Main being given a yellow card for a high tackle.
The home side survived the first quarter through some sound tackling from the back row and the centres particularly but had not been out of their own half. However, the yellow card period was negotiated with no conceded score and as the side started to put the ball through the hands more progressed down the slope. Wells also prospered at the line out with Whale and Crichton stealing ball after some inaccurate throwing by the Bournemouth hooker.
With the half coming to an end apparently in stalemate Max Hobbs almost got away down the right touchline but was ankle tapped just as he looked to have broken through. Wells continued though to occupy a higher field position and as the game approached the last 5 minutes Ben Day calmly kicked a 35 metre penalty from the right to give Wells a 3 point lead.
With half time beckoning Wells conceded their 8th penalty of the game and Hiscox made no mistake to make the halftime score 3-3 which was a fair reflection of the first 40 minutes play. It was clear that if the Wells were to win this game they needed more ball in hand and fewer penalties conceded in the second half, and true to form this is what they did as from the kick off 4 phases of play saw second row Sam Crichton go over from a maul to get the try which Ben Day kicked 10-3.
Wells continued to keep the ball in hand and after applying pressure were awarded a penalty on the 22 in front of goal which they opted to scrum. The ball was moved wide from this position and for the first and only time in the afternoon the home side got around the back of the Bournemouth defence for right wing Tom Webster to score in the corner for an unconverted try 15-3.
The hunt was then on for four tries and a bonus point and Wells proceeded for 15 minutes to camp on or in the visitors 22. Ben Isbell was held up over the line, Max Hobbs missed a try in the left corner by a whisker and Jay Smith and Ben Whale came within a metre but couldn’t get the ball over the line through an inspired and spirited Bournemouth defence.
Fulltime came with Wells still camped in the visitors 22 but with no further score for a competent but not inspired 15-3 win on a day where both sides defences were to the fore and with Wells not conceding a try.
Next week sees a rest before Wells have a huge game at Camberley – the only side to leave St Marks with a win this season. Analysis this week will no doubt look at the penalty count conceded and lines of running in attack whilst the rest week could well bring some players recovered from injury into the selection mix.
Man of the Match nominated by Bournemouth for his tireless performance in defence and attack was No 7 Jay Smith