Worthing traveled up to Surrey to play their NatWest Vase match against an energetic Howard of Effingham side. The weather had cleared somewhat from the hail and lightening that the Blues had travelled through on their way up the A24 and the early kick off managed to get the best of the light and what little warmth there was on offer.
The Blues started playing plenty of rugby but in the wrong part of the field and the home side had a couple of shots at goal as the official set out his stall for the day. Worthing however managed to progress up the field and gain the benefit of the whistle, Gibson knocking over the first 3 of the 22points accrued on the day. This was instantly wiped out by a well struck penalty for the home side. 3-3 the score.
Much of the match was being played in the middle third of the pitch and it was a good kick forward from Doughty putting the 15 under pressure, he played the ball into touch for a Worthing throw. Some excellent quick thinking by Swift followed as he threw the ball in and Doughty was there to gather and dive in for the 5. This took it to 8-3 Blues, this is how it remained to the half.
At the half the decision was made to play in the opposition half, kick for line out and pressure the dangerous attacking flair of the home side. This was brought into play directly from the restart. A good deep kick off pressured by the kick chase and forcing a fumble lead to a Blues scrum 20m out and in front of the horns. Masham picked up and fed Doughty who in turn nudged the ball towards the in goal area. Tessier showed some toe to get to the ball before the cover defense. Gibson added the extras, 15-3 Blues.
The half developed with Worthing pressuring the HofE line out, with Captain Lake taking a number off the opposition leaving no real platform to build from. While the catch and drive was not used to its fullest Worthing did make strides forward and started taking the game to the smaller pack.
It was at about this stage that the Blues incurred the wrath of the whistle and gave away 9 consecutive penalties. The 6th of which put Mills in the bin. The Blues missed his energy and line out work which had been excellent throughout. Defense was again the name of the game and the Blues managed to hold out against the onslaught of wave after wave of attack. However the decision to play in the right areas of the field was paying off as the home side didn’t have one kickable chance at goal in the entire half and entered the Blues 22m on only 3 occasions. Testament indeed to the defensive work that has been occurring in recent weeks.
Beecham came on after Swift was hit late and went off as a precaution. It was then that Beecham kicked the Blues down the field very well and pressured the HofE 15 again and again. The ball bounced on more than one occasion and this was more than Worthing needed to keep the game in the HofE portion of the field.
Worthing endured strong counter attack and phase attack however penalties included, they never really looked like being breached.
After another good searching kick Worthing turned over the HofE ruck centre field. The ball was moved from Gibson to Masham to Doughty and finally onto Bathurst crossing near the 15m line for another 5pointer and again converted for a Worthing 22-3 score line.
The front row of Trevis, Gibson and Hrydynskyy dominated in the scrum collision. Taking ball against the head and giving a great platform to attack from. Calleja added when he changed up for Hrydynskyy and although they didn’t make the metres with the ball they may have hoped, the line out and scrum work was good. The second row went well with Mills taking his, line out ball and making plenty of tackles. Hassan carried well on occasions and made an impact when hitting the rucks. Lake lead by example and made numerous tackles and thwarted many attacks. Packham was irritating over the ball and allowed our defensive line to get into position throughout the first half and this work was continued as his replacement Bathurst came on. Bathurst linked well and finished off a great move to score the third and final try. Doughty bossed the forwards and kicked the team forward. Swift lead the defensive line well and began to run the team well as he again grew in confidence. As did his replacement Beecham who kicked the Blues into the opposition half well. The Centres Fogerty and Deschamps were good on both attack and defence. Both a threat with the ball and thorn in the side of the HofE side. The back 3 again delivered when giving the chance, Evans growing into the role of 15, with the power of Harkin and speed of Tessier not giving the opposition a chance to settle. Hammond made a solid impression when he came on as did Mitchell for the few minutes they were on at the end of the match.
Worthing showed more promise and that plenty of development has taken place since the last U18 fixture. More to come though!