Rochford 19 v 46 Thames
AT the request of Rochford, Thames agreed to reverse their league fixture to an away game at Rochford. The Thames team line up was again changed due to venue change and work commitments but with three guest players stepping up they travelled to Rochford with a side that they felt would continue their new season.
Thames started off strong with bursts through the Rochford centres by Matthew Vallis and Ben Butler, only to force the finishing pass which resulted in Rochford turn overs. As Rochford cleared their lines Full Back Max Clarke collected the kick, his pace was no match for Rochford and he ran around the outside to score the first try of the match.
Rochford came back at Thames with two tries, both scored through their forwards and almost identical from attacking lineouts. From the line outs Rochford’s forward formed driving mauls and their pressure was too much for Thames to with stand.
Despite the two tries Thames had the larger portion of territory and this affected the Rochford discipline picking up a yellow card for persistent infringement. Rochford were giving away too many penalties in crucial areas of the pitch and it was from one penalty that Mark O’Connell crossed the Rochford line after Thames had worked the ball well and O’Connell was too strong to stop.
Thames scored a third try just before half time when the forwards hit up several times before Matthew Hook released the backs. Vallis found the gap again in the Rochford line to score. At half time Thames led their hosts 15 -12 but were not happy with the structure of their play.
Thames was first to strike after 20 minutes when O’Connell linked up with Liam Smith to open up the right wing of Rochford, with Smith finishing the move diving over the line. Only Minutes late Clarke again showed his pace and side step, as he jinked his way through three Rochford tackles to touch down under the posts. Clarke added the extra points from the kicking tee.
Two minutes later Rochford found themselves standing under their posts again. From the restart Thames forwards went route one and after two good rucks Adam Napper broke free and sprinted in under the posts. Clarke had no trouble adding another two points. Thames was to score a third time all within ten minutes, when Vallis scored his second. Coming from the restart again the forwards made inroads into the Rochford half, Hook passed to Vallis who dummied his opposite number and ran in under the posts. Clarke for a third time had no trouble with the conversion.
Full credit to Rochford they hadn’t given up and were determined to keep the game a contest. Rochford got themselves down with 5 metres of the Thames line and from a penalty they forced their way over but despite Thames’ appeals for a held up try Rochford were awarded their third try of the match.
As last play was called Thames had a scrum 10 metres out from the Rochford line. The obvious decision would be to run the ball off the field to bring the game to a close but Thames had other ideas. The ball was passed out from the scrum and the backs attacked the far side wing. As the forwards arrived they took the ball on and worked three phases. Edging ever closer it was Napper that saw a gap and powered his way over the line.
Thames scored 8 tries to Rochford’s 3 winning 46 – 19. Thames awarded their man of the match to Matthew Hook at scrum half. Hook was not just playing his first game for Thames but making his senior game debut, at no time did he look out of place, his control and variation in play helped keep Thames moving forward and the final score.