A MATCH TO FORGET
Report by Graham Pratt
In truth this was a game that Rochford will want to put behind them as they did not play well and made too many basic errors against a pumped-up Woodford outfit that had something to prove.
The positives were another bonus point victory and the continuation of their unbeaten run. The other plus was the dominance of their set scrum without which this game would have been even harder.
In wet and dreary conditions which made ball handling difficult Woodford got off to a great start as they forced the early pace and were rewarded with a try.
Rochford tried to counter their aggression but kept making silly mistakes after doing some good work. Having said that some powerful play pushed Woodford back into defence and big second row Luke Court-Rhind drove through to even the score.
The visitors did attack on a number of occasions but a least two or three tries went begging through final pass errors or wrong options.
Scrum half Ricki Gould had a torrid time at the loose where Woodford’s forwards were allowed offside on a number of occasions and Rochford must take some flack as they were too loose in this area although they tightened this up later.
There were moments of good rugby in this mostly error ridden game and one of these was Rochford’s next try which was a gem.
From deep infield the ball past through many quick hands to finally reach number eight Stuart Whatling who raced over to put down under the posts. The try was converted by Marcus Spremulli who came in last minute in the centre when captain Matt Stewart had to withdraw through injury just before the kick off.
The home team responded by applying more pressure and went over for a converted try. Just before the break they then rubbed salt into Rochford’s wounds by scoring another try which was duly converted and they turned around 19 -12 ahead.
Good teams have the ability to regroup and knuckle down even when they are not playing well, and this is what the boys in black did. Character showed through and, although, it was not a pretty second half, Rochford did what they had to do.
adam ferrier came on from the bench and soon made his presence felt with some powerful drives. One of these opened up for him and he scorched over for a terrific try. Spremulli added the extra and the visitors were back level again.
This time they were determined to keep in front and played a lot tighter and with better control especially in the scrummage where they forced Woodford into errors of their own.
The lineouts were messy with both sides scrambling for possession although Court- Rhind, Dan Sowter and Whatling worked tirelessly all afternoon.
A few more attacking moves broke down before, at last, one came off as wing Mitch Bennett ran in for a try and which Spremulli converted. Rochford were now 26-19 ahead with a bonus point in the bag.
The game however, was far from secure as the home team never gave up and continued to cause trouble nearly scoring again themselves.
Late in the half Rochford were awarded a penalty and after much debate it was decided to kick for goal which would mean Woodford having to score twice.
Rochford opted to take the kick and Marcus Spremulli slotted it sweetly over. For those that are interested in statistics this was the first time this season that a penalty kick has been taken for goal as all points have come from tries and conversions.
That fact only showed the determination and seriousness of winning these close games and has been one of a very few matches that the boys have been really tested, so well done.
This dire game came to a conclusion and the team can take satisfaction that they can play that poorly but still come away with maximum points.
Next week off and a good time to reflect and recharge batteries for further hard games to come, especially against Camberley in three weeks’ time.
Just a reminder for supporters to get their names down and tickets bought for the coach 24th February.