Poor defending cost Seasiders victory

PUBLISHED: 17:29 14 November 2010

AFTER a loose start, Weston had taken a narrow lead by the eighth minute of the second half. But poor defending saw Oxford Quins add two more tries to their first half score to run out deserved winners.

Oxford Harlequins 20 pts

Weston 14 pts

AFTER a loose start, Weston had taken a narrow lead by the eighth minute of the second half. But poor defending saw Oxford Quins add two more tries to their first half score to run out deserved winners.

The hosts were gifted an early score when Weston failed to find the touchline with a clearance and when the ball was run back, No 8 Jason Wellburn touched down for Jeff Steward to convert.

The Quins lost Alex Maspero to the bin in the 23rd minute and as the scrum-half was returning, centre Martin Nutt was also yellow carded.

But Weston were unable to take full advantage until just before the break when debutant centre Jonathan Gallagher’s strength took him through several tackles. When he was halted, possession was quickly recycled and the ever-alert George Wright score wide out.

James Mackay was unable to convert but early in the second half his penalty gave the Seasiders a single point advantage. But Quins hit back straight away when Nutt was allowed to run through the centre for an individual score.

Weston responded with a dart by Ross Bennett which put the hosts under pressure for the following 10 minutes, during which the hosts conceded five penalties near their own line.

There was no hint of a penalty try being awarded by referee Simon Bradford as skipper George Sparks, Steve Donegan and Paul Sprague all went close but home fly-half Stewart became the third Oxford player to be dispatched to the bin.

But not only were the visitors unable to crack a solid defence, Quins were able to break away in the 66th minute when wing Xavier Andre ran 65 metres to score the try which sent Weston to eventual defeat.

Flanker Wright was able to prevent the score being touched down under the posts and the conversion failed, and Mackay brought the match back to 17-11 with a well-struck penalty to give Weston a glimmer of hope.

Stewart returned from the bin to kick a similar score but Mackay’s third penalty salvaged a losing bonus point.

Weston: J Waterman, K Middlemiss, J Reid, J Gallagher, P Sprague, J Mackay, R Bennett, D Swann, D Burge, S Donegan, A Richards, A Russell, G Wright, G Simpson (J Rudkin 68), G Sparks (c). Reps not used: L Grimes, H Warman.

This was not a good performance by Weston. Apart from the defensive lapses, two moves in the second half could have saved the day, but poor alignment and timing resulted in a brace of forward passes.

There was a promising debut by Gallagher and some intelligent covering by scrum-half Bennett but in general, the midfield failed to function.

As usual, Sparks and his pack performed well but things will have to improve on Saturday when bottom club Cleve will be the visitors to the Recreation Ground (2.30pm).

Weston’s 1st XV touch judge Robert Harris completed his fifth New York City marathon last week in a new personal best time of three hours 58 minutes and 51 seconds.

This was his 10th marathon in four years during which time he has raised in excess of £20,000 for the NSPCC, Disabled Children, Cancer Care and Children with Leukaemia.

Harris (50), a former Weston player who made over 300 appearances for the club’s Athletic XV will be running again next year.

He will start off in Marrakesh in January and Boston in April which will be the third leg of five majors in which he will be running in 18 months.

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