Seasiders' season disrupted by a long list of injuries

PUBLISHED: 09:25 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 09:25 16 May 2014

David Swann. Photo: Andrew Collins.

David Swann. Photo: Andrew Collins.

Archant

A long list of injuries disrupted Weston's season, not helping towards their worst finish in 14 years.

WESTON experienced their worst season for 14 years in the recent campaign.

They endured seven successive league defeats between November 23 and February 15, but unlike a similar situation in 2000/01 when they were relegated, David Swann and his team finished the season with a brace of victories to finish in ninth place from 14.

It has to be said that the season was truncated by a long list of injuries which were a major factor in the final reckoning.

Important players such as Ashley Russell played in only 12 matches and his second row partner Andrew Glen appeared in just 14. Then there was George Sparks who missed 11 fixtures.

There were also many others, too numerous to mention, but the fact was that the club’s strength in depth was wanting.

There also appeared to be a general fitness problems with the team conceding late scores such as that at Old Redcliffians, Bracknell, Redingensians and Amersham. And even in the final match of the season against Old Patesians, the visitors scored 12 points in time added and could well have snatched victory.

In addition to all of this, there was disappointment in the Somerset Cup when they were defeated in the semi-final by North Petherton.

But on the positive side, Swann and his front row colleagues survived, the skipper making 26 appearances, David Price, now equally adept on either side of the scrum (25), hooker Craig Withers (23), Phil Hobbs (15) and Steve Donegan with 10 matches off the bench.

Top of the list was Sam Smee (27), who moved from centre to scrum-half, and other major appearers were lock Dave Bufton (24), centre Sylvan Edwards and No 7 Paul Morrissey (23 each).

There were also 22 matches by 20-year-old centre Harry Jones who added to his promise with seven tries. Talking of youngsters, another to impress was Ben Cox, aged 19, who joined the club in January and quickly made the No 6 jersey his own.

The Seasiders’ try scoring was also down on the previous season. They only managed 77 against 148 in the 2012/13 campaign, Bufton and Sparks topping the list with eight.

Jones, Smee and Withers scored seven each, closely followed by Morrissey (6) and Harvey Skelton and Glen (four each).

Once again, fly-half James Mackay was the leading points scorer with 194 in 19 matches, taking his career total to 1,147 in 118 appearances. It was a pity that he too missed seven games through injury.

So having avoided relegation, the club can now look forward to their 27th season in the national leagues.

In 2014/15, they will reacquaint themselves with Oxford Harlequins, Bournemouth and Exmouth, together with Hornets and Chard, who were the top teams in South West 1.

The United and Athletic teams suffered as a result of the club’s aforementioned injury problems, but both produced reasonable returns.

The United XV, led by Paul Sprague, won 13 of their 26 matches in the Somerset Premier division to finish in sixth place from 14.

Most appearances were made by prop Jake Whatley with 25, closely followed by full-back Adam Godfrey (21), utility back Chris Young (20) and Oliver Caton (19).

Centre Luke Blizzard led the points scoring with 111 and Caton was the top try scorer with 12.

Grahame Hill’s Athletic team finished sixth from 12 in Somerset 2 North, winning 12 of their 22 matches.

Leading appearances were made by Joe McGrath (20), Hill (19), veteran Barry Sparks (17) and 15 each by Robbie Blackborrow and Will Hunt.

Dan Lomax led the points scoring with 70 and former colt Troy Hannam was the leading try scorer with 12.

From these statistics it is interesting to note that 61-year-old Barry Sparks has now played in 257 matches for the United, 106 for the Athletic, in addition to his 221 appearances for the first XV.

Skipper Hill has reached 338 matches for the Athletic to go with 76 for the 1st XV and 235 for the United.

So following a mixed season, the club has survived on the field and will still have much to celebrate at their annual dinner at the clubhouse tomorrow night (Fri).

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