Seasiders falter after promising start

After a promising start to the season, Weston Rugby Club faltered and eventually finished ninth in the league.

WESTON started their 2011/12 season well. By the beginning of November they had won seven of their first 10 matches, but things started to go wrong from there.

By the turn of the year they had achieved only a single further victory, at Newton Abbot, and there was a draw against Dings Crusaders in the Bristol Combination Cup.

It was during that match that they lost their leading points scorer James Mackay. The fly-half tried again four weeks later in the home match against Bridgwater but his hamstring injury re-occurred and he was sidelined for the remainder of the season. This situation gave Paul Redman and his coaching team a severe headache.

After that match against Bridgwater on January 21 which was won by 30 points to eight, the Seasiders would not register a victory until the final match of the season when they overcame Newbury, who were already relegated.

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Their nine successive matches without a win was their worst run since 1967/68, and during that period they were knocked out of the Somerset Cup by Clevedon.

Their league record of 10 wins, a draw and 15 defeats eventually kept their heads above water to finish in ninth place in National 3 South West, exactly as it was in 2010/11.

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In amongst this the club owe a great deal to the outstanding performances by skipper George Sparks. The 30-year-old No 8 always led from the front with his maximum workrate and his 25 appearances took him to 182. Hopefully, his club cap will be awarded next season.

The top appearer was tighthead prop Steve Donegan who played in 28 matches and he was closely followed by his partner in the front row, David Swann (27).

Other leading appearances were made by flanker Jamie Rudkin (26) and wing Matthew Watkins (25), both of which were the top try scorers with 15 each.

Ross Bennett, who eventually switched from scrum-half to full-back appeared 23 times and hooker Craig Withers and flanker George Wright each registered 20.

The leading points scorer was Mackay with 131 in 14 matches followed by Rudkin and Watkins. George Kimmins made a good fist of the fly-half position following Mackay’s departure, and weighed in with 45.

It was encouraging to see Kimmins and fellow colt Harry Jones playing in the back division at first team level and it was interesting to see a newcomer, Sean Disney, who performed well in his 10 matches at scrum-half.

Next season will be a big challenge. It is unfortunate that Rudkin will not be available, having taken a teaching appointment in Devon.

Additionally, it is hoped that lock Ashley Russell’s injury problems will be solved during the summer as will those of Andrew Glen, Matthew Truscott and Mackay.

The United team, under the management of Peter Sloman and Chris Heath and led by Stuart Board, did well to finish sixth in their first season in the Somerset Premier Division, winning 10 and drawing two of their 23 matches.

Most appearances were made by Simon Hudson (20), closely followed by Darren Doughty (19), David Steele (18), Jon Filer, Matthew Burns and Chris Hurd (15 each), Sam Waterman (14), Matthew Deacon (13) and David Taylor, Sam Fisher and Dan Lomax (12 each).

The leading scorer was Chris Young with 99 points including nine tries, 24 conversions and two penalties. George Kimmins kicked 11 conversions and eight penalties in his 46.

Other leading try scorers were James Arnold (7), David Burge, Craig Withers and Hudson (6 each) and Steele and Seb Harris (5 each).

The Athletic, who were affected by injuries in the senior teams, finished in 10th place in Somerset 2 North, winning 11 and losing 13 of their 24 matches.

Managed by Tom Wheatley, the leading points scorer was Dan Prime, whose 127 points in 18 matches included eight tries, 30 conversions and nine penalties. Robbie Hazzard also scored eight tries and one conversion in his 42.

Other top appearers were Henry Monelle and Hazzard (15 each), Rob Blackborow, Richard Frost and Andrew Ballard (14 each), Grahame Hill (13), Darren Burns, Laszlo Noszkay (11 each) and Darren Wheatley (10).

During the season, veteran hooker Grahame Hill took his total Athletic appearances to 306.

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