Three late tries take Seasiders to victory

AT the end of normal time at the Recreation Ground, Weston were trailing by four points and Oxford Harlequins were looking like narrow winners.

WESTON 34 pts


AT the end of normal time at the Recreation Ground, Weston were trailing by four points and Oxford Harlequins were looking like narrow winners.

But the Seasiders put in one final effort to, first of all re-take the lead, then add two more tries for good measure.

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The hosts had led in the 20th minute with Gavin Simpson’s pushover try, converted by James Mackay who then added a penalty to take him past 150 points for the season But by the third minute of the second half, the visitors were in front.

Just before the break, their No 8 Jason Welburn scored from close range for Martin Nutt to convert and with the second half only three minutes old centre Xavier Andre ran in a spectacular try from 60 metres. Nutt converted again, then exchanged penalties with Mackay to leave the scoreline at 13-17.

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By the 74th minute, Weston had used all three replacements, the last of which was Stuart Board and it was Board’s skill at two line-outs which sent Weston on their way.

From the second, Weston drove to the visitors’ line and from the resultant scrum, Quins offended once too often and referee Doug Neagle had no option but to award a penalty try.

The Seasiders were now in the lead, and in control, and when they arrived at the Quins’ line for the second time in as many minutes, Simpson’s second pushover try followed.

But the visitors had offended after Simpson’s score and from the penalty awarded on the halfway line, Mackay kicked to the left corner, and from the inevitable drive it was winger Paul Sprague, playing in his 200th match, who settled the issue with his team’s third try in an incredible five minutes, and their bonus point.

Mackay converted all three to gather another 14 points.

Weston: J Waterman, S Thompson, J Gallagher, D Swaartbooi (S Board 74), P Sprague, J Mackay, J Conway (J Reid 60), D Swann (sinbin 43), C Withers, S Donegan (D Swann 66), A Glen, A Russell, G Sparks (capt), R Bignell, G Simpson (S Williams 43-53).

This column has often commented that this Weston team invariably keeps playing until the final whistle and Saturday was a prime example.

George Sparks and his pack pressurised their opposites from the start and it was hardly surprising that the visitors were penalised now fewer than 18 times during the match.

Andrew Glen’s penetrating carries made him Weston’s outstanding forward, closely followed by an excellent all-round performance by Simpson.

Props Simon Williams, David Swann and Steve Donegan also played a big part and this kind of display needs to be carried forward to Saturday when they travel to bottom club Cleve.

WESTON wing Paul Sprague made his 200th first team appearance in their match against Oxford Harlequins to qualify for his club cap.

Bristol born Sprague (35) was educated at Brislington School and joined the Seasiders from Old Redcliffians in 2003, making his debut at home against Haywards Heath.

He was elected the club’s player of the year at the end of 2003/4 and, so far, has scored 70 tries, most of which have been witnessed by his 11-year-old son Dominic who is one of the club’s water-boys.

Sprague, who is a fitness centre manager, was presented with his cap in the clubhouse after Saturday’s match.

He is the 48th recipient of the award since caps were re-introduced in 1963/64.

THE semi-final of the Somerset Cup between the holders, Weston, and Taunton will be played at Taunton’s Hyde Park ground on March 23. The venue was agreed by both clubs after a toss of a coin.

The other semi-final between Clevedon and the University of Bath will be played at Weston’s Recreation Ground on the same evening.

The kick-off time for both matches will be at 7.30pm.

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