14 Man Wheatley do the Double over All Blacks
By Simon Chadbone
In the BBO 4 Norths only successful fixture Wheatley took the win over table toppers Gosford
An under strength Wheatley side managed to produce a fine display of rugby to take victory at league leaders Gosford All Blacks in challenging conditions.
With the KO moved forwards by 15 minutes, Wheatley completed their team run through 3 men down, with Phil Glenn and David Thomas arriving a bit after the main bulk of the team. Wheatley chose to receive the kick with the strong wind behind them, attacking the 'wetter' end of the pitch. Despite the warnings, Wheatley did not react to the ball hanging in the air, letting the lengthy GAB lock get under it first and luckily knocking on and thus setting the tone for the majority of the game.
Scrum followed Scrum which suited the understaffed Wheatley team well, especially with their pack (a few 'illegal' strikes from Jake Durbin aside...) asserting their dominance at the set piece, winning several against the head.
With the forwards utilising the driving maul and Russ Neal and Phil Glenn exploiting the wind advantage with the boot, Wheatley found themselves with another scrum in good field position. The Purple pack did their job and after some good phase play, The deft hands of Durbin, Mitchell and Chadbone fed Jordan Hook who crossed the line in the corner and Russ Neal adding the extras.
The challenging conditions didn't allow for the expansive game that the Gosford backs would have wanted and the good Drift defence from Wheatley cut down the available space further. Still, some good attacking play from the back line gained some rare territory for GAB resulting in a score following some good hands and a strong line. Conversion successful.
Half time came and went with the teams level and all 14 purple men fully aware that the next 40 minutes was going to be a long hard graft into the wind.
The second half followed in much the same way as the first, with set pieces occurring more often than not. One period of play stood out amongst the rest as Wheatley opened up the champagne and, with a series of offloads you'd expect to see in the pacific, made 50m, unfortunately there was one offload too many and a potential try of the season ended with a knock on.
From the resulting field position, Wheatley were able to apply pressure and gain a scrummage 5m from the Gosford line. With the scrum moving forward and try line beckoning, Number 8 Simon Chadbone forgot the 'pick' part of a 'pick and go' and the ball was handed back to GAB in form of a scrum. Perhaps fuelled by the disappointment of the previous scrum, a ferocious effort from the purple pack pushed the Gosford pack off the ball and over the try line, allowing Chadbone to dive onto the loose ball and get the 5 points. A tough kick into the wind was just missed by Neal.
With conditions and numbers against them, the Wheatley boys were starting to tire and with some quick counter attacking and strong runners, GAB were starting to gain a foothold and so when the chance for a penalty in front of the posts presented itself, Russ Neal made no mistake in slotting the 3 points and taking Wheatley outside of a converted score.
Wheatley held out to claim a hard fought victory with Micheal Ridge, Phil Glen and Pete Mitchell all prominent in the loose.
Special mention to the crazy Scots man who added his special blend of intimidation.