TRINITY 18-18 KINGSTONDecember 7, 2021
GEOFF WILSHER 1941 – 2022January 20, 2022
Old Whitgiftians 17-25 Trinity
The game was only two minutes old when Trinity fly half Dan Crouch put the visitors ahead with a penalty. Then some untidy play by Whits gave Trinity the opportunity to build on this but they were equally sloppy.
Whits then produced some fine running rugby to move the ball and drive into the Mids 22. Centre Temi Okenla was outstanding in defence with two huge tackles. A powerful Trinity scrum saw them attack with a weaving run from full back Ben Telfer but continuity was lost when a Mids player was pinged for handling the ball from the floor. Whits attacked again and Okenla tackled them back once more and added a mighty turnover to his laurels. From this possession Crouch put in a searching kick which bounced favourably for second row Dave Spedding, up quickly to take it on and unload to winger Ed Fyffe who sped to the line. Crouch had been injured in the move and Jack Greenwood took over the place kicking. He was lucky with a flat, ugly conversion which just cleared the crossbar to put Trinity 10 points clear after 13 minutes.
Whitgift replied immediately when they ran the ball. Trinity scrum half Matt Hoyles stemmed the flow temporarily with a fine tackle, but the hosts spread the ball right and sent over winger Nick Byrne for a classic try which was converted with an impressive strike by fly half Matt Binks.
Trinity certainly had a game on their hands now and had to defend well to repel the huge Whits forwards who were punching holes in their defence. They raised the siege through Grenwood who kicked ahead and followed up his kick with a good tackle to put Whits in trouble. Telfer found the corner with a penalty and Trinity had a good platform. Prop Nathan Bacon made two good surges but lost control of the ball and was then unlucky to be penalised when he was as tackled and his knee momentarily touched the ground.
More patience would have yielded something but eventually the pressure told. When Whits had tied up a Trinity maul on their own line and came away with the ball Hoyles was seen to drive back their huge No.8 over his own line and this won a 5-metre scrum. The powerful visitors’ eight drove over for a pushover try with No.8 George Daniels getting the touchdown. Greenwood converted with a beautiful strike this time and Trinity were 17-7 to the good . Trinity had several chances to put the game to bed, but they took wrong options, knocked on too often and failed to win their own ball in too many line outs. Credit must be given to Whitgift got some dour and uncompromising defence.
Trinity continued to dominate the exchahges in the second half and Fyffe and Telfer made good runs with McEvilly’s crunching tackles stemming Whitgiftians attempts to rally. Several times Telfer found good touches with penalties, but the visitors failed to capitalise. They did rather better when they opted for scrums and on 57 minutes Daniels picked up from the base and coolly delayed his pass to allow Hoyles to flash through the gap and score a picture try.
Whitgift rallied and their forwards had a good spell from which hooker Chris Hall scored. Binks converted and a few minutes later kicked a penalty to narrow the gap to 22-17 with 15 minutes remaining. The grandstand finish did not materialise, however, as Trinity got down to work and played tight with Bacon showing the way with his drives and flanker Olly Hubbard covering acres of space in a display of industry, judgement and skill which made him man of the match. Trinity dominated a long period of attrition in the mud as they sought their try bonus point. Whits conceded innumerable penalties and Trinity sensibly prioritised a win over a bonus point by opting to kick one with 7 minutes left. This Greenwood did in an accomplished manner to put his side a more comfortable two scores ahead and the attrition continued to the final whistle.
REPORT: Gerry Murphy
PHOTOS: Neil Pepper