Once again the Bucks fielded a team much changed from last week. In fact the 45th player to play for them so far this season took the field today as Tom Shaw, Andy Menzies & Craig Hadwen made their Bucks debuts. The newcomers all played their part, a tribute to the 4th Team which although struggling ensures there are willing and able players to come into, and not look out of place in, the successful Bucks setup.
The visitors were quickly into their stride and after good work by the forwards a penalty was awarded which Full Back Jonny Cole converted.(0-3).
A few minutes later 2nd Row Micky Robson stole a Darlo ball and West counterattacked. From the next breakdown prop Mark Cholmondeley received the ball in the 10 spot and sold an outrageous dummy to power through a gap (it was a big gap!). He then linked with Fly Half Phil Wallis who set his backs away. No 13 Marty Todd drew the defence across before putting his centre partner Paul Boyd in for a try with an inside pass.(0-8).
Darlington could count themselves a little unlucky as their big pack had been causing problems for the Bucks and had been taking the game to them. This showed when they stole a Bucks throw on the 5m line and drove the ensuing maul over the line for a try.(5-8).
On 18mins from a scrum on halfway skipper Paul Williamson broke blind, the scrum half fed Cole. The Full Back put on the afterburners to breach Darlos defensive line he then fed Winger Matty Tyers who finished off at pace. (5-13).
The game continued to be a to and fro affair but when West got hold of good ball their superior ball handling skills meant that they were often able to convert their chances.
This was the case on 30mins when they put together a couple of minutes of tremendous rugby. Darlo did not lie down and made the Bucks work hard but 2 minutes of continuous rugby at this level is not only rare but also impossible to defend against and eventually Williamson broke from a ruck and drew the last defender before putting Wallis in. Cole converted.(5-20).
Darlo came back but once again Robson stole the ball and immediately fed his backline. Boyd made a break and set Tyers free. The young winger still had a man to beat, but did this with aplomb to go over wide out. (5-25).
The home team finished the half very strongly and laid siege to the Bucks line. However, a feature of the game so far had been the visitors disciplined defence and this held sway despite desperate home efforts to cross the whitewash.
HT Darlo 5 – 25 Bucks.
5 minutes into the 2nd half Wallis took over the kicking duties and converted a penalty. (5-28).
The scrums went uncontested at this point as Darlo lost a prop. This was probably to the detriment to the home team who had been applying plenty of pressure at scrum time although No8 Sam Powell had dealt excellently with the ball when the scrums had at times been going backwards.
On 23mins Williamson scored his 2nd try when he took a quick tap from a penalty and fed big winger Michael Foster who, although tackled, stayed on his feet and, as several defenders tried to get him down, fed the looping scrum half who ran round under the posts. Wallis converted(5-35).
Darlo were now to have their best period of the match and scored 2 unconverted tries, one of them by one of their lively Fijians, and started to really get their heads up. It could have been more but for the excellent defence the visitors continued to display particularly from the back row of Jonny Wray, Nige Bulmer and a particularly brilliant steal just a metre from our own line by No8 Powell.
Oddly enough the scrums went back to contested during this period but West were much more organised now and at one point, led ably by hooker Morgan Hamilton, drove Darlo off their ball.
Right on full time Wallis converted a penalty to take the final score to 15-38.
West played some very good rugby at times during this game against worthy opponents but the talk of discipline during defence was certainly taken on board and was the feature of the Bucks game.
Sorry – no photos this week – I forgot my camera!
Next week the Bucks travel to Stockton for another Tees Valley Merit League game.
West Bucks are sponsored by the O’Brien Group. Specialists in Waste Management, Asbestos Removal, Demolition & Dismantling, Land Remediation and Architectural Salvage.