Rugby: Wisbech beat Beccles in memorable display
PUBLISHED: 09:50 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:50 30 January 2020
Wisbech put in a performance to remember on Saturday to beat Beccles 10-8 in London Three Eastern Counties at Beef Meadow in a game that looked out of sight for Leonard Veenendaal's men earlier in the week.
Preparations for the difficult trip to Beccles for a must-win match were severally hampered when Nathaniel Humphreys and Dan Di Meo where ruled out midweek due to injuries and with several players unavailable for selection the Men in Red where facing an uphill battle.
Wisbech managed to field a side, albeit a very unfamiliar looking first XV which included five Wildcats, eight under-18 Colts and three players playing out of position.
And they worked their way into the home half before a loose pass saw the hosts turn over possession and return it with interest to camp in the Wisbech half.
Wisbech worked their way out of their half finding themselves just outside the home 22 and after a number of phases Beccles infringed at a breakdown and the ensuing penalty was well struck by returning fly-half Jack Malkin on 12 minutes for a 3-0 lead.
An intense period followed, with both sides battling tirelessly to make ground, and five minutes before half time, the hosts managed to string some phases of their own together forcing Wisbech onto the back foot.
In spite of some good defence from Wisbech, they unnecessarily infringed at the breakdown and the Beccles fly-half converted to level the scores at 3-3.
Beccles started the second half hungry for victory and their intensity tested the Men in Reds' defence.
After 20 minutes they scored a try, following a sustained piece of attacking play, but the conversion was missed, giving Beccles a 8-3 lead.
However, in the 72nd minute Wisbech made their pressure count when in-form Henry Lankfer took a well-timed pass to break through the home defence, handing off the last defender before the big second row sprinted 30 meters to score under the posts.
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Malkin made no mistake with the conversion to give Wisbech a two-point lead and a tense final eight minutes saw them go close to killing the game with several fumbles letting them down.
Beccles were equally unfortunate not to convert chances of their own, as Wisbech held on to their lead for a much needed 10-8 win.
Director of Rugby Leonard Veenendaal said: "This was truly a team effort like I've not seen for some time.
"Credit to those players called up and in particular the young players, everyone stepped up to the plate, put their bodies on the line, played for the shirt and for each other.
"The senior players led by example and it was a welcome boost to have Jack Malkin back but a lot of credit has to go to skipper David Wadsley who worked his socks of all week to ensure we are able to field a competitive motivated side and he led with distinction on the pitch."
Lankfer, Solomon Prestige and Shane Vickers turned in excellent performances but Jack Malkin, returning for his first 1st XV match since September 2019, was outstanding at fly-half and his calm control of the game was the difference in earning him the Wisbech Round Table man of the match award.
Wisbech welcome Thurston to Harecroft Road at Saturday (2pm)
*Wisbech under-18s were short on numbers but, boosted by the welcome return of Luke Hare, travelled to Wymondham and showed true commitment by honouring the fixture and club.
With a couple of Wymondham under-16s guesting to help Wisbech make up the numbers, the spectators were treated to a competitive match.
Ben Goude and Jack Obey touched down for Wisbech, with Daniel Evans adding both conversions, in a 24-14 defeat and the try scorers shared the Wisbech Round Table man of the match award.
Wisbech host West Norfolk on February 9 in what is always a hard-fought local derby.