Late ill-discipline costs Wisbech Rugby Club dearly as defeat dents survival hopes
London North-East Division Three: Wisbech 7 Wymondham 13
WISBECH Rugby Club’s brave fight against relegation suffered a major blow as they conceded a converted try in the final 10 minutes to slip to a narrow defeat.
In a game littered with missed penalties it seemed the Harecroft Road outfit were going to pick up four valuable points in their fight to beat the drop. But, with just five minutes left Lee Summers powered over to break Wisbech hearts.
The home side were leading 7-6 at the time but James Wyatt’s conversion gave the visitors a near impossible to reach lead of six points with a matter of minutes left on the clock.
And to be fair Wisbech had been asking for trouble as Wyatt had missed two penalties to give his side the lead before Summers’ try. But it was third time lucky for Wymondham who opted to go for the line rather than allow Wyatt to kick for the posts as Wisbech conceded their third penalty in the space of five minutes.
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With just four games left the club’s epic effort to haul back their 13-point deduction could go down to the final game of the season.
Dejected skipper Tom Long said: “We have made life very difficult for ourselves now.
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“We’re very disappointed because it was a lacklustre performance. I think we were probably a little over-confident going into the game after beating Mersea Island last weekend.
“It was as if we’d taken a little too much confidence out of that victory and I think too many of us expected to just turn up and win today. We were a bit complacent.
“We had chances to take the points, especially when they had a man sent off and were down to 14 players - and especially because we were camped in their half during the second period. It’s just a very, very, very disappointing result.”
Wisbech grew in stature as the match went on after a dour first half that saw both teams struggle to retain possession. Both sets of forwards continued to turn over opposing scrums and mistakes were being made by both teams.
Mark Laws - who left his shooting boots at home - missed a penalty inside the first two minutes but it was the closest Wisbech came to scoring for most of the half.
Tom Wilson missed his first penalty of the afternoon but slotted his second between the posts to make it 3-0 to Wymondham. He made it 6-0 after good work in the scrum from the visitors had earned another penalty.
Yet, with seconds left before half time Tom Long surged through the visitors’ defence to touch down. It was Wisbech’s first spell of pressure and it was rewarded even further when Laws converted to give the home side a 7-6 half-time lead.
Wilson missed an early second-half penalty before the usually reliable Laws missed two attempts of his own - one an absolute sitter. It seemed harder to miss than score but Laws struck the upright as Wisbech’s domination failed to register on the scoreboard.
At that point there only seemed to be one winner - but the home side continued to give away needless fouls. Luckily for them Wyatt was also having one of those days - that Laws was also experiencing - when it seemed everything he kicked didn’t end up where he wanted it too.
However, Wisbech’s luck finally run out in the dying moments and they now face an even bigger fight to retain their London North-East Division Three status.
Long said: “Our ill-discipline was silly at the end and it’s cost us. I can scream and shout as much as I want during the game but at the end of the day there’s 15 boys who are responsible for making their own decisions during the match.
“I can’t nanny them and make all of their decisions for them because they know when they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
“Unfortunately we had a period of five or 10 minutes where we just gave away penalty after penalty after penalty. We were lucky in a sense not to lose by more in the end because they had three shots at the posts and luckily for us they didn’t have a kicker with them.”
Wisbech travel to Newmarket next Saturday - the team where their fielding of an ineligible player cost them so dearly. A 20-8 victory that day should give them some hope - as should the remarkable return of Luke Feaviour who made his first appearance for more than three years for the first team today.
Long said: “Hopefully today is a wake-up call. Newmarket away is going to be a big match. Last season we had one terrible match at Wanstead and hopefully today was our terrible match this year and this defeat will now spur everyone on for the remaining games.
“Looking at the positives I suppose we’ve gained a losing bonus point (collected if a team loses by less than seven points) which means they’ve only gained an extra three points on us which might help massively.
“It’s crunch time now. I said to everybody after the game - it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. It’s down to us now.
“If we win the games and pick up the bonus points then it’s in our hands. If we worry about what everyone else is doing we’ll take our eye of the ball and we can’t afford to do that anymore.”
Wisbech: Heighton, Humphreys, Griffen, Chapman, Desborough, Brownlow, T. Martell, Feaviour, Malkin, Petitt, Napier, Newns, Long, P.Martell, Laws Subs: Woolard, Seare, Anderson