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Clacton 2 v Aldeburgh

24th February – Clacton

Result: Clacton 38 Aldeburgh 21

A frustrating experience

A small band of Aldeburgh players made the journey to Clacton to ensure that the match was played so that we avoided losing five points by cancelling. We had been informed in advance by Clacton that they had a large squad because they wanted to give people a game. They sportingly provided loan players in accordance with the Game On principles to ensure an even encounter. However, we were also told that their First XV had completed its league fixtures for the season. Many of them were to play against us.

Despite the size of the Clacton pack, Aldeburgh pressed them back to start with. Ed Robson, fly half, kicked for position and then found a good touch from a penalty. His tactical kicking made an impact throughout the match. Less good was that hooker, Elliott Clarke-Gifford, pulled up with a hamstring strain from the kick off and five minutes later Dean Wilkins, in the back row this week, had to leave the field with a bad knee injury. To lose two strong players from a depleted starting XV was a blow.

Clacton soon built pressure with the breakthrough for a try coming after 7 minutes. Aldeburgh did respond with a loan player making a strong run, Ed chipping over the top and holding Clacton back on their line. It couldn’t last. The weight of Clacton’s scrum enabled them to push a set scrum over the line for the second try. 14-0 after a quarter of an hour with a mismatch in pack sizes looked ominous.

Apart from Aldeburgh’s brave tackling, what held Clacton back was the quality of their passing. Time and again they moved the ball slickly only to drop it at the crucial moment. As a result, there was stalemate right up to half time. Just before the break, the luck went with Clacton. From a line out, they moved the ball along the backs until Ben Watts, centre and skipper, so nearly made an interception. Instead, the Clacton fly half hacked on, picked up and scored. Nevertheless, 19-0 at half time was respectable.

Within a minute of the restart, Clacton had crossed again. Simple, direct rugby enabled them to keep going until Aldeburgh ran out of tacklers. The floodgates remained shut tight. There were no more scores for 20 minutes but injuries had by then left Aldeburgh a man short. Numbers were soon evened up when, for reasons which were not obvious from the touch line, a Clacton player was sent off. All we saw was a player tearing off his shirt, swearing loudly as he left the pitch with the referee brandishing a red card at his retreating back.

Most of the game was played in a good spirit with the only altercation being between Clacton players on opposing sides. ‘See you next Tuesday’ was clearly heard from the touchline. Training could be combative next week. Despite the red card, Clacton broke through almost immediately to score another try. 31-0 with twenty minutes left.

Surprisingly the next score went to Aldeburgh. The guys kept plugging at it. Sustained pressure led to a scrum in the Clacton 22. Scrum half, Fred Precious, was quickly round the blind side to charge down the clearing kick, following up to pick up and score. A couple of minutes later, he did it again when he took a quick penalty, outpaced the defence on the outside and scored in the corner. Ed Robson converted from the touchline to add to his previous conversion.

Clacton managed one more try before Aldeburgh finished the scoring. David Rix, having another excellent game as flanker, picked up from a ruck in his own half, broke free and ran deep into the opposition half. He linked with Fred Precious who looked for a moment as if he was going to get a hat trick but he fired the ball to Ben Watts whom it hit and bounced up but somehow he was able to grab it and touch down. Ed again converted.

What looked at one point like being a cricket score against us, turned into quite a tight game. All the players worked tremendously hard and were a credit to the club. We were left with the frustration of knowing that if we had played against Clacton’s regular second team we would have seen a different outcome.


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