Uttoxeter RFC 23 v 8 Clee Hill
UTTOXETER RFC took the battle to Clee Hill and gained an important victory as they chase promotion from Midlands Four West (North).
The Town beat the Shropshire outfit at their own game by taking their big, rural visitors on up front.
And it paid dividends with a 23-0 win avenging a 3-0 defeat they suffered to Clee Hill in October.
Uttoxeter director of rugby Don Hayes was proud of his side’s efforts as they matched up to the big Salopians.
“Following the defeat at Clee Hill we decided to take it to them up front where they were strongest,” said former hooker Hayes.
“It was a fight for the pack as the set pieces were an uncompromising battle.
“It became war of attrition — ‘a nothing asked, nothing given battle’.
“We’ve paid the price as there are a number of walking wounded, but I take a bow to the squad.
“The boys manned up and grew an extra inch, helping to further their development as players and men.
“Thankfully we have a week off to recover.” The Town are back in action a week on Saturday when they visit Birmingham outfit Harborne — and will take some rest before then to ensure they are fresh and can get the win needed to keep pace with league leaders Market Drayton.
Uttoxeter fielded a strong team, welcoming back Tim Carr to the bench, with Lawrence Paull retaining his position at second row.
Aaron Lakin came back into the starting line-up and Tom Gallimore made the bench with James Gill absent.
The hosts started in a buoyant mood after the convincing win over Telford but early handling errors allowed Clee Hill to build pressure and push Uttoxeter back into their 22.
Strong defending from Pete Allen and Matt Nance kept the opposition at bay and quick handling by the backs allowed man-of-the-match Paul Milward to clear up field.
However, the first opportunity of the match fell to Clee Hill, who opted for the posts when Joe Lewis strayed offside. Uttoxeter were let off as the attempt sailed wide and Lewis Bain cleared long for Town.
As Uttoxeter looked to gain momentum, it was again a mistake by the home side with Andy Todd handling in the ruck that presented Clee Hill with a penalty. This time they made no mistake to lead 3-0.
This shocked Uttoxeter into life and the response was almost immediate, with Bruce Mustard and Chris Bassett both making line breaks to gain territory.
From a scrum, Rob Armett and Jake Cabrera both made valuable yards before Milward chipped through for Lakin to touch down for what looked a nailed on try.
However, the referee deemed the ball had gone dead and brought play back for an earlier offside.
Uttoxeter opted for the posts and Milward converted for 3- 3.
The Oldfields outfit were becoming dominant but suffered a blow when bighitting Allen had to be replaced, but the strength on the bench was evident with Mike Davies coming on.
This also prompted a change, with Paull withdrawn and Carr sent into battle. It did not take Carr long to have an impact.
The impressive Steve Woolley set up the line-out on the 22, and the catch and drive from Carr resulted in a walkover try. Milward kicked the difficult conversion to extend the lead to 10-3.
As the half drew to an end, there was still time for Clee Hill to mount one last attack, and one that they made count.
A solid line-out resulted in a set piece move off the top and the hooker peeling off to score in the corner. This try was unconverted and left the scores at 10-8 at half-time.
Some strong words from the coaches and captain Nance at half-time sent Uttoxeter out with new purpose and it soon told. Breaks from the inform Ben Gallimore and Lewis resulted in Woolley tiptoeing down the touchline and scoring in the corner. Milward converted.
As the game re-started, Todd and Bain started to control the game, with the forwards making hard yards and the backs playing structured yet exciting rugby.
Milward’s fast feet proved too hot to handle on several occasions as open play kicks were ran back with interest.
As Clee Hill began to tire, Lakin was quickest to the breakdown and the opposition were penalised for holding on. Milward kick the tough penalty for 18-8.
Uttoxeter were now dominant, with the majority of possession and play in the Clee Hill half.
Another loose kick by the Clee Hill 10 landed with Milward, who ran open before chipping into the corner.
Again Lakin was on hand to touch down, but lightning does strike twice as it was ruled out for running dead.
It only took Town minutes to get the next try though.
The reliable line-out was again won and the ball spun into the centres by Todd, with Bassett hitting hard lines.
The ball was quickly recycled and through fast rucking by the forwards, Bain was able to pick and score in the bottom corner.
The conversion was missed and the score moved to 23-8.