UTTOXETER RFC director of rugby Donald Hayes says his side’s youthful enthusiasm allowed them to win their opening game in Midlands Three West (North).
Town beat the promotion hopefuls 25-23 away with a late try from Lewis Bain and conversion from Paul Milward.
It was the first time in three attempts they have won their opening game at Midlands Three level – and Hayes was delighted afterwards.
“We’re euphoric to sneak the win on the road against real contenders for promotion,” said the former Uttoxeter hooker. “There were a lot of nerves and for the first half both sides worked each other out.
“It was a big day for the club and this young side. The last two seasons we were in this league we suffered heavy defeats on the opening day, 39-15 in 2010 and 41-7 in 2011, so to start with a victory is invaluable.
“I think the difference between the two sides was our youthful exuberance and the desire, drive and energy came through when it mattered most.”
Despite the victory, Hayes knows Town need to improve after truncated pre-season preparations.
“Once we strip down the emotion of the day and analyse the performance, we have a lot to work on,” he said. “Our preparation for this season has been insufficient for the challenges that lie ahead.
“We have a lot of work to do – we made a lot of mistakes but were not punished for
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“We need to impose our patterns of play on the game more rather than defend, although our defence was very solid.”
Edwardians took a 6-0 lead on Saturday with two penalties when Uttoxeter infringed deep in their own half.
Milward pulled a penalty back to make the score 6-3.
Edwardians nearly extended the lead when their winger and full-back linked, enabling their other winger to sprint 60 metres upfield, only for Town’s Henry Knox to make a diving tap tackle.
Just before half-time, Edwardians broke through with a well-worked move from their backs.
A decoy run allowed their full-back to cut through in the midfield. He was tackled but offloaded to the supporting centre, who touched down for a converted try to extend the lead to 13-3 at the interval.
Milward added another penalty early in the second half to reduce the lead but, with Uttoxeter’s Andrew Pooley sin binned, Edwardians added a penalty of their own to regain their 10-point lead at 16-6.
Town scored the try of the match on the hour mark to halve the deficit.
After the pack had carried the ball on tight with men sucked in, Milward fired the ball out and Bain was able to weave his way through the defence and touch down for an unconverted try.
With 10 minutes to go, No8 Pete Allen gave Uttoxeter the lead for the first time.
From the back of the scrum he picked and ran open, handing off a defender before ploughing his way through another to touch down close to the posts. Milward converted to give Town an 18-16 advantage.
With six minutes left on the clock, Edwardians thought they had pinched victory with a well-worked team try.
Their forwards had three quick phases, with their pack sucking in defenders and repeatedly taking the ball over the gain line.
They then spun the ball out and their winger beat the cover for pace before touching down in the corner. The conversion, crucially, was missed.
Uttoxeter refused to give up after conceding so late and snatched victory with the final play of the game.
From the kick-off, Bain sliced the kick and this seemed to catch everyone by surprise.
Allen was able to steal possession, giving Town the ball deep in Edwardians’ half.
Uttoxeter were awarded a scrum and after a number of tight phases through the pack the ball was spun out to the overlap.
With Edwardians’ defence stretched, Bain cut through the midfield and touched down under the posts to level the scores at 23-23.
Milward held his nerve with the straightforward conversion to snatch the victory at 25-23.
TOWN: Armett, Cabrera, Meads, Carr, Paull, Davies (capt), Pooley, Allen, Milward, Bain, Gill, Knox, Sherrat, Gallimore, Williams. Subs: Woolley, Chell, Buchanan.