Five Ways Old Edwardians 17 v 22 Uttoxeter
UTTOXETER ground all five points out from their first away fixture of the campaign as they misfired at Five Ways Old Edwardians in Midlands Four West (North).
Uttoxeter started brightly, although perhaps somewhat over-eager to get on the scoresheet, and this showed in early decision making.
Their first opportunity came when the hosts were penalised for killing the ball at the breakdown.
From a line-out, Alex Crisp drew his man and found winger James Gill, who sped over for an unconverted try.
This appeared to lull Uttoxeter into a false sense of security, thinking they could use their pace to run Five Ways out of the game, but the hosts began to settle.
Paul Milward went close to scoring with an individual effort, sending the ball upfield through a series of hacks, but the final grubber kick escaped his grasp.
A further opportunity for points was missed by Uttoxeter 10 minutes later as young flanker Jake Cabrera broke through two tackles.
He had one man to beat and had Tom Sherrat in support, but he went for the line and was tackled five metres short.
The visitors did go in at half-time with a 10-0 advantage when the Five Ways fullback fumbled a Milward kick.
Cabrera showed excellent persistency and awareness as he hacked the loose ball on and dived over the line.
Uttoxeter continued to make the same mistakes in the second half, shipping bad ball wide.
They did put some phases together, but inconsistency at the ruck prevented the visitors from building anything substantial.
It was Five Ways who scored next, breaking through the midfield, using their openside and overloading the channel.
With Uttoxeter’s backs sucked in, the ball was spun out wide and Five Ways made the most of an overlap to go over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Uttoxeter then suffered a double blow as they lost captain Mat Nance to injury, while centre Crisp was sin-binned for repeatedly arguing with the referee.
Nance was replaced by debutant Bruce Mustard, signed from Edinburgh outfit Watsonians.
Five Ways looked to make the most of the numerical advantage, but Uttoxeter began to put together a series of phases, with Mustard and Shaun Gorman rucking well and creating some quick ball.
From one such ruck, the ball was sent wide to Williams, who cut through the defence and found winger Ant Wild, who touched down in the corner before being bundled into touch.
Uttoxeter scored again soon after as they followed the pattern of play that had set up the previous try.
Fullback Tom Sherrat raced up the outside and when he was held up, Gorman was again on hand to ruck out.
Milward moved the ball around the pitch and big lock Steve Edwards broke through, shrugging off one tackle and handing off the final man to run under the posts.
Crisp converted to make the score 22-5 and guarantee Uttoxeter the bonus point.
The visitors believed they had the game in the bag and took their foot off the gas.
Five Ways took advantage to go over for two soft tries in quick succession.
The hosts converted one of them to reduce the deficit to 22-17.
Five Ways sensed the opportunity for a victory and, with their tails up, raised their intensity, but Uttoxeter responded and began to play with a bit more desire and kept the hosts at bay.
Uttoxeter were extremely disappointed with the performance and will look to put it behind them, but they will take heart from the fact they played poorly and still came away with all five points.
Director of rugby Donald Hayes said: “We are over the moon to have taken all five points from our away fixture and gone exactly where we wanted to be — top of the league.
“We were taken by surprise by Five Ways, who fielded 13 different players from their 70-3 drubbing at Harborne.
“We are all too aware that teams must not be underestimated and we will learn from this.
“We have lost both inspirational captain Mat Nance and centre Alex Crisp for roughly four weeks due to injury, but it was good to see some of the new phases pushing through.
“Jake Cabrera, who came up through Uttoxeter’s youth system, has had a season away with Stoke and looks an exciting prospect.
“Also, new signing, Scottish forward Bruce Mustard, looked very sharp and looks as if he’s going to be a very useful addition to the squad.
“The two injuries have thrown up a selection issue as both have started for Uttoxeter all season and I’m sure training will be competitive as the players in the squad will be looking to make those two positions their own.”