Unbeaten and league winners
Match reports by Bath & Wiltshire Romans RFC
Photos by Daniel George Barber
The Romans have shown how to play rugby league on and off this pitch in their first season. They held a strong Bristol Sonics to a well earned 30-30 draw on Wednesday 29th July and then edged out the Somerset Vikings, 30-26, to clinch the league on Saturday 1st August.
Off the field the Romans have built up some strong media contacts, pitch/training facilities, sponsors and decent kit. Some of their players have also earned themselves international caps throughout the summer season. Training has remained well attended and there is a healthy competition for places in the match day squad.
The Romans still have one league game left to play against their local rivals Bristol Sonics at home. “We are keen to see a big crowd at leafy lane, Corsham for our last league fixture in the return local derby encounter with Bristol Sonics on Saturday 8th August 2015, 2.30pm kick off” says first team manager Chris Chatten.
There will then be a free week for the Romans as they await the result of 2nd vs 3rd to see who they have to play in the Grand Final. The winner of that game then go into the Harry Jepson Trophy to play against other regional league winners this culminates in a final on 19th September 2015.
Here are the two match reports from the last two games:
Bristol Sonics 30-30 Bath & Wiltshire Romans
Romans draw level at Bristol in a cracking game for the neutral!
If you were not at Dings Crusaders RFC (home of Bristol Sonics) on Wednesday evening you missed a cracking game of Rugby League. Some spectators commented it was Conference League South standard (the next tier up from West of England Premier League) whilst other said it was a better spectacle than semi-professional games which they had witnessed recently.
The good thing is the Romans remained unbeaten in a 30-30 draw. It is fair to say the Bath & Wiltshire Romans RLFC were not on top form but rescued a draw from the jaws of defeat.
The Roman had a slender 18-10 lead at half time after tries from prop Clayton Haigh who made a break from 35 metres out then sidestepped the full back like a centre to go in under the sticks. The other two Romans tries in the first half came off moves that have been worked on in training over recent weeks. Full back Jimmy Godfrey claimed the second try with forward Russ Preston going in from short range for the other; all three first half Romans tries were converted by loose forward Joe Knight. The Sonics responded with touchdowns from Tony Harvey and Johan Schoemann plus a Dom Swann conversion.
The visitors extended their lead with a second try from Jimmy Godfrey (10-24) before the Sonics lost skipper Alex Potts to injury, but despite the absence the home side took the lead for the first time in the game.
Touchdowns from Dan Brooker, Sam Hodge, Dam Stuart-Cummins and a lucky length of the field try from Jack Farler plus two Swann goals gave the Sonics a 30-24 advantage before Brooker was sent to the sin-bin.
The final whistle nearing, the Romans scored a try through player-coach Tom Howley. This was converted by Huw Parks to level the scores, this try showed pure determination and shear will to win. There was an unsavoury end to the game when there was a bit of a ‘melee’, after which the referee decided to red card one player from each side for punching. The referee blew the final whistle soon after the altercation when the Romans were looking to get in a position to pop over a drop goal.
The Romans remain unbeaten at the top of the West of England League. Romans spokesperson Chris Chatten commented “it is fair to say a number of players were off their game today, but it is a good team that can go to Bristol maybe not on top form and come away with a draw. Tom Howley led the team magnificently to ensure the match did not end in defeat for the Romans.”
Somerset Vikings 26-30 Bath & Wiltshire Romans
Romans just edge out the Vikings in a scrappy affair!
After some of the Bath & Wiltshire Romans RLFC team and the referee were held up in holiday traffic delays on the M5 the Romans found it hard to get into the Rugby League fixture on Saturday backing up after their mid-week draw at Bristol Sonics. The game kicked off at the slightly later than advertised time of 2.45pm.
The Romans allowed home team Somerset Vikings to get over the line first to go 6-0 ahead. The Vikings play their home fixtures at Morgonians RFC in Bridgwater and was the Romans longest away trip this season. The Roman finally got off the bus so to speak with a try by Mike Harrison in his first game for the club since returning from the Armed Forces Rugby League’s tour of Australia. Harrison playing at full back rounded the Vikings defence on the edges before scooting nearer to the posts to make for an easier conversion attempt, but Joe Knight pushed it wide. Prop Steve Flintoft then scored the second Romans try after a barnstorming run, Knight was able to covert on this occasion.
Romans hooker Tom Plance (University of Bath Student) showed quality with some excellent footwork to confuse the Vikings to go over for the try (14-6). The Vikings worked the ball to the edge for their winger to go over for a try to get them back into the contest (14-10). Impressive prop Olly Spence then piled over from close range, with rugby union convert Huw Parks converting. Half time 20-10 to the Romans.
In the second half of the game the Vikings scored three second half tries to the Romans two to give them a fighting chance of victory. Romans try scorers were from Leigh Wheatley and a second for Plance. Harrison was captain for the day and Wheatley did a good job of marshalling the team around the pitch from half back. The final score finished Romans 30, Vikings 26.
Chris Chatten Romans spokesperson commented “it was a frustrating game to watch for Romans officials and fans. However, the win sees the Romans confirmed as league winners but it is still important that the club remain focused on staying unbeaten in the league and take good form into the grand final.”