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Old Elthamians 45 - 22 Wigan

Old Elthamians 45 - 22 Wigan

Daniel Morris14 May - 09:08
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Wigan make historic trip to 'HQ'

Wigan made the trip to the home of rugby union, Twickenham, in an historic first for a club that has been in existence for 111 years.

The Papa John’s community cup was a competition that saw level 3 counties sides play against similar pitched sides from other areas and afforded Wigan with trips to Bakewell, Leamington Spa and after dispatching all before them, Twickenham for the final.

The opposition for the final were Kent based side, Old Ethamians. A side with a history of professional rugby which had seen them, until recently, playing in the upper reaches of the rugby pyramid. An unbeaten season and talks of being ‘repositioned’ to a more competitive league showed what the Douglas Valley men were up against.

The first 20 minutes of the game were an uphill battle for Wigan. A chip over the top wasn’t fielded by the Wigan backline and in the scramble to bring the OE attacker down, a high tackle penalty was conceded. A kick to the corner gave the OE’s an attacking lineout which they won comfortably and set about the heave to drive the ball over the line for the opening score.

Wigan continued to suffer from their own discipline as a penalty at the scrum was also kicked into the corner for what looked like a repeat of the first score. This time the pack held firm but with bodies committed to the maul, Elthamians took advantage of the gaps for their second score.

It was another attacking lineout and rolling maul that led to the third score. This time the ball was played off the back and an intricate move in the backs seemed to go awry as the OE fullback careened into the defensive line without the ball. Despite this, play went on and the OE’s took full advantage of the space to go over.

With the score at 19-0 after 20 minutes it looked like it was going to be a long day in the Twickenham sunshine for the Wigan side. Undaunted the Northerners fought back through Olly Morgan who finished in the corner after some classy hands from second row, Adam Pierce. Zack Barker added the conversion and Wigan felt they were back in the game.

Wigan were on top now and with just 7 minutes to go until halftime they added another score. This time a break by Kilian Wallace made the headway that took Wigan into opposition territory. The ball was recycled and Same Gee took the ball into the 22. Great hands saw the ball into the grasp of Jack Proffitt who went over for the score. Zack Barker added the conversion to take the score to 19-14.

Wigan continued to apply the pressure and Elthamians were desperate for the half time break. With Wigan in good position and time ticking away, they were awarded a penalty. Zack Barker stepped up and cooly slotted it home for a half time score of 19-17.

The game restarted with both sides unable to take control. Defence was ruling the day until the 69th minute when Elthamians had scrum after scrum on the Wigan line. The scrum half broke the deadlock as he skipped inside his man and went over under the sticks. The conversion took the score to 26-17.

Wigan were out on their feet now and it was the pacy Old Elthamians fullback who looked to press home their advantage. A break down the right wing saw him fix the fullback before passing inside for a score under the sticks. The conversion took it to 33-17 with just 7 minutes remaining.

With Wigan desperate to claw their way back into the game Sam Gee tried to chip the defensive line. The kick was charged down and OE’s recovered the ball. The ball was quickly moved across their backline for another score.

With the clock ticking down and Wigan well and truly beaten, a break from the OE’s stand off took him under the sticks for a 45-17 lead.

But Wigan showed some heart and finished the game with a classy try of their own. Working their way up field they eventually threw the ball out into the centres, where Jacob Dugdale was able to finish.

Wigan were beaten by the better side on the day but will reflect on a historic trip to Twickenham and a season which also included a promotion and a league cup win.

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