Rugby: Walden beat the rain, but not Rochford in top of the table clash

07:55 28 January 2014

Saffron Walden lost for the first time in 12 league matches as they succumbed at Rochford in a low scoring battle on a waterlogged pitch, on Saturday.

The game went ahead on a bog of a pitch following some heavy overnight rain. The wet conditions certainly helped Rochford as they had the advantage in the scrums virtually all game as Walden struggled to get much clean ball and with the soft ground blunted Walden’s quick backs.

Straight from the kick off Walden found themselves under pressure as they tried to clear the ball from just outside the 22-metres line and as the ball went loose Rochford kicked it forward forcing the Walden covering back to take the ball over his own try line to concede the five-metre scrum.

Rochford attacked and although initially Walden’s pack held firm it was off second phase possession that Rochford scored the early try.

Walden did enjoy some good counter attacks and might have scored when the backs created an overlap only for the final pass to go astray. On the 20 minute mark they could count themselves unlucky as this time they created space for left winger Ben Stapleton to receive the ball and go round his opposite number and with one man to beat he chipped the ball ahead and has he went past the defender he was tripped. It looked likely that he would have used his pace to get to the ball first but unfortunately the ref thought otherwise and only gave a penalty rather than the penalty try.

Full back Tom Price kicked the three points to narrow the gap to 5-3.

Walden tried to use the extra man to good advantage but despite a couple of long range penalty attempts no further points were added.

Just before half time Walden backs once again found a hole in the Rochford defensive line and with a two-on-one beckoning again a Walden player was tripped and held back and yet again Rochford player had to go off for 10 minutes.

But again Walden did not capitalise. Walden hoped that they could play in the right area of the field to pin Rochford back deep inside their half and for much of the second half they managed to do this but it was Rochford who scored the only other points when following a scrum in the centre of the park they got a nudge on and their No.8 picked up headed down the blind side and as he was tackled by the Walden flanker and winger the ball went loose. Rochford’s lively scrum-half scooped it up and found a free run to the line. Although he went close to the posts the conversion was missed leaving the score at 10-3.

With 10 minutes to go Walden camped inside the Rochford 22 and looked close to scoring on at least three occasions. They got the ball over the line twice the first it looked like they has scored but the referee adjudged the ball to be held up.

The second was when fly half Tom Hughes spun out of a couple of tackles and reached for the line he was just short by a matter of inches and again when Walden had go forward ball only for the maul to be stopped by yet another infringement by Rochford who with two minutes to go had their third sin bin of the game. The last two minutess came and went and with the final play Rochford gained a scrum and were elated to hear the final whistle.

Despite the low score it was a tense battle and would have kept even the neutral entertained as both sides gave their all.

As can be seen by the three sin bins Rochford played on the edge but generally it was played in the right spirit with both sets of players showing respect for each others efforts.

Walden need to regroup and put in the hard work to start gaining the bonus point wins to try and put pressure on Ipswich and stay ahead of Rochford who on this performance are well placed in the run in to the end of the season.

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