Wildboys on the 'Money(ball)'
By Gossip Girl
Wet and windy win with Witney
Saturday 28th October 2018 saw the Wildboys embark on their second away game of the season at Witney RFC.
On this day 14 years previous and across the pond in the USA, The Boston Redsox won their first World Series for 86 years. Their victory was made even more famous after implicating the strategies of mastermind tactician Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics. For all the baseball fans who want to know more this true story is available via a film called ‘Moneyball’ - a favourite of Gossip Girls and well worth a watch.
Fast forward back to 2018 and the Wildboys were without their mastermind tactician and captain George White who was donning his finest tweed at a wedding - with brother Tom White stepping in as Commander in Chief for this occasion. A warm welcome was also bestowed to Maxi Williams making his first appearance for the season. With Rob Nichols unavailable, Dan ‘DC’ Coulon and Harry ‘Bomber’ Hillier formed the starting 9-10 axis for the game and with the younger White away and Jon Goodson on call the Wildboys welcomed Alan ‘Cosher’ Cawston into the front row to be the rose between the thorny Ludgate and Franklin.
An unwelcome combination of wind, rain and cold temperatures resulted in far from ideal conditions, alas the Wildboys fired up and got stuck in early.
The kick off was placed nicely into the Witney 22 and here the Wildboys made camp. An early dominance at Scrum-time saw the Wildboys grab the lead through centre Jayson ‘Squidward’ Abbott who picked up a loose pass and crashed over the line. Bomber added the extras to make the score 7-0.
The Wildboys continued to press on and Maxi Williams bagged a quick brace of tries for himself on what was a memorable return. The first came from a run down the left flank after some fantastic offloads from the forwards and scrum half DC. The second try came off the back of a scrum which continued to bully their opposition in the set piece. Bomber continued his form off of the kicking tee and helped the Wildboys to a 21-0 lead. The final score of the half came from the Wildboys bearded beauty George Hope who used his strength to dot down. Bomber doing his thing again adding another 2 points and the Wildboys found themselves in-front 28-0 halftime with the bonus point already in the bag.
A swift start to the second half in ever deteriorating weather conditions saw the Wildboys quickly pick up from where they left off. Some effective phase play resulted with Harry Franklin crashing over from close range.
Commander in Chief Tom White then rang the changes to his Wildboys side, brining on Wildlings Pipkin and McIntosh along with Chris ‘Jeffers’ Jeffcock to add some dynamism in the forwards. Chinnor continued to press on and played some fantastic rugby, breaking the line on multiple occasions but falling at the final hurdle with the last pass. Eventually the Wildboys were rewarded for their efforts with young gun Pipkin throwing a lovely miss pass to Strathdee who sprinted in from halfway. Unfortunately, Bombers 100% kicking record was halted here with the wind being a spanner in the works, the score a comfortable 40-0 to the Wildboys. Maxi Williams bagged his hat trick after on offload from Jeffers, dotting down after taking contact over the try line and sending the Witney defender on his backside to add insult to injury.
Another Witney kick-off saw the Wildboys enact arguably their best passage of the game. After being collected and recycled well, the ball was given to Martin ‘Father Time’ Bradburn who cantered into the Witney half. Of course, the ball found itself in the hands of Maxi Williams who broke consecutive tackles for fun and needed no help from his supporting team mates before strolling in for his 4th try of the afternoon. Bombers kicking % off of the tee continued to fall but he made amends in play by hot stepping his way through the defence and passed to Strathdee under the posts. This time the extras were added and the score now 59-0. The final passage of play saw Witney clear their lines, the kick collected by Max ‘Weasel’ Wood who manipulated his way through Witney’s scattered and tired defence. With the final conversion a success the score ended a well-earned 66-0 to the Wildboys. Credit must go to Witney who made the Wildboys work hard for their rewards and were a real nuisance at the breakdown on occasion.
Man of the Match was awarded to the returning Maxi Williams for this 4 try haul. Mare of the Match was given to Jayson Abbott who was the recipient of a choke-slam like hand off from one of the Witney forwards.
Next week the Wildboys travel down to Henley on Thames to face the Vikings in what is always a fierce encounter and an opportunity for Oxfordshire Rugby bragging rights. Until then keep it wild…
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Gossip girl xoxo
Man of the Match: Max Williams
Mare of the Match: Jayson Abbott
Tries: J.Abbott, M.Williams (4), G.Hope, T.Strathdee(2), H.Franklin, M.Wood