Villager travelled out to a blustery Gustrow to take on Strand. Not an easy encounter considering the conditions and the relatively unknown attributes that the opposition possessed. Sitting near the foot of the table Strand had somehow managed to pull out a 26 all draw against high flying Collegians the week before so definitely not to be underestimated.
The conditions were always going to play into the hands of the opposition with this one. The wind was tricky coming mostly across the field and slightly in favour of the team playing towards Cape Town. Village played into the wind in the 1st half and did a good job in keeping the ball in hand and building the phases. The tackle count for Strand must have been enormous as Village dominated almost all possession and territory but struggled to penetrate the tigerish and very determined Strand defence. Eventually scrumhalf Zubs Abrahams found a neat little hole on the side of a ruck and sniped over under the poles. Clarke converted 7 nil.
Following the try it was more of the same as Village showed passages of brilliance but were unable to get over the whitewash. Just before half-time and totally against the run of play Strand jumped on a Village midfield error in their own 22m and following a few chips and lucky bounces finished off under the poles. Not the result Village were looking for just before halftime. The conversion was missed in a rather unusual fashion as Junaide Josephs caught the attempted conversion from in front of the poles. Something many have never witnessed before in a rugby game. 7-5 Half time.
After a stern talking to by the coaches Village came out in the 2nd half with a bit more intent and converted this energy almost immediately into points with Ashley Clarke picking up from behind a tighthead scrum to go blind and finish off. Clarke narrowly missed a just about impossible conversion. 12-5 Villager.
With Strand clearly starting to tire after making lots of tackles prop Nic Vetsos, who continues to impress in the loose week after week, physically burst through a couple of tackles to offload to his fellow front row partner, hooker Nic Wood, who showed fantastic strength, speed and pure determination to dot down over the line. One of the greatest Villager tries to date this season by two players who had incredible games in Gustrow. Clarke converted 19-5.
Village then jumped on a Strand mistake in the Village 22m to finish off what would have been an extraordinary full field try had it not been for the linesman who intervened to judge a rather marginal late tackle by wing Junaide Josephs. The try was disallowed and play was brought all the way back to the Village 22m. Strand then somehow managed to salvage a try and went onto miss the conversion. 19-10.
The final 15 minutes of the game was rather strange as the Villages’ penalty count went from 8 to 20 in this period. The game was never in jeopardy but it was disappointing that the 4th bonus point try could not be taken.
Man of the match went to Nic Vetsos. His second of the season and the first game this season he has not scored a try.
Village play a friendly against Richmond FC, from the UK, on Monday the 16th of May and then travel to Helderberg on the 21st of May for a very important fixture. The 1st team is currently 4th on the log.