Attacking rugby puts Spartans back on track in the Cup
By Andrew Thomson
Diss RFC, 16th December 2018
Squad: Aiden Davies, Alfie Funnell, Ben Harvey, Billy Evans, Cheu Hung Lo, Callum Sparkes (captain), Conrad Harrison, Elliot Moore, Giles Starling, Harry Thomson, Harry Trenerry, Isaac Birch, Jake Garside, James Ketteridge, Joel Holderness, Matt Wernham, Oli Reek, Seth Ahier.
Coaches: Neil Davies, Jim Starling, Andy Thomson.
Diss 0 - 50 Wymondham Spartans
One Cup game played so far, one loss, by one point - it all means this one we have to win. We were at Diss only a month ago when a strong performance saw the Spartans take it by 19-50. There’s no room for complacency as Diss have strong players and can punish teams who give away half chances. They’re short of numbers though, suffering from injuries and winter bugs, so we drop to 14 to match them, and that gives us four rolling subs to keep the tempo high.
Diss get us going and set the maul on their first possession. They’ve got power and patience but not, this time, precision. A knock on gives us a scrum in our 22 and that’s the launch pad for what turns into a welter of tries. Wymondham’s got legs and we stretch them, first running hard to find gaps then Jake kicks long. It takes us deep into the hosts’ half and a miss pass later Matt W is in at the corner with Ben slotting the conversion.
Diss again try the short game, running hard carries from their forwards. It’s well directed but Wymondham have enough muscle for the job and it doesn’t make inroads. When the Spartans get the ball back it’s again hoofed upfield - we want movement and space. Diss get a scrum but lose it, Wymondham pounce and Bill charges over for our second.
It sets the course of the game. Diss have powerful players but the Spartan pack blocks every move and when our backs get the ball we let rip. Thomo’s the next to score, then Jake, Seth from a quick penalty and Isaac who’s returning from the longest layoff for a small but magnificently deformed digit. As ever, we scuff a few chances, kick away some good possession, and we’re still letting out restarts unfold (for good or ill) rather than controlling them, but this is the sort of game Wymondham is made for.
Full credit to Diss though, they look for every chance to get a toehold. Dom, their 9, finds space and it takes a flyer from Jake to halt him. JK notches up another for the Spartans just before the break then great finishing speed from Elliot ensures the second half isn’t going to be any let-off for the hosts. Wymondham are confident in defence and, with Jake at 9 and Ben at 10, snap into attack mode in an instant.
Jake and Harry Thomo each get their second before Diss finally find that foothold and set camp on the Wymondham line. They cross but are held up and a second chance withers on a frugal vine as Jake rips and runs and nearly gets his hattrick. It’s just not Diss’s day with Oli and Joel scoring, respectively, fine forwards and backs’ tries before ref Dick brings proceedings to a halt.
Twelve tries means it’s a really strong Spartan performance to round off 2018 and again shows what we can do when we get to play the game we want to. Thanks and commiserations to Diss who worked their socks off but just didn’t get the breaks or points they deserved. Crus and Holt lie ahead for the Spartans in the Cup in 2019 but for now it’s a chance to enjoy the Christmas lay-off.
Men of the Match: again no men of the match due to the score line but Billy, Ben and Cheu Hung get an extra mince pie each. And one for Matt E who turned out to support despite a blackeye and rattled bonce from training the other night. Happy Christmas all!