Away win is Wymondham rugby target
Wymondham rugby club's chief coach John Whitehead wants to see his side finally start to win away games after recording their third home success of the season at the weekend.
The Red and Blacks overcame a late fright to beat Mersea Island 26-21 in London Division 3NE to close the gap on their fellow strugglers to just one point.
Wymondham may still be second from bottom in the table, but in a tight division they are now just three points behind sixth placed South Woodham Ferrers and Whitehead feels only an away hoodoo is stopping them from moving up the league.
'We targeted five points from the Mersea Island game because it was a game we felt we could win comfortably,' said the coach, who was appointed at the start of the season.
'Unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way but we got the win and now it's important we follow it up at Wisbech on Saturday.
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'For some reason we just can't seem to win away from Tuttles Lane – it's been that way for a couple of seasons now. We just seem to have a mental block about it and that has to change if we are going to achieve a mid-table finish this season, which we are well capable of doing with the group of players we have here.'
Wymondham were disappointed to allow Mersea Island the solitary bonus point that kept them above the Red and Blacks after a game that the hosts largely dominated and yet so nearly lost in the dying minutes.
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On a pitch in surprisingly good condition after the recent snow the visitors profited from their first attack when Danny Kerr converted the first of his three penalties after just 10 minutes play.
This signalled a frenetic 10 minutes, with Wymondham hitting back almost immediately when Pena Sokia burst through to score from the restart and James Wyatt converted. Mersea then regained the lead following some sloppy play by the Wymondham defence which allowed the Mersea scrum half to squeeze over for a try in the corner.
On the restart Wymondham won a penalty that Wyatt just failed to convert but then Mersea presented the ball back to Sokia who took on three Mersea defenders before releasing Colts player Jake Gover, who sprinted 50m to score his first senior try for the club. Wyatt's conversion gave the Red and Blacks a 14-8 half-time lead.
Mersea closed the gap five minutes into the second half with a Kerr penalty but Wymondham then put in a team performance, winning four penalties that culminated in another Sokia break that in turn gave Alex Brugger a score that brought a huge cheer from the home support.
Mersea refused to lie down though as they then disrupted a well worked Wymondham scrum, breaking out for what looked like a certain score until some brave last ditch defence by debutant Tom Crowe and Stephen Simms miraculously held the ball up over the line for an attacking scrum.
Any reprieve was short lived as Mersea's Kerr ghosted through to score and then converted his own try. Signaling a nail biting final ten that was to intensify in the closing minutes.
Having felt the game was theirs Wymondham were stunned and needed to respond. The crowd got behind the team and played some forceful and aggressive rugby, forcing Mersea back relentlessly but without reward. However, when the final score came it was skill as opposed to the bludgeoning approach that produced it. Justin Loveridge's pinpoint chip and young Gover's pace undid the visitors, with Wyatt icing the cake with a sweet conversion.
A desperate finish ensued after Wymondham lost Chris Brown to a yellow card while Simms and Sokia were struggling with injuries.
Mersea flung everything at Wymondham through seven minutes of injury time. In the end all they could achieve was a single penalty that gave then a losing bonus point.
The win put Wymondham in good heart for Saturday's crucial trip into the Cambridgeshire Fens when they face a beleaguered Wisbech, beaten 46-3 at Norwich last week, but Wymondham must be mindful of the wounded animal and expect a hard fixture.