The sun was shining, the pitch was soft underfoot and the conditions were perfect for Thamesians to look to unleash their fast paced, wide attacking game. But the pressure was on, the return to Waldegrave School was not only important historically but it had to date proved to be profitable with a 100% win rate from the 4 games played there. That provided the fire and belief the team needed for what they knew was sure to be a tough game against a well drilled Wasps outfit.
The desire to make it 5 from 5 was evident before the game even started, a slick warm up routine saw the boys raring to go come kick off. George, captain for the day, won the toss and elected to play with the sun behind the team to try and get some early dominance on the scoreboard. Thamesians received the kick and set off at a blistering pace, strong carries from George, Ben and Kieffer had Ts marching upfield to put pressure on the Wasps defence, which couldn't deal with the relentless onslaught and had to resort to giving away a penalty to stop the rampaging maroon and green machine. A deft nudge from Kieran set up an attacking line out just inside Wasps 22 and the call to maul was well rewarded, the pack trundled forward eating up the yards before being pulled down. Thamesians knew they had a free shot so spun it wide and thanks to some silky interplay from the backs Lincoln was put clear on the wing and raced away to dot down in the corner. Thamesian's early dominance had paid off and they were a try to the good but the steely look in their eyes made it clear they wanted more and more they would soon have.
A brief spell of possession from Wasps was met by spirited defence and after initially conceding yards a turnover from a ruck had Thamesians back on the front foot and making yards through their tried and tested systems. A clearing kick from Kieran didn't quite find touch but the return kick was loose too, the talismanic Flatman ran on to it at pace snaffling it in his big paws and setting of like a high speed train. A shimmy of the hips and big fend saw him career into space and he had the wherewithal to look up and find the speedsters waiting on his outside. The ball whipped down the line and Joey '5 star' Morgan, back by popular demand, was clear and well you don't stop him in space and before you know it he was under the sticks giving Tee-Jay and easy kick to add the extras 12-0 Thamesians and the day was looking bright.
Keen to not rest on their laurels and knowing that in this league you need to make the most of all your opportunities as every point counts, Thamesians were straight back down in Wasps' territory looking to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Another assault on the Wasps defence led to further penalties and a team warning, Ts sensing blood opted to go the corner and set up a rolling maul which had been profitable to them this day. The ball was plucked out the sky and time was taken to ensure that everyone was locked in before the inevitable happened and the Thamesians pack marched on once more. Some valiant defence from Wasps kept them at bay for a short while before they eventually cleared their lines with a kick. But the wind had picked up and once again they were unable to find touch and instead only found Buddha lurking in the backfield....not the man you want to give time and acres of green grass too. A characteristic stutter step and off he went burning his man on the outside before linking up nicely with Lincoln for a 1-2 to get round the last man before scampering over in the corner. The wind was starting to play havoc with kicking but it wasn't enough to deter Tee-Jay who was clearly were his specialist goal kicking boots as he carved it through the posts from out wide on the touchline to add an valuable two points, 19-0 Ts and they were coasting. A scintillating start to the match and one with the vocal spectators on the sidelines were clearly enjoying.
Inevitable as it is in every game, the hope of being able to dominate for a full 80 minutes proved too much and the opposition managed to get a foothold on the game. A brief lapse of concentration from the team, paired with a resurgent fightback from Wasps saw them take a quick tap to burst through a few tackles before being hauled down inches before their try line. Their pack's strong work around the ruck saw them creep every closer before one carry proved too much to defend against and they were on the scoreboard and looking brighter, 19-5 to Ts still gave them a comfortable advantage but it was game on!
Thamesians then proceeded to get caught in the headlights as they allowed the Wasps scrum to assert dominance and walk them back towards their try line. After conceding several penalties before being put on a team warning Thamesians had their backs to the line and threw everything at Wasps to try and repel this latest attack. Despite piling in on defence the pressure finally told and a snipe from the base of the ruck followed by quick hands out wide gave Wasps their second try and Ts early dominance had been replaced by a much more even affair. The first half ended 19-10 to Thamesians but the momentum had definitely shifted, Ts were happy to hear the whistle and could regroup around their coach and captain.
The second half became a cagey affair with both teams knowing what was at stake and Ts were adamant that they wouldn't let their lead slip, they wanted to ensure that Waldegrave maintained it's 100% record. The game become more attritional with both pack looked to gain the front foot with pick and drives either side of the rucks. At scrum time Wasps more sizeable squad was still forcing Ts into giving away penalties but the more lightweight and agile Thamesians pack was making up for it around the park constantly disrupting any periods of sustained opposition pressure. Finally Ts were able to make some inroads, a quickly taken line out was pinged off the top and spun flat to Kieran, a show and go and he was off. Picking his way through the Wasps defenders and with good support either side on the break he was able to sling a pass over the top to brother Joey out wide and he was able to cross for his second unchallenged. The resulting conversion was missed but at 24-10 up Thamesians had daylight again.
A deep kick off saw Wasps begin to apply pressure again and set up camp deep in Thamesians territory. As they worked through the phases Ts realised that they needed to put in a big shift here to lock out and not concede in this crucial part of the game. After some selfless defence with bodies being put on the line Tee-Jay sensed his chance to disrupt, flying up out of the line and putting in a huge shot on his opposite man. The ref however deemed there to be no arms in the tackle and after crumpling his man he was shown a yellow card depleting Ts to 14 men for 10 minutes (I think someone had been inspired by their namesake in an England shirt over the past few weeks!). Wasps saw their opportunity and took it unleashing attack after attack before finally crashing over the try line to bring themselves back in to the game, 24-15, and start Thamesians heart's racing again.
While awaiting the conversion, George gathered his troops around him and gave them some choice words before as one they marched back to the halfway line raring to go again. However the wind was in Wasps' sails and they soon found themselves down where they wanted to be and the home side were once again unable to whether the storm after some energy sapping defence while down to 14 men. Thamesians resolute defence forced Wasps out wide knowing how crucial any additional points from conversions could and despite the opposition crossing the whitewash for their bonus point, matching the one already secured by Thamesians, they once more couldn't convert but they were back to with one score, 24-20.
An unrelenting assault from a desperate Wasps team in the final few minutes was met by heroic, bodies on the line defence and Thamesians batted away strike runner after strike runner final enforcing the turnover which was met by shout of pure elation as the ball was pumped in to touch. Thamesians were able to hold on and come away with a 5 point win, and while they made it difficult for themselves their play in the first 15 minutes was enough to warrant the win. That takes it to 5 from 5 at home for all squads and Waldegrave is quickly becoming the fortress that Marble Hill Park was renowned for. It's onwards and upwards from here as the boys look to continue their charge up the table. Thanks as ever to the supporters who cheers us on come rain or shine.
Lincoln Williamson, Joey Morgan (2), Andre Cabera
Tee-Jay Farrell (2)
Kieffer Ebanks, Tommy D'Arcy, Dom Worley, Ben Armstrong, Mike Jury, Dan Jones, Callum Saville, George Flatman (c), Ben Williams, Kieran Morgan, Lincoln Williamson, Tee-Jay Farrell, Joe Powell, Joey Morgan, Andre Cabera, Louis Thrumble, Callum Godden
Man of the Match:
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