Josh Love - finally broke the deadlock
Witney 5 Newbury Blues 17
BLUES ground out a win in the cold to break their Witney duck and score a rare success in Oxfordshire.
The result did not alter the top three placings in South West One East with Maidenhead and Old Patesians also winning, but it put an eight point gap between Blues in the rest in advance of the next international break.
It was a game that Blues looked like running away with as they dominated the opening 30 minutes without making it count, although they had two tries disallowed with scrum half Joe Piggott denied each time. He, and most others, thought that he had opened the scoring afterwards and both teams were lining up for the conversion when the referee ruled that a forward pass had been delivered in the build-up.
And midway through the half, Pigott scythed through the home defence to get to the line, but the ball pinged up quickly and the try was ruled out for the player losing control in the touchdown.
They finally got one to count after 35 minutes when Dan Thorne broke to set up Josh Love for the score before adding the conversion for the only points of the half.
Witney made three tactical changes, and with the wind changing direction, had Blues pinned back for long periods, breaking through after 53 minutes through centre Matt Clarke, fly half George Lewis missing the extra on a nightmare day for him with the boot.
Dan Thorne potted a penalty midway through the period to add a little breathing space, and defensive duties did the rest before Josh Bartlett’s late converted try sent Blues home happy.
“We had the chances to get a bonus point in the first half,” said head coach Lee Goodall. “We had to defend at times in the second half but we did that well and it was a good win for us and I’m happy with that.”
Witney: Lamb; Collins, Lamboune, Clarke, Thomas; Lewis, G. Campbell; Fuller, Harris, Richens; Coe, Mortimer; C. Campbell, Collins, Bayliss. Reps: Burke, Morgan, Webb.
Newbury Blues: Bartlett; Walker, D. Thorne, Love, T. Thorne; Wackwitz, Pigott; Hicks, Drysdale, Macauley; Bastable, Doel; Winfield, D. Stewart, Jones. Reps: G. Stewart, O’Shea, Futcher.