Picture gallery: Rugby: Walden gear up for crunch match with Ipswich with win over Holt

Action from Walden's win over Holt Action from Walden's win over Holt

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
1:14 PM

Such is the improvement of Saffron Walden this season that the coaches were not amused by the team’s 30-12 win against Holt

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Tom HughesTom Hughes

A win is a win and the bonus point keeps Walden firmly in second place, just behind Ipswich – who they play on Saturday.

But they let Holt off the hook on Saturday as they could and should have played better.

It was not the ideal preparation the team was after going into a crunch match that may decide the outcome of the league come the end of the season.

Player-coach Tom Hughes underlined just how important that game could be.

“The season doesn’t hinge on it [the game against Ipwsich] but the result will have a big impact on the rest of the season,” he told the Reporter.

“Win and we are top at Christmas, going into the second New Year motivated and full of confidence; lose and there will be a great deal of disappointment.

“The win is all we want.”

Holt brought a forwards-dominated game plan but the Walden forwards created the first score when after 7 minutes. They won a penalty and kicked to the corner, and in a well rehearsed routine set up the driving maul from eight metres out and drove towards the line. Holt stopped the drive just short but with all their forwards sucked in scrum-half Will Brown took the ball from the back and dived over for an unconverted try.

Three minutes later Walden had worked their way back in to the visitor’s half and when they conceded the penalty for offside full-back Tom Price kicked to put Walden ahead by 8-0.

Walden were dominant at this stage but when they knocked on deep inside the Holt half they were caught napping from the subsequent scrum as the Holt scrum-half picked up from the base. Holt found themselves with a 3-on-2 and took their opportunity well, giving the winger a 50-yard dash to the line.

Straight from the kick off Holt conceded another penalty and Price kicked the three point, and Walden stretched their lead with another kick to the corner and another fine drive from the line out. This time they were not stopped as prop Steven Mugridge took the ball over the line.

Holt were quick out of the blocks in the second half as Walden made a couple of mistakes giving away a couple of penalties and Holt kicked to the corner. This time it was Holt’s turn to score from a driving maul and eventually they managed to get the ball over the line despite what appeared to be Walden hands under the ball, the referee gave the try.

Holt must have thought they were in with a shot of winning the game, but five minutes later Walden had scored again when the whole team got involved in taking the ball from deep inside their own half and working it from left to right through several phases of possession they made good ground.

Each time they sucked in more of the Holts defence and then proceeded to work the ball the other way and found a mismatch with backs against forwards and spun the ball wide. Price joined the line and ran through a gap to score under the posts. He converted the extra two points to stretch the lead to 23-12.

For the next 25 minutes Walden went looking for the bonus point try but some fine defence from Holt kept them out and equally Walden had to defend well themselves to stop Holt from narrowing the gap.

In the final couple of minutes Walden had worked the ball deep into the Holt 22 and forced the visitors to concede a penalty six metres out and as they debated on going for the corner Price took the tap hoping to catch the visitors napping. They were alive to the situation and he was initially held up but managed to turn and the ball was fed back and captain for the day, second row James Gosden took the ball off the back and dived towards the line and just got the ball on the line for the bonus point try. Price converted leaving the final score at 30-12.

“If we’d have played like that last season we would have lost. We seem to be able to grind out a result. But the big difference now is the expectations are so much higher,” said Hughes.

“It was convincing in the scoreline [against Holt] but we’re not overly happy with our play. We let them off the hook and it wasn’t ideal preparation for Ipswich.

“We tried to force things too early and made some silly errors. There is definitely room for improvement.”

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