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Saddlebacks 27 - Ivel Barbarians 29

Ray Taylor  Sunday, October 21, 2001  13:02 GMT

With only 2 League points each from three games both teams had much to play for.  Devizes were soon on the backfoot when Ivel made up for a missed penalty kick with a converted try that exposed Devizes defensive weaknesses in open play.  After this rather subdued start the Saddlebacks were spurred into action, recycling the ball well through four phases of play to almost put winger Richard Cassleden over.  Then from a five metre scrum what would have been a try scoring pass was intercepted by Ivel and another opportunity was lost.  Undaunted Devizes pack set about controlling the set pieces.  Only lack of support prevented Devizes scoring when James Gaiger picked up a loose ball in midfield and sprinted 4O metres before being tackled.  The Saddlebacks drew level after winning a series of scrums allowing Ryan Wallbridge to waltz through the Ivel defence to score.  Tom Collins converted for 7 - 7.

It was patently obvious that Devizes pack could dictate play of only they maintained discipline, patience and concentration, and were put into Ivel territory.  Unfortunately they did not always adhere to this pattern and Devizes frequently gifted Ivel possession.  However a penalty conversion by Tom Collins from a difficult angle gave Devizes the lead for the first time after 25 minutes play.  This was shortlived as Ivel secured possession from a restart kick and ran the ball back, to score in the corner.  With the conversion Ivel were back in the lead 14 - 1O. 

Devizes continued to win a lot of set piece ball but failure to offload the ball before the tackle, combined with careless passing, thwarted their attacking efforts.  In contrast, Ivel made it look easy when they executed a simple threequarter loop movement to give their winger another opportunity to show off his pace and elusiveness in scoring.  Devizes therefore went in at half time 19 - 1O down and so for another week were faced with the prospect of playing catch up rugby.

From the restart Devizes regained the ball deep in the Ivel half and forced a lineout, from which they drove over to score.  Gavin Curnow was credited with the try.  For once Devizes applied a simple formula well!  At 15 - 19 down, Devizes played with a new resolve.  Richard Slater exercised increasing control over the game with some varied and accurate kicks, whilst hooker Ian Carter marked his return from injury by taking a ball against the head, then receiving the ball from an ensuing ruck to brush several tackles aside and set up Chris Maundrell to score, nudging Devizes ahead 2O -19.

Overeagerness gave Ivel another penalty, which they accepted to recover their lead: 22 - 2O. Three further penalties drained Devizes spirit and it was not surprising that a poor Devizes drop out was latched onto by Ivel. An overlapping move once again released their right winger to score his second try. A conversion extended their lead to 29 - 2O. With the game slipping away Devizes picked up a stray Ivel kick, interpassed well and gave Ryan Wallbridge his second try.  The final whistle went shortly afterwards, with Ivel pipping Devizes 29 - 27.

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