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Saddlebacks Complete their Revival

Gareth Jones  Tuesday, April 16, 2002  16:22 GMT

Devizes finished their League fixtures with a comfortable win against Frome. The win completed an amazing turn around for the Saddlebacks, who were facing relegation at Christmas. However 7 wins out of the last 8 matches have seen them rise to finish in 4th place - just a couple of points short of a play-off place.

The Devizes forwards have been the backbone of the clubs success but, on the day, it was their backs who were simply outstanding. Devizes took the lead early on when Will Orr tore through the Frome defence. Marc Heywood converted the try. Mark then completed another superb attacking move from the backs to score under the posts. He converted his own score. At this stage it looked like Devizes might notch up a cricket score, but over-confidence let in a sloppy try from a short penalty. Devizes regrouped and another sweeping move from the three-quarters sent Ryan Wallbridge in for another try, which Heyward converted. Frome snatched a converted try to give them a rather flattering score of 21 v 12 at half time.

Devizes applied the pressure again straight away. Good inter-play between Gavin Curnow and Alex Bennett sent Will Orr in for his second try. Marc Heywood continued his immaculate kicking display by converting the score. The value of Mark's kicking cannot be overestimated as the key factor in the success of Devizes this year. Even in this game it eventually proved the difference between the sides.

A spirited last quarter from Frome, helped by lack of discipline from the Devizes pack, saw Frome score 2 more tries and put the Saddlebacks under some pressure. But Marc Heywood kicked two further penalties and kept Devizes in control of the game. The Saddlebacks would have ran out even more comfortable winners, but for two farcical incidents in the final moments of the game.

The first came when Ryan Wallbridge completed a flying dive to score a try. Unfortunately he had mistaken the 5m line for the try line and had completed his swan dive on the wrong line! The comedy was compounded when, from the resulting scrum, Steve Rose scored the try anyway but the referee felt he may have been held up by a mystery Frome defender. The referee carefully pulled one Devizes player after another off Rosey but no defenders were found. He decided not to give the try anyway - much to the amusement of everyone, including the Frome players!

Congratulations to the players who have turned the season around in such a stunning fashion. Let's hope that, after some vigorous Summer training, they can commence a promotion campaign next September!

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