RUGBY: Devizes 32 Walcot 6

DEVIZES strengthened their grip on top spot in Southern Counties South with a bonus-point success at home to Walcot.

Four tries proved enough to secure maximum five points and maintain the Saddlebacks’ promotion aspirations.

With a large home support due to a Sponsors lunch present prior to the match, the Saddlebacks were looking to get their fourth win on the bounce in Southern Counties South.

With Jorge Wadman a late drop-out due to a problematic hamstring and little depth and availability within the backs throughout the club, Chris Barter stepped up into the wing berth – a deserved call up for the usual second team full back.

The pack saw two changes, with young Olly Gibb coming into replace the unavailable Lewis Paget and Chris Lewis getting a rare start at tighthead prop.

The replacements bench saw two front row forwards in Steve Rowbotham and Toby Randall with Hugo O’Neil taking the last bench place.

The game started at a ferocious pace with both packs looking to assert their dominance.

An infringement at the breakdown allowed fly=half Andy Thompson an early shot at goal, which he converted.

Walcot were playing well and made a number of inroads themselves.

A knock on by the home side in the Walcot 22 allowed the visitors to clear their lines.

However, the resulting scrum was won against the head as the Devizes front row showed dominance to turn over possession.

Further carries in the forwards by the back row trio of James Gaiger, Craig Bryant and Julian Taylor allowed quick ball to be freed up for Lewis to carry strongly through the centre of the pitch and to bundle over the line, Thompson adding the extras.

Walcot did hit back with a penalty of their own to reduce the deficit but were punished with devastating effect, as Devizes captain Tom Collins scurried over for a well-taken try, Thompson adding the extras with the boot.

Despite a passage of error-strewn play, Taylor crossed the try line after an assist from inside centre and man of the match Rory Brown, Thompson converting for a 24-3 lead at half time.

The second half saw Walcot dominate a number of periods and add a secnd penalty.

Thompson responded to extend the Saddlebacks lead and Steve Rowbotham and Toby Randall came on to bolster the front row.

The bonus point score did not arrive until the final few minutes when Barter sneaked in at the corner.

MORE RUGBY REPORTS, REACTION & PICTURES IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD

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