RLC SAXONS got the season off to flying start with a welldeserved win, following a tough encounter against an abrasive WALLINGFORDXV. RLC SAXONS welcomed the loan of front row stalwarts Paul Watt, LeeTaylor and Northy from Abingdon RFC, who without them would have resulted in afixture of non-contested scrums. They provided the perfect mix of ‘bulkstrength & speed?’ that allowed the young SAXON pack to more thanhold their own – against their experienced opponents. With just a singletraining session under their belts, the SAXON players had to gel quickly andsettle into the game. The first quarter was evenly matched and played atpace, with some good attacking and defensive play from both sides, eager todominate from the start. The Wallingford back line attacked with someforce, but the SAXON defence held strong with some great tackling from PteStock (4CSLR) who delivered a relentless work rate, even the ever green andyouthful(ish) Sgt Jamie Coleman(3CSLR) provided some big hits and ‘all round’solid display - often relieving the pressure in the back line. SAXON skipperCpl Taff Price (3CSLR) bossed the flow of play from ‘stand off’, making thenecessary quick fire decisions that paved the way forward for SAXON momentum,with centre Lt Brodie Watson (4CSLR) putting in barn storming runs, braking thegain line on many occasions. It was not long before the SAXONS started todominate, as the mobile pack, led by the ‘very capable’ lock Lt Oscar-Todd(29Regt) - drove back Wallingford deep into their ‘22’, this continued in quicksuccession resulting in Pte Taff Baker (4CSLR) burrowing his way over the linebehind a wall of SAXON forwards. Wallingford, determined from therestart, immediately applied pressure with a couple of big units threatening topenetrate the SAXON line, however the boys dug deep with a solid defence andgreat display of determined tackling and counter rucking. This set up thefield of play for scrum-half Cpl Tuiloma (SRR) to work his magic, showing greatstrength and speed, before bullocking his way over the line. Wallingford againresponded well and continued to apply pressure with a fast break from theirwinger who managed to squeeze through the SAXON defence to score in the corner,bringing the score line to 5-12. With the final stages of the first halfclosing in, SAXONS winger LCpl Dave Carter (17P&M) provided the much neededpace to outstrip his opposite number and power through to score, stretching thescoreline to 5-19. The heavy Wallingford pack were quick to pick up steamand hit back, working their way deep into the SAXONS ‘22’, this was followed bysome quick phase ball which sent their centre crashing through to narrow thescore line, including conversion, to 12-19.
With rolling subs agreed, theSAXONS were able to ‘blood in’ several more young players as Wallingford sent for reinforcements from thetraining paddock. With a strong bench to draw from, Pte Jamie Milburn (3CSLR) – (experienced rugby leagueplayer) made his first rugby union debut. His impact on the game wasimmediate, showing solid ‘bone crunching’ defence work and equally aggressivein attack – one to watch for the future. Notable pack performances camefrom ‘Lock/Back Row’ Pte Arron Richmond (4CSLR), with a frenetic work rate,making every breakdown, his presence was felt all around the park and rewardedwith a well worked rolling maul allowing him to pick up and drive over theline. Pack leader Lt Oscar-Todd – delivered in spades, particularly effectivein the loose and extremely mobile. Returning from long term injury Cpl‘Baby’ Joe Kubanavanua (4CSLR) defined the term ‘impact player’, punching holesin the Wallingforddefence and scoring a superb try leaving ‘would be tacklers’ in his wake. 4CSLR fielded a strong mix of youthful talent, Pte’s Stock, Lucipher Johnson,Curtis King and fullback Pte ‘Goose’ Bromley all displayed great pace, visionand support play around the park – great effort. Wallingford, forever resilient, tried theirlevel best to close the score line, and they proved a tough contest for SAXONSas they drew on their more experienced players. However, towards thelatter stages of the second half, the SAXONS had established control of thegame and looked relatively comfortable with a commanding lead and final scoreof 17–33. This was a great ‘all round’ team performance from apredominantly ‘young’ group of exciting players.