Calne Rugby were crowned Dorset & Wiltshire 1XV Plate champions with an impressive 3-17 win over Westbury RFC.
The final, which was hosted by North Dorset RFC was a hotly contested match between two sides who had met the previous Saturday in the league with Calne grinding out a hard-fought win.
During the early exchanges, it became clear that it would be another tough battle as both packs looked to gain the upper hand. Westbury attacked with purpose as it wasn’t long before their early pressure paid off as they were awarded a penalty which they slotted between the uprights to take an early lead.
However, Westbury were unable to register another score as Calne defended well with thumping tackles from Matt Kelly, Chris McAlonan and Bruce Harper repelling any attack mounted. Calne were also attacking with purpose as Rhys Taylor, Marcus Turner and Adam Young all making their presence felt as they looked for openings to break the Westbury line.
Calne’s opening try was from a lineout which was driven over the line by hooker Dave Evans and converted by Rhys Taylor to put Calne into the lead 3-7.
The game continued to be evenly contested with both sides having success in the scrum and lineout. Westbury started the second half looking for an early score and were awarded a kickable penalty but elected to kick to the corner for a lineout. However, the lineout was gathered by the men in blue and the danger was averted.
Calne continued to look for gaps in the Westbury defence and prop Pete Brownlie put in a monumental effort to break through tackles to drive his team towards the try line. Scrum half Dan Treacy confidently managed the game and Keith Bradley seemed to be at every breakdown to upset Westbury’s rhythm.
Calne were then awarded a penalty and Taylor stepped up to make it 3-10. From the restart Westbury put the pressure on but Calne refused to be denied as Dan Oakford, George Fryer and Alan Wicks put their bodies on the line with some aggressive tackling.
With the game still in the balance it looked like it was going to be a nail biting finish until Jamie Palmer capitalised on a mistake to kick through an out sprint the Westbury wing and looked certain to score before being tackled off the ball. However, (Centre) Adam Young was in support and crashed over line. Taylor converted to make it 3-17.
Calne’s Chairman Chris Austin was delighted with the result and said “ We always have tough battles against Westbury and once again they made us work hard for the victory. But I am very proud of the guys and they deserve this cup success. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came along to support us including our President Phil Thomas, Vice presidents and our shirt sponsors Bevirs Solicitors. I would also like to congratulate Westbury on getting to the final and performing so well, they are a great bunch of lads, the photo of both teams together after the match truly shows what the sport is all about. We now look forward to being entered into the National cup competition with the final being played at Twickenham”.
A jubilant Captain Tom Morten said “ This is a great day for the club and Westbury played well and caused us a few issues but our defence stood strong and I’m just delighted and proud to bring the trophy home to Calne”
Player coach handed the coaching reigns to James Morten for the day because he was in the starting XV, when asked about the game after:
It was a real honour to play in this game, I’ve now got 2 winners medals with Calne RFC and they are 15 years apart, let’s hope I can make it 3. This was a personal achievement but on the day it was totally clouded by the performance of the team, no-one could have asked for more commitment, the build up before the game was relaxed, the changing room was silent but full of atmosphere, everyone agreed not to leave anything on the pitch and they didn’t, it was a good hard game of rugby and our defence was virtually faultless, if there’s ever a game where a good defence wins a game then this was it, ours was outstanding, everybody put their bodies on the line and to stop Westbury from getting over the try line gives it the recognition it deserves.