New Brighton 0 Anselmians 40
A job done.
Anselmians must have been apprehensive about their visit to Hartsfield knowing that they were fortunate to win at home last October. In the end, they were comfortable victors, winning by six tries and five conversions to nil.
Notwithstanding some solid defence, this was not a vintage performance. Opportunities were taken and New Brighton’s errors were punished, but against a more sophisticated side, the visitors would have been tested. Indeed, when the home side were reduced to twelve men, Anselmians’ tactical naïveté was shown by the fact that they only added one score to their total.
The pitch was deemed playable, although there was some debate beforehand. In the end, both sides coped, but it was not a day for running rugby.
New Brighton started brightly and had the better of the early exchanges. Saints struggled to make headway and it was somewhat against the run of play that a switch by stand-off Andy Cummings found Iain Taylor. The full-back accelerated and fed scrum-half Liam Sadler who outpaced the defence to score wide out. Taylor converted and Saints led 7-0.
New Brighton’s plan was simple and direct. Short passes and direct running were met by solid Anselmian defence, although the home side was guilty of spilling the final pass on more than one occasion. Like last week, Saints’ pack was beginning to take control and Sadler began to dictate the play by a series of blindside box kicks. A tap penalty by Sadler found the influential Sam Russell who released centre Charlie Hough. The powerful centre carried several tacklers on his back as he crossed near the post. Taylor added a simple conversion and Anselmians led 14-0 after half an hour.
Brighton’s attempts to break out were hampered by poor decision making and a clever move involving Sadler, skipper Nick HEARN and wing Harry Southern led to the scrum-half charging down a clearance kick and gleefully scoring his second try. With Taylor’s metronomic boot adding the two points, Anselmians led 21-0 after 33 minutes. New Brighton’s resistance was broken when Hough picked up a loose ball on the New Brighton 10 metre line and galloped away to score his second. Once again, the impeccable Taylor converted and, as half-time arrive, Saints had their bonus point and likely victory at 28-0.
Anselmians kicked off the second half with the wind in their favour and quickly established base camp in the Brighton half. A prolonged period of scrum, lineout, and scrum activity in the New Brighton 22 produced nothing, although the home side could not break out, despite their best efforts. Several attempts to run out of defence were met with solid Anselmian tackling and Brighton were invariably let down by poor passing. A great line break by Hough ended when, instead of passing to his overlapping team mates, the burly centre opted to go alone and was brought down. Twenty minutes into the second half and New Brighton had not visited Anselmian territory.
On the hour, a collective madness affected the home side. First Southern was felled by a straight arm, then Southern again was barged trying to chase his kick ahead. Both offenders received yellow cards and the latter miscreant thought it highly amusing to reduce his struggling colleagues to thirteen men. When a third player was binned, one spectator pointed out that there were more players on the touchline than the pitch. This wasn’t true, but it was a measure of the frustration felt by the home support.
Saints should have now spread to ball wide to stretch the thin defence but all they managed was a regulation move when Russell cantered behind the posts and Taylor added his fifth conversion to make it 35-0 on 70 minutes. The restart gave New Brighton the opportunity to visit the Saints’ half but Anselmians were soon back attacking. A scrum on the New Brighton 22 allowed Sadler to feed Cummings and straightforward passing created a chance for winger Adam Bramhall to score in the corner. For once, Taylor missed, although it was probably his cleanest strike of the day.
Anselmians played well in patches and were certainly good value for their 40-0 victory. However, coach McKinney will be concerned that, given their numerical advantage over a game, but limited, opposition, they did not totally dominate.
As for New Brighton, they remain in anchored to the bottom of the table. The programme said their position “is truly NOT a reflection on the team’s performances. They genuinely deserve to be higher than this and they will be by the end of play.” Perhaps, but this club, with its proud and distinguished history, is in dire straits and will need a miracle to survive in this division.