Puddletown 20 CRICKLADE 19
AS their early season league form suggested there was little to choose between these two sides as they fought out this Dorset & Wilts Plate quarter-final, with the result in doubt right up to the final whistle.
In the end though, it was Puddletown that prevailed, their victory by a single point earning them a semi-final clash with old rivals Poole on November 10.
Despite being delayed on their two-hour trip from Wiltshire, it was Cricklade who were first to settle and their early pressure was only relieved by a determined 30-metre break-out by number eight Paul Chidley.
Lifted by this the home side started to put together some good phases and two unconverted tries midway through the half gave them a 10-point cushion by the break.
Firstly, captain Tom Yeatman cleverly fired a long kick behind the visiting defence allowing new man Tom Turney to chase it up and pop a short pass out to winger James House to run in and score.
Then minutes later, good pressure from Puddletown’s forwards forced a penalty five metres out and the quick-thinking Chidley proved unstoppable as he powered over from his own tapped kick.
Into the second period, and as the home side reorganised following a couple of injuries, the visitors responded with renewed ambition taking just five minutes to reduce the deficit with a fine individual try from their full back.
Fly-half Lloyd added the extras and then shortly after kicked long for his winger to take advantage of some fumbled handling in the home defence to score in the corner to give the Division Two North table-toppers a two-point lead.
The conversion attempt failed and with all still to play for the game entered its final quarter.
Back came the Villagers and they regained the lead after a well controlled rolling maul ended when Chidley was adjudged to have been held up on the line.
From the resulting five-metre scrum the hosts made no mistake as Yeatman’s inside pass gave Matt Watts the space to dart through and touch down.
The skipper added the two points only for the visitors to immediately fashion another score out wide that Lloyd converted.
Behind again, and with just five minutes remaining, Puddletown dug deep and stormed upfield to eventually force a penalty some 25-metres out.
Yeatman elected to trust his boot to secure the three points and the lead but there was still more to come as a nail-biting climax saw Cricklade force not one but two similar chances to snatch the victory.
However, fortune favoured the Villagers with both of Lloyd’s long-range kicks falling just short.
Dorset Piddle Brewery Man of the Match: Ed Sealey
* Bridport were handed a walkover in the Dorset & Wilts Senior Vase after Warminster forfeited the game.