Wells entertained last season’s Western Cos (N) Runners Up Chew Valley, in a game sponsored by The George Inn, Crosscombe.
Hurricane Irma must have suddenly tracked North East at around 2pm because the heavens opened, flooding the training pitch, but thanks to a number of years of hard work from Alan Goymer and his grounds team, the 1st team pitch stood up to all the elements with the match itself starting on time and played in breezy cross field conditions.
Playing up the slope in the first half the Wells team, missing their stand out player from last week’s winning start at Winscombe, Callum Stonier and their ball carrying No8 Al Payne, coped well with some early Chew pressure and with the defence holding firm, Aaron Cook was able to gain ground up the right with some excellent kicking out of hand.
After 10 minutes, Lewis Cohen who had a great game particularly in the line out, won ball on half way. Jamie Payne and Jordan Krause both made ground before scrum half Jake Knight snipped down the narrowest of blind side’s to open the scoring with a try in the corner.
Five minutes later, his brother and hooker Al Knight was yellow carded and with the laws now demanding eight are always in the scrum, Wells started to struggle to contain a well drilled visitors back line.
Chew got on the scoreline when they kicked a penalty to within five metres and two drives they scored a try under the posts, the conversion taking them 7-5 ahead.
Even without the touchlined Al Knight, Wells were playing some good rugby mixing up their game and clearly worrying their more experienced opponents.
Cook made a good break, only to see his pass intercepted in the Chew 22 and only great covering from George Killen, Liam Barlow and Harry Peters prevented a length of the field try.
Peters was then judged offside at a ruck, giving Chew an easy chance to increase the lead to 10-5, before missing a penalty himself from a similar position.
With time running down to the interval, Chew executed a really good move down their left, poor defence out wide not helping the Wells cause.
5-15 down and turning round with the slope in their favour still gave the large home support and the players hope and a combination of strong running from Al Knight and Ben Knight, plus home debutant James Reed, kept Wells on the front foot.
The game turned on one refereeing decision.
A ruck in front of the clubhouse, resulted in some punches being exchanged and two players, the Chew hooker and Wells captain Sean Hegarty being red carded, another Chew player getting yellow.
Wells brought on Dan Solway for Peters, who moved to scrum half, allowing Jake Knight to move to inside centre.
Solway got into the line well and again Wells threatened only for a well marshalled Chew defence to cover well and prevent the comeback.
Losing Hegarty proved crucial and Chew took full advantage at scrum time, something they had not managed up until that point..
Now winning a string of penalties, they started to dominate the later exchanges and with it their confidence grew, with backs and forwards interchanging well.
Player coach Al Simons came on due to the difficulties in the scrum, with Shane Ingram replacing Cook who took a nasty blow in the back.
Reed and Knight nearly got Liam Barlow away on the right, but again the visitors defence got back in time to cover.
The last fifteen minutes saw Chew in total control and with Wells tiring they capitalised with three more tries putting a rather glossy look on the scoreboard.
Wells will now prepare for a difficult trip to Cheltenham next week where they take on Chosen Hill, in the knowledge that they are not playing badly, need to take opportunities when they present themselves, but must make first up tackles.
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