Wymondham get the win they need to clinch title
- Credit: Archant
Mersea Island 16, Wymondham 26: This was a must win game for Wymondham – and they duly won it to clinch the Greene King Eastern Counties League Division One title.
The Red and Blacks knew any slip-up in their final fixture would hand the spoils to Ipswich YM, and leave them facing a promotion play-off, but they coped with the pressure well to come through a tough game at Colchester RFC in some style.
Andy Mackay injured his ankle in the warm-up and had to withdraw so Alan Turner came on to the bench and Lee Bartlett started.
Wymondham were below their best in the opening stages but still led 8-0 after 12 minutes, Steve Simms' penalty being followed by the game's opening try. From a defensive maul, good work by David Blake and Neumi Rokodinono, supported by Dane Canning and Josh Mickleburgh, allowed a good clearance by Harry Anderson-Brown to be retrieved by David Martin who fed Simms to score an unconverted try.
Then another injury to the unlucky Bartlett after 15 minutes saw him having to be replaced and the side was reshuffled again.
A talented Mersea side with no pressure on them could just play a natural game and they nearly scored a try which was adjudged to be held up by the pack. But from the five metre scrum Wymondham were caught offside and Mersea kicked the penalty. Mersea continued to keep the pressure on and but for the speed and defence of Alex Brugger, Onisimo Sigakalele and Martin might have run riot. But eventually some poor defence let them in to score an unconverted try to level the scores at 8-8 after 26 minutes.
A thrust into the Mersea half then led to a defender being penalised for non-release and Simms converted this to make the score 8-11 near to half-time. Wymondham now seemed to switch off and Mersea took full advantage of some poor defence to score an unconverted try to make it 13-11 as the whistle went.
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Wymondham started the second half with Chris Miller replacing a limping Matt Ambrose in the second row. After early pressure a counter- attack by Mersea ended with the visitors being caught offside and a penalty making it 16-11. Now the importance of the match was getting through to this young side and they were beginning to settle down and Simms' penalty brought the score back to 16-14. Then a clearance kick by a Mersea defender was well fielded by Simms who started down the touch line and fed captain Josh Wright who charged through the defensive line to score an unconverted try to regain the lead for the visitors at 16-19.
Wymondham's defence was now acting as the unit it had been all year and a good break by Wilson supported by Nick Ferns and Rob King saw Simms score a good try which he himself converted.
The visitors then saw out the game and the celebrations could begin.
Mersea had made a fight of it all the way and it had been another tough lesson for the youngsters in Wymondham's side.
But they came through it and deserve this reward for a season in which they had also reached a semi-final in a National Cup competition and shown themselves to be a young side that can only get better and better over the next few years.
• A superb weekend for Wymondham was completed at Oakham when the club's Under-12s won the national Landrover Trophy competition for the second year running.
The youngsters beat Market Rasen 4-1 in the final after an 8-0 semi-final win over Nottingham.