By Andy Brown
Crewe 21 – Worcester 12
A fabulous performance for 80 minutes by all 19 players resulted in a memorable win against 2nd placed Worcester yesterday to move Crewe into 4th position and only 5 points from 2nd place.
The mysterious 19th man was the large crowd, swelled by club players from the 2nds, 3rds and 4ths who roared their club mates to victory in what was the best performance by the 1st XV this season.
Head Coach, Andy Dudley, has demonstrated his expert coaching ability to bring the best out of these senior players and the improvements in their play over the last couple of years has been tremendous.
There is more to come from these players.
The 2nds, captained by Dave Germain, are major promotion contenders in their league and with players regularly stepping up successfully to play 1st XV such as Tom Roberts and Gareth Barton, it shows the quality within the club.
Crewe started the game without the ball as Worcester kept possession for the first 10 minutes probing the Crewe defence with both ball in hand and kicks to the corners.
This purple patch for Worcester did not result in any points for them and the frustration started to show as Worcester players tried to intimidate the Crewe forwards with skirmishes breaking out at regular intervals.
Slowly, the tide started to turn and the Crewe boys who had defended well started to win some possession.
Worcester players tried to hold off and block the Crewe support runners which resulted in more scuffles.
After 15 minutes, a Yellow card was issued to flanker, Josh Collins, for an apparently dangerous tackle but Crewe not phased by the incident turned up the throttle.
The next 10 minutes, playing with 14 men, scrumhalf, Charlie Hutchings driving his forwards on, resulted in Crewe controlling possession with multiple phases of play with the pods making ground through lead runners Robinson, McGregor and Woodward coming to the fore.
The pressure eventually told, winning 2 penalties, both for offside,outside the Worcester 22 and both were converted by fullback, Toby Ward.
The Crewe defensive line lead by centre, Mike Greatbanks, was working well and is starting to look a formidable unit.
The first Crewe try came shortly after the return of Collins and from a scrum on the left of the Worcester 22, no 8 Kirk Robinson, picked up from the base of a strong Crewe scrum and charged in field setting up a ruck, secured quickly by centre Robbo Roberts latching on to the charging Robinson.
The ball was moved swiftly to the right through the backs of scrumhalf, Hutchings and flyhalf, Scott Cann with another ruck being set up 10 mtrs from the Worcester line.
The Crewe game plan was based on keeping control of the ball and not giving it away cheaply and so the forwards went through a series of pick and drives, each time gaining a couple of metres and finally Robinson powered his way over the line carrying a couple of defenders with him.
The score at half time was 11-0.
Crewe are conscious that the period immediately after half time is a key period in the match particularly when leading at half time. The instructions from Head Coach, andy Duddley, was more of the same to control the ball and play in their 22 with kicks to the corners.
Crewe started the half well but Worcester, who are a fine team, conjured up a magnificent try of their own.
From a lineout just outside the Crewe 22 on the left hand side of the pitch, the Worcester forwards set up a driving maul releasing quick ball to the backs.
The Flyhalf with exquisite hands showed the ball and then with a little dummy first, popped the ball up to the Worcester centre, Ollie Meadows, who cut a fantastic line at pace to smash through the Crewe defence to score near the posts which he duly converted himself.
A quality try at any level.
Game on as the play went from end to end.
Crewe, determined to beat a top team and with the crowd really getting behind them started to gain field position.
A big tackle by centre Robbo Roberts brought a roar from the crowd and incisive runs by the back 3 of wings Joe Gammage, Tim Cowap and fullback Toby Ward put Worcester on the defensive and under great pressure.
A line break by Roberts just outside the Worcester 22 resulted in a loose ball on the ground after a Worcester tackle but flanker, Josh Cillins, hacked through chasing the ball which he dived on over the line to score a fine try.
Worcester, were not beaten yet and have the ability to come from behind as their forwards engineered a pushover try which was not converted.
Crewe suffering from a lack of practice on grass for the last 4 weeks due to the construction of new floodlights have not been able to practice scrummaging and it reflected at the end of the game as their tired legs struggled in the scrummage.
With all 3 bench players of prop Al Hargreaves, 2nd row Pat Fray and wing Gareth Barton making significant impacts when joining the battle, Crewe did not panic and kept control of the ball and field position.
Crewe again pressurising the Worcester line lead to a penalty infringement by Worcester for holding on in the tackle and Toby Ward put over a 35 metre penalty to add 3 more points.
The last 3 minutes saw Crewe showing the control needed to win against quality teams and the last 2 weeks with an away win and a victory over a Top 2 team bodes well for the rest of the season.
Man of the Match was centre, Robbo Roberts, for his game changing tackles but it was a difficult decision after so many great performances.
From 1 – 18, every player put in a great shift and set a new bench mark as this team continues to show progression.
A great game from both teams, fantastic support from the crowd and an excellent surface provided by Craig Randles and all the grounds team of Jim Poole, Allan Sproston, Gwyn Evans, Les Briers and new boy Stu Simmonds!
Merril, Woodward, Guy, Alcock, McGregor, Buckley, Collins , Robinson, Hutchings, Cann, Cowap, Roberts, Greatbanks, Gammage, Ward
Subs Hargreaves, Fray, Barton
Next week there is no game as it is a free weekend but the following week is Earlsdon at home KO 2.15pm. To maintain our momentum and for the 2nds, we need your support as it does make a massive difference, so please come down for the home games.
Story ©Andy Brown 2015