Rugby St Andrews
RFU Midlands Senior Vase
Rugby St Andrews 34
Saints’ first competitive outing against neighbouring Southam for six years produced a comfortable five-try victory and passage into the Midlands Quarter Finals of the RFU Senior Vase Competition.
This is a reversal of the outcome of their last meeting when the visitors narrow win knocked Saints out of the same competition in the preliminary round.
This was a thoroughly workmanlike performance against a side that defended resolutely to the final whistle but with Saints pack in dominant form in the set pieces and at the breakdown they had the lion’s share of possession and territory, enabling them to control the game for long periods. Many of the costly errors of the previous week were eradicated and by playing more structured rugby they built more patiently through the phases. There were still a few unforced errors in defence and in attack, when three golden opportunities were squandered but overall this was a much better display, particularly in defence where they snuffed out the visitors attacks with an impenetrable wall of tacklers.
A bright start, quick ball and hands created the overlap for teenage winger Tom Oglethorpe, his first try of what will surely be many more at this level. Southam kept Saints at bay for a further 20 minutes but then leaked 17 points in as many minutes. Ryan Taylor landed a penalty. Will Hedley was put into space and neatly sidestepped the covering defence for his first try. Ryan Taylor converted to bring up his century of points for the season and then improved a try from a rolling maul, credited to Kalum Goodfellow.
The second half followed a similar pattern. Saints pressed and the visitors defended well to frustrate them, helped by some errant passing at key moments. They could do nothing to prevent the next score when Prop David Hunt, Saints Man of the Match, popped up outside his winger to scurry over for the try. A second Will Hedley try, converted by Taylor completed the scoring.
Sterner battles lie ahead in this competition. There will be no easy games at quarter final stage. Given that no away side managed a win in this round, it is clear that a home draw is highly desirable so Saints will be hoping for good fortune in that respect.
This week Saints are back in league action when they host Boys Brigade Old Boys, who were relegated last season. The last home encounter with them resulted in a big win but the Northampton side gained revenge in a somewhat acrimonious match that secured their promotion. They have recently shown an improvement in form and now lie just one place below Saints in the table.