Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Vultures swoop to retain Jersey Super 10s vets title

Vultures swoop to retain Jersey Super 10s vets title

THE Henley Vultures retained the Jersey Super 10s title during their annual trip to the Channel Islands last weekend.

Twelve veteran teams (over 35) assembled from across the British Isles and France and were split into three groups of four with the Vultures matched up against Les Coquillarts, Guernsey and new opponents the Rammit Barbarians.

The Vultures made fairly short work of the three group games on Saturday, by an aggregate score of 108-14. Skipper Tom Allen orchestrated majestically from fly-half and up front birthday boy Tim Simmonds put in a typically rumbustious and physical performance throughout. These results saw the Vultures acquire top seed status for the Sunday.

Hosts Jersey were the opponents in the quarter finals where they took a surprise lead before the explosive Matt Payne limped off with a hamstring tear. Mark Venner, the most senior member of the playing party, stepped up for a pair of unlikely tries which sparked a Vultures rampage to win 49-7.

A youthful looking Guys Hospital Penguins side — 2017 winners — were the opposition in the semi-final. The vultures again started slowly as the Penguins again took an early lead, but a polished all-round team performance led by the imperious front row of Jim Hadfield, Rowan Fuller and Gareth Jones saw off a spirited Penguins side 33-19. In the final the Vultures faced the RAF in what had been expected a repeat of the closely fought final in 2018 between the two sides.

A consistent starting line up throughout the tournament gave the Vultures an air of solidity going into the final. The front row of Hadfield, Fuller and Jones was well supported by the engine room of Glossop and Simmonds. The half back pedigree of Caldwell and skipper Allen had looked classy all tournament and the outside backs of Day, Dudding and Spriggs had combined effectively throughout.

The final was a high class and physical encounter from the start. A piece of skill from the RAF fly-half saw them open the scoring by chipping the sweeping Caldwell.

The response from the Vultures was immediate as the power and speed of Day saw him over the line after energy sapping phases had left a hole big enough to exploit.

Just before half time the ever-dependable Nick Dudding crossed the whitewash after a length of the field team effort following scrambling defence from Caldwell in his own 22.

Resolute defence at the beginning of the second half eventually saw Dudding released into space on his own try line. A scamper up the right wing followed by a perfectly placed kick chase resulted in pressure on the RAF try line.

Dudding’s heroics had taken their toll and he was replaced by Christian Woodhouse, who was soon into the action after good work by Allen and Day put Will Spriggs through a hole, feeding Woodhouse to dive over the whitewash.

The bench was emptied with all players in the squad seeing time on the pitch in the final. A fourth try by Glossop added a richly deserved sheen to the final score line 28-7.

The Vultures had defended their title with an immense team performance, the like of which the experienced management team had rarely seen.

Tour leader David O’Leary lifted the trophy that will reside for another year at Dry Leas.

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