Anchs faced Vigo on Saturday in conditions made very difficult by Storm Dennis, which produced a low scoring game played mainly between the two 22m lines. It was a game that Anchs had targeted for victory, both to avenge the loss earlier in the season at Darland Avenue and also to keep them clear of the relegation zone.
Anchs were under pressure early on with Vigo winning the majority of possession but Anchs defence was up to the task. In fact, Anchs had the first scoring opportunity, initially with a number of pick and goes on the Vigo line, which Vigo defended well, and then from a penalty shot at goal from about 30m out which went wide, in conditions not conducive to accurate goal kicking.
Without a recognised hooker in the front row and missing Richard Kyle in the lineout, Anchs struggled to win good ball, despite utilising short throws to the lineout, but the ball they did win they kicked for position, a sensible option in the conditions.
With both sides finding it difficult to create scoring opportunities, Vigo managed to take the lead when they moved the ball and their pacey backs, especially their talented centre, engineered a try in the corner, which went unconverted.
The home side found themselves defending their own line as half time approached. However, Anchs struggled to turn possession into scoring opportunities and, coupled with Vigo’s staunch defence, they finally managed to convert a penalty which Brad Ford kicked from in front of the posts, meaning the teams turned around with Vigo holding a slender 5 – 3 lead.
As the conditions worsened, the second half was very much a battle of attrition with more generally accurate kicking from both sides and very few clear scoring opportunities. With the Anchs scrum struggling Vigo extended their lead when they broke blind from a scrum on the Anchs 10m line and the winger fed back inside for a second try which again went unconverted.
Anchs had an opportunity to put Vigo under pressure when they were awarded a penalty in mid-field but the kick to the corner went dead and what was to be Anchs last real scoring opportunity was gone. With time running out Anchs found themselves defending their line which they did successfully but they never really looked line launching an attack from their own half, which meant when time was up they put the ball out of play to claim the bonus point which could prove invaluable at the end of the season.
It was unfortunate that the conditions meant that two sides who are very capable of playing open, exciting rugby were restricted in their approach, but Vigo were deserved winners in a closely fought contest.
Anchs now face a home game against Bromley followed by a trip to Old Dunstonians and will looki to get back to winning ways before a two week break.
By Ian Brenton