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avonvale match reports
brought to you by "yOur man on the ground..."
chris hobbs

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TROWBRIDGE 2NDS 17 - avonvale 68
SAT 17th March

Avonvale buoyed by their superb away win at Dorchester last week, travelled to Trowbridge to play their 2nd XV.

Vale had the worst possible start when Trowbridge kicked off and a mix up in the Vale defence resulted in Trowbridge taking a 7.0 lead in the first 30 seconds.

This galvanised Vale into realising that they would have to work hard for a victory. Vale then went on to play their best game so far this season working hard for one another, their support play was exemplary and everyone played their part .

Vale bounced back with a converted try by full back Ben Hansford-Holt, quickly followed by tries from centres Zak Tobin and Scott Taylor, winger Ollie Phillips and 2nd row Marcus Larbelestier, all converted by No.8 Joe Vowles to lead 35.7 at half time.

In the second half Vale were just as ruthless with three  more tries coming from wing Jack Burcombe twice and scrum half Callum Neate again all converted by Vowles.

Trowbridge managed a try before Vale scored two more tries from flanker Harry Clark and a second from Tobin with Neate converting one before Trowbridge scored a late try to leave the score 68.17 to the Vale.

Vale travel to Corsham next week to play their Combination cup tie

Dorchester 17 - avonvale 21
SAT 11th March

Avonvale travelled to Dorchester with the bare fifteen players and gave an outstanding performance. Vale welcomed back winger Jake Penrose and full back Dan Carter for their first games in months. Dorchester were a big side all round but Vale muscled up to them with 2nd row Charlie Fallows in particular having a superb game.

Vale stole into the lead when scrum half Ben Hansford-Holt was able to wriggle his way through three or four tackles to score under the posts.

Fly half Alex Pugh, who was playing his last game before going travelling slotted the conversion. Five minutes later Pugh himself jogged over and added the extras. 

Dorchester battled hard but the Vale defence was superb and they held out until just before half time when a questionable decision gave Dorchester a try and conversion. 

Vale pinched another try when Hansford-Holt spotted a huge hole in the Dorchester defence and was able to race away to the line, Pugh adding the conversion.

Then it became a game of nip and tuck to see if Vale could hang on to their lead. Dorchester used their big forwards well and scored out wide from a line out but crucially missed the conversion.

With Vale tiring, Dorchester grabbed another catch and drive try but again missed the conversion. Vale were able to see out the last five minutes to bring them a first ever win against Dorchester which also ensured their survival in Southern Counties.

Vale are away to Trowbridge second XV next Saturday

avonvale 27 - yeovil 32
SAT 25th february

Avonvale welcomed Yeovil to the Crown Field last Saturday.

Vale could have won, should have won,  but ultimately  lost to a debatable try in a frantic last five minutes.

Vale, beseiged with injuries and having to field players out of position, swept into an eight nil lead through a penalty by stand in fly half Will Darvill and a first ever try for the club by Jason James. Yeovil, with a much bigger set of forwards, took the game to Vale and secured an unconverted try. Darvill was intent on trying to run everything from anywhere and Vale broke out of their 22 setting centre Jack Burcombe away on a 70 meter dash for the line. Darvill added the extras to give Vale a 15.5 lead at half time.

Yeovil upped their game in the second half stuffing the ball up their jumpers and used their bigger forwards to great effect.

Vale could not get any ball and Yeovil went on to score four tries and  one conversion with no reply from Vale to lead 27.15. However the game was about to take a massive twist.

Vale finally secured some ball from a lineout and a speculative kick forward from centre Zak Tobin saw the ball bobbling around the Yeovil tryline. Yeovil failed to deal with it and Tobin who had chased the kick was first to pounce and bring Vale back to within one score.

Yeovil then kicked off deep into the Vale 22 and after a quick ruck Darvill threw a pass in front of his own posts to Burcombe who set off again in space, reaching the half way line Burcombe kicked ahead and the Yeovil defence again failed to deal with it and Burcombe snapped up the ball to score near the posts, Darvill added the conversion to bring the game level at 27 each.

There was however another twist in the tail as Vale failed to deal with the kick off and gave Yeovil a 5 metre lineout. With the Yeovil forwards driving for the line they seemed to ground the ball 6 inches short. The referee awarded the try to the dismay of the Vale players and then blew the final whistle after the missed conversion to give Yeovil victory by 32.27. 

Vale did secure two valuable losing bonus points in their fight for survival and remain 6 points in front of Blandford in their relegation battle.

Vale travel to Wimbourne next Saturday

avonvale 14 - Walcot 40
SAT 18th february

Avonvale played what was arguably their worst half of rugby this season when they hosted local rivals Walcot on Saturday.

Everything Vale tried went wrong with dropped passes, knock on's, poor kicking, sloppy tackling  and wrong decision making.

Walot were playing with the strong wind in the first half and their ruthless execution secured them five tries, four of which were converted to give them an unassailable lead of 33. 0 at half time.

Vale's performance was not helped when they received a red card halfway through the half.

Vale however did sort themselves out and made a game of it in the second half.

Walcot however defended admirably and it took Vale 25 minutes of the half to score when winger Jack Burcombe scored out wide with the conversion added from the touchline by centre Joe Russell. Walcot took advantage of some poor tackling to score under the posts but Vale had the final say when Russell fed the ball to Burcombe inside their own 22 and Burcombe scorched away beating several defenders on his way to touch down under the posts,

Russell added the extra's to bring some credibility to the score line.

The final score score was 40.14 to Walcot.

Vale entertain Yeovil at home next Saturday

combe down  21 - avonvale 5
SAT 4th february

With both sides shorn of regular players it was Combe Down who came away with a 21.5 victory at Hollies Corner against Avonvale.

Vale were on top in the early exchanges and took a 5.0 lead when 2nd row Marcus Larbalestier crashed over from a lineout. The game turned Combe Down's way when Vale lost prop  Alex Fitzsimmons with a hand injury.

Vale had been holding their own in the scrum up to then but the loss of Fitzsimmons meant Vale had to move players around and Down took advantage.

Down started to dominate the scrum and put them on the front foot.

They scored two converted tries to lead 14.5 at half time and just after the restart they scored a dubious try to lead 21.5. Try as they might Vale could not pierce the Down defence and the game ended with victory to Down to keep their long undeafeated run against Vale going.

Vale's biggest concern is their long injury list ahead of next week's long journey to Swanage  

 Royal wootton bassett 2nd xv 31 - avonvale 25
SAT 28th january

Vale's injury curse struck again on Saturday as they lost hooker Charles Williams and flanker Will Clark within the first ten minutes of their game against Royal Wootton Bassett 2nd XV.

Having to play with 14 men galvanized Vale but it was RWB who took the lead with a converted try. Vale hit back with a great solo try by scrum half Callum Neate which was converted by fly half Alex Pugh .RWB regained the lead just before half time with another converted try.

At the start of the second half Vale converted two penalties to bring them within one point but then fell apart a little as RWB scored a penalty and two converted tries for a lead of 31.-13.

Vale however do not know how to lie down and with great spirit and determination they came back  to score an unconverted try by centre Joe Russell and a crash over try by 2nd row Charlie Fallows which was crucially converted by Russell to give them a deserved losing bonus point.

Coach Dave George said. "We are really down to bare bones and just getting 15 players fit and available at the moment is a great achievement. However this squad of players show great determination and spirit and somehow we will battle through it."

Vale are away at local rivals Combe Down next Saturday

 North Dorset 26 - avonvale 24
SAT 21st january

Avonvale travelled to North Dorset and played what was one of a handful of games played last Saturday.

Vale were always going to struggle against a massive Dorset pack and their cause was not helped when they lost No.8 Joe Vowles in the first minute and influential hooker John Keepen 15 minutes later.

Will Clark came on to replace Vowles and flanker Hayden Rogers moved up to hooker with Seb Wade coming on for his first game for the Vale in a few years.

Vale were up against it and Dorset used their forwards to great effect and opened up a 19.0 lead through three tries from lineout catch and drives with two conversions being added.

Vale had a glint of hope just before half time when flanker Will Darvil worked his way through three tackles and scored with fly half Alex Pugh converting.

Within five minutes of the second half Dorset scored another try and a hammering seemed on the cards for Vale. However after losing winger Morgan Williams and employing Wade as a make shift winger Vale started moving the ball around and after a superbly placed kick by Pugh winger Jack Burcombe pounced to gather the kick and score wide out. The conversion was missed.

Vale attacked relentlessly and after a barn-storming run by captain and second row Marcus Larbelestier the ball was recycled and the Vale forwards hammered into their opposition. The ball however popped loose but quick fire scrum half Ben Hansford-Holt gathered the loose ball and scored near the posts. The try was converted by Pugh.

Vale were now within seven points and kept believing they could turn the game around and sticking to their new game plan. Pugh chipped ahead and Wade beat the covering defence to score.

Unfortunately for Vale the conversion from wide out was missed and two minutes later the whistle went and Dorset had held on to win 26.24.

Vale however can hold their heads high after what could have turned into a big loss they changed their game plan around and secured two points. 

 avonvale 29 - Frome 2nds 12
SAT 14th january

Avonvale, playing  their first game for six weeks at home to Frome 2nds, showed lots of signs of rustiness. 

With the Crown Field under water the game was played on the top pitch, which suited Frome as they arrived with a massive pack shunting Vale around at ease.

Vale, however, knuckled down to their task and with the wind against them they passed the ball well and fly half Alex Pugh scored under the posts. Centre Joe Russell added the conversion.

Five minutes later, Pugh grabbed his second try out near the corner flag and just before half time full back Josh Meagor got on the score sheet to give Vale a 17.0 half time lead.

With the wind at their backs, Vale expected to rack up a big score. After another good handling move hooker John Keepen scored out wide.

Vale kept the pressure up and flanker Hayden Rogers crashed over with Russell adding the extras.

Vale then went to sleep and allowed Frome, who never gave up all day, to score two tries which they thoroughly deserved.

Vale held on and  when the final whistle went they ran out 29.12 winners

 avonvale 25 - Blandford 8
SAT 3rd december

Blandford visited the Crown field this weekend and provided much tougher opposition  than perhaps Avonvale had anticipated.

In a ragged stop start game Vale really struggled  to find any rhythm and were put under lots of pressure by a resilient Blandford side.

From the first scrum where Blandford shoved Vale off their own ball, Vale knew they were in for a tough afternoon and had to subsequently defend their try line for the first ten minutes with only a try saving tackle from centre Sam Beech stopping Blandford from scoring.

Vale finally got their act together and after some some solid work from their forwards No. 8 George Hobbs crashed over from 5 metres out taking four defenders with him.

Vale had their tails up a little now and after what seemed a kick to nothing from centre Scott Taylor the ball bounced behind the Blandford goal line and young Vale scrum half Callum Neate dived on it to secure the score.

Full back Joe Vowles added a penalty soon after before Blandford converted a penalty right on the stroke of half time and the first half ended 13.3 to Vale.

The second half started much the same as the first as Vale defended their line before finally getting into the Blandford half. From a lineout on the Blandford 22 the ball went to centre Taylor who crashed through some very weak tackling to score under the posts. Vowles added the extras.

Blandford hit back with an unconverted try of their own before Vale sealed the game with a great move down the blindside from a scrum and Neate was on the end of some great inter play to score out wide to leave the final score 25.8 to Vale. 

Vale spokesman Gareth Neate commented.

"Our biggest problem today was we thought we only had to turn up to win  but we toughed it out against some rugged opposition and secured the victory."

Vale make the short journey to Combe Down next week and may well face a stern test.

Do come along and support the boys.

 avonvale 12 - Wimborne 27
SAT 26th november

Avonvale gave a good account of themselves against the league leaders Wimborne last Saturday. Wimborne arrived at the Crown Field with a massive pack and quickly asserted authority earning a couple of scrum penalties which they kicked to the corner. From the lineout the Wimborne scrum half dummied his way through some poor tackling to score near the posts. The try was converted and the writing was on the wall for the Vale.

A few months ago Vale would have collapsed by this set back but they are made of sterner stuff now and they roared back at Wimborne and after a cross kick was gathered by young winger Ollie Phillips he dotted down over the line.

Ten minutes later Wimborne were attacking in the Vale 22 but a dropped pass was gathered up by Phillips who raced the length of the field to score. The extras were added by full back Josh Meagor.

Wimborne then reasserted authority to score two tries before half time to lead 17.12.

Again the spectators thought it could be a heavy defeat, but Vale attacked relentlessly although they could not manage a score.

Wimborne showed why they are top of the league by scoring two tries late on, ending the game with them 27.12 winners.

Vale were certainly not upstaged by their more illustrious opponents and if they carry the spirit and determination into each game they will be competitive in this league.

Vale are home to Blandford next Saturday

 Walcot 26 - avonvale 5
SAT 12th november

Avonvale travelled the few miles from Bathford to Lansdown to take on local rivals and 2nd in the league Walcot Old Boys.

The league positions showed in the early exchanges with Walcot dominating the scrums for the first twenty minutes and their silky backs  moving the ball well. 

Walcot scored two tries to lead 14.0 but Vale showed their fighting spirit and scored a try at the end of the first half when 2nd row Charlie Fallows crashed over.


In the second half it was nip and tuck but Walcot's experience at the higher level showed as they scored two more tries. Vale could not be faulted for their grit and determination and they made a real game of it but just could not cross the whitewash.

Walcot ran out 26.5 victors but certainly knew they had been in a game.

Vale have a week off next week before another daunting game awaits them when league leaders Wimbourne visit the Crown Field. Coach


Vale coach Dave George commented:

"We gave a good account of ourselves today and we are certainly looking forward to the Wimbourne game where we may just cause a shock or two."

 Avonvale 39 - Swanage & wareham 33
SAT 5th november

Swanage travelled to Bathford possibly expecting to come away with another victory over Avonvale; however,  in what was a cracking game of rugby with lots of highs and lows, rugby was the ultimate winner.

Vale had a player sin binned after two minutes and Swanage took advantage. With the wind at their backs they missed a penalty but came back at Vale scoring a cracking try from a superb off load, the conversion was added to give them a 7 point lead.

Vale then took over. From a five metre line out prop Archie Dowman was driven over the line with the conversion from fly half Alex Pugh bringing the game all square.

Two minutes later Vale moved the ball wide and winger Jack Burcombe scored out wide. Scrum half Will Lennox  was next to score for Vale when he skipped through some poor tackles to touch down under the post, Pugh adding the extras. With their forwards dominant No. 8 Charlie Fallows was on the end of a superb piece of play to earn the bonus point try  when Vale attacked  from their own 22. This gave Vale a 22. 7 lead at half time. 

If the first half belonged to Vale, the second half was mostly Swanage. First they scored a try out wide before 2nd row Harry Clark picked up a loose ball for Vale and ran in without a finger being laid on him. Swanage then converted a try to bring the scores to 29.19.

Vale were awarded a penalty under the posts which Pugh converted but back came Swanage with another converted try to leave themselves six points behind.

Vale got their act together and after some great linking work between backs and forwards Man of the Match Vale centre  Sam Beech dived under the posts with Pugh again adding the vital conversion to give themselves some breathing space leading 39.26.

Swanage gained themselves a losing bonus point with the last play of the game with a converted try under the posts to leave the score 39-33 to Vale.


Vale travel to local rivals Walcot next Saturday

 Royal Wootton bassett 31 - Avonvale 5
SAT 29th october

Vale were hoping to go the whole of October unbeaten but came unstuck against a very good Royal Wootton Bassett  2nd XV.

Vale's progression was hindered with a few unavailabilities, but they still should have done better than they did..

It started to unfold for Vale as they lost influential fly half Joe Vowles after five minutes and centre Joe Russell after twenty minutes due to injury. 

Vale's kicking out of hand was poor and too many times touch was missed and the speedy Bassett backs ran it back at them gaining ground every time.

Bassett scored three tries all converted and a penalty to lead 24. 0 at half time.

Vale came back into the game in the second half but poor decision making and more missed touches let them down.

Basset scored another try and conversion before Vale had the last say with a try by captain Marcus Larbelestier to leave them on the end of a 31.5 defeat.


Vale coach Dave George commented:

"We had a few players called in at the last moment who really should not have played but they did to help us out.

We needed cool heads and strong leadership today but we failed on both counts. We will go back to training and try to put the bad things right.

We are still learning at this level and we will concentrate on doing the basics right.

This is a great bunch of players whose  commitment and effort cannot be questioned and so long as they stay focused we will get there."

 Avonvale 18 - North Dorset 12
SAT 22nd october

Avonvale welcomed North Dorset to the Crown Field for the first ever league fixture between the two teams.

Vale kicked off and did not touch the ball for the first ten minutes as Dorset mounted attack after attack and eventually crashed over the line to give them a five point lead.

Vale replied with a cheeky try by scrum half Callum Neate instigated by centre Joe Russell. Both tries were unconverted.

Vale then took the lead when a speculative kick was chased by wing Jack Burcombe who just beat the Dorset full back to the ball. He hacked on and won the race to touch the ball down near the posts.

Russell adding the conversion.

Vale took the 12.5 lead into half time but failed to stop the Dorset rolling maul straight after the re start and Dorset levelled the score.

Vale then upped their game and converted two penalties from Russell. 

Vale ran out winners by 18.12 in the end but had to do their fair share of defending to hang on to the hard fought victory  

  Frome 2nd XV 10 - Avonvale 34
SAT 15th october

Avonvale travelled to Frome 2nd XV hoping for a win but may feel that they had to work a lot harder than they had imagined they would.

Frome had first use of a strong wind and were first on the score board with a well struck penalty.

Vale worked hard to create an opening for winger Morgan Williams to dive over in the corner to take the lead.

Frome then took advantage of some awful tackling in the Vale defence to score under the posts adding the conversion to lead 10.5.

Vale applied loads of pressure and eventually No. 8 Scott Taylor crashed over with centre Joe Russell adding the extras.

With the wind at their backs Vale continued to put Frome under pressure and added a couple of quick tries through prop Hayden Rogers and scrum half Ben Hansford Holt. Russell converting one of the tries. 


Frome pressed hard but the Vale defence held and after clearing their lines Vale had a lineout five metres out and flanker Charlie Fallows crashed over.

Vale rounded off a good afternoon when Russell charged down a kick to dot down and secure a 34.10 victory.

Vale welcome North Dorset to the Crown Field next Saturday

  Avonvale 34 - Trowbridge 2nds 17
SAT 1st october

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Avonvale secured their first victory of the season with a 34-17 victory against a stronger than expected Trowbridge second XV.

It was Trowbridge who came out of the blocks the fastest as they raced into a 10.0 lead through a converted try and a penalty. Vale got back into the game when winger Elliott Crabbe won the race to touch the ball down under the posts. Unfortunately the conversion was missed.

Another try was to soon follow as quick thinking by the Vale fly half took him around the side of the ruck to score under the posts, the conversion was successful to give Vale a 12.10 lead at half time. Vale relaxed too much at the start of the second half and let Trowbridge in to score another converted try; however, Vale attacked again and after some great forward play hooker Jon Keepen ran over to score. Centre Joe Russell converting.

With Trowbridge visibly tiring Vale took advantage, running the ball wide and after a string of phases full back Jake Penrose was on the end of a breathtaking move to score out wide, Russell again converting.

Vale then converted a penalty through Russell which took them two scores clear.

With the last play No. 8 Scott Taylor broke through on the half way line and scored Vale's fifth try and with the added conversion Vale were worthy of their 34.17 victory.

  Avonvale 7 - Combe down 36
SAT 17th september

Avonvale belied their lowly league position by taking the game to potential league favourites Combe Down and should have been three tries up by half time.

Unfortunately Vale's lack of experience showed and they struggled to turn position and territory into points.

Vale were all over the Down for the first 30 minutes but could not get over the whitewash. Down then got into the Vale 22 and scored a try which was unconverted.

Vale came back at the Down after a bullocking run from captain Marcus Larbelestier who ran through around six defenders dragging them over the line.

Full back Josh Meagor converted to give Vale a 7.5 lead at half time.

Vale were brimming with confidence but a lack of execution let them down and they gave the ball away cheaply in the second half.

Combe  Down brought on their experienced bench and their fitness told as they went on to score a further five tries in the second half to win the game 36 points to 7.

Vale had them rattled for 40 minutes but must learn to keep going for the whole game.

  Blandford 27 - Avonvale 12
SAT 10th september

Avonvale travelled to Blandford looking for their first victory but came unstuck against a very big side and a better performance on the day..

With a whole backline out injured or unavailable, Vale started brightly when after ten minutes flanker Will Darvil sent a miss pass out to wing Morgan Williams to shoot over in the corner with prop Hayden Rogers converting. 


Blandford then upped their game and for the next 50 minutes Vale were defending desperately. Blandford converted a try and a penalty to lead 10.7 at half time and then scored another converted try and a penalty to lead 20.7. 


Vale did bounce back late on and after a great forward drive, the ball came back to fly half Alex Pugh who put in a pinpoint kick to the corner for wing Elliott Crabbe to touch down, the vital conversion was missed from wide out. Blandford took the game away from Vale with another converted try to end up winners by 27.12.


Coach Dave George commented:

"We are having a lot of bad luck with injuries with around 10 players not available, but we will continue to battle on and hope the victories will come"

 avonvale 7 - dorchester 17 
SAT 3rd september

Avonvale welcomed Dorchester to The Crown Field for the first game of the new season and despite their lengthy injury list they gave a good account of themselves against the team that had inflicted their two biggest losses last season.

Vale welcomed back George Hobbs for his first game in nearly three years and he returned to his original position of loose head prop linking back up with his old colts hooker John Keepen who was also back from an injury sustained last January. Forty-two year old Matt Elsinor started at tight head and they gave Vale a solid foundation. With 6 backs missing, it was never going to be much of a running game for Vale but they added to an entertaining  afternoon with some strong carries from 18 year old debutant Ollie Phillips.

The game remained scoreless until just before half time when the ball trickled over the Vale line and they were slow to react to it and the Dorchester centre dived on it under the posts to give them an easily converted try.

The game remained nip and tuck in the second half with most of the play in between the two 22 metre lines. Vale tried to run out of defence but the ball was intercepted to give Dorchester a 14.0 lead  with ten minutes to go

 Vale came back strongly and secured a try through Hobbs with fly half Alex Pugh adding the extras. Dorchester were then awarded a penalty under the Vale posts which took them ten points clear and Vale were denied a losing bonus point when the referee adjudged that 2nd row and club captain,  Marcus Larbalestier, was held up over the line.

Coach Dave George commented:

It was a disappointing result at the end of the day but Dorchester put 50 and 40 points on us last season so we are improving. We will get better as some of our injured players start to to return but great credit to the players for sticking with it especially as a lot were playing out of position

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