Valiant Vale go close to Devizes surprise
A gutsy performance was not enough as Avonvale went down 13-3 at Devizes in Dorset & Wilts 1 North yesterday.
Having conceded 50 points to the Wiltshire side at Bathford earlier in the season, Avonvale expected another tough afternoon but proved resilient throughout and came within a few metres of an upset.
Both sides traded penalties in the opening ten minutes but, although there were opportunities for the home side after that, only one further kick was accurate and Devizes led just 6-3 at the interval.
Vale were delighted with their defensive work and looked the stronger side at the start of the second half, with a now customary charge from second-row Mark Davis being halted just short of the try line. His offload was also not gathered cleanly, allowing Devizes to hack the ball into touch.
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It was the hosts' turn to be frustrated when, following an interception, a long dash for the opposite end was stopped by a magnificent diving tackle from Vale's man of the match, scrum-half Joe Pugh.
Despite the home team's pressure, Vale continued to look for opportunities to get back on terms and an adventurous three-quarter move from deep inside their own 22 almost paid dividends.
However, wing Steve Grant Jr had just one defender too many to beat and the delay allowed Devizes to get enough cover across to scramble the ball into touch again.
With both sides tiring, it was Devizes who finally settled the result late on. Vale held the ball up, despite their hosts having crossed the try line, but the resulting five-metre scrum was pushed close enough for the home number eight to pick up and score.