Worthing RFC captain James Arthur’s weekly column (January 28)

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SATURDAY saw us travel to Shelford in the first of our trio of away games this month.

With confidence high after getting back to winning ways, we went into the game looking to improve on our away record but also knew that we would have to improve on last week’s performance if we were going to get anything from this fixture.

The side this week saw a few changes, Finlay moved back into the second row, joining Sam Pitchford, Mickey started his first game this season as hooker and Matt Miles moved into the back row.

In the backs, Matt came into the centres with Joe moving to full-back. The bench looked strong, too, with Charlie McGowan, Paul Dunckley, Mike Marsh, Sam Hewick and young prop Henry Stevens.

We didn’t start too well and were probably guilty of not getting the journey out of our system. That, combined with some strong direct running from the large Shelford forwards, had us on the back foot and it wasn’t long before they converted the pressure into points.

We hit back minutes later with a try of our own but a combination of our own mistakes and some strong running kept us under pressure.

This was compounded when we lost two players to the sin bin. But, if anything, this period galvanised us and the defence and commitment we showed during this time was fantastic.

We produced our best defensive display for some time, particularly in a five-metre scrum when down to seven men. Unfortunately, Shelford crossed the line again just before half-time, despite our best efforts, to take a 17-10 lead.

The second half was a different story and we came out firing. With Charlie on for Mickey, we pressured Shelford from the off and started to win good, clean ball for the backs and this soon paid off when Briggsy crashed over the line.

Matt was unable to convert from wide out but we were in the ascendancy and it wasn’t long before the pressure told and Shelford were penalised at the breakdown. Matt kicked the points to take us into the lead. Sam Hewick came on and provided a lively spark around the pitch and after more pressure from the forwards and backs, Sam burrowed his way under a defender to score, and Matt kicked the points to deny Shelford a losing bonus point.

So, a tough win on the road and a hard-fought physical encounter. There were lots of positives to take. The defence was good, we took our chances well and built some good phases. We did, however, get two yellow cards and this is something we need to cut out.

Other results saw wins for Richmond, Ealing, Jersey, Hinckley, OAs, Taunton and Lydney.

We travel to Southend on Saturday and will try to gain some revenge for the loss at home earlier in the season. We hope to see as many of you who can make it there.