GALLERY: Warriors open their account for season
EASTERN COUNTIES 1: Thurston Rangers 8 Woodbridge Warriors 29
WOODBRIDGE, looking for their first win this season, started under pressure from Thurston’s fast chasing pack.
Allen missed a penalty, and play stayed in the visitors’ end until the Warriors started to gain traction.
Marshalled by Bruce at scrum half, they won forward possession for backs, Sanday, Yorke and Biu to run the ball.
Thurston were forced to kick away possession and, although neither side dominated any area of the game, they kept up the majority of the attacks, especially through Scott at centre who had several piercing sprints into the Warriors’ defence.
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Tempers frayed as both side were frustrated until, against the run of play, Woodbridge broke from a scrum and passed quickly through their three-quarters for Bruce to score.
The aerial battle continued and Thurston started to use their signature maul, gaining ten metres a time with Proctor pumping hard. From a ruck, their back row turned ball over well and popped the ball quickly to Mould who scored.
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Woodbridge started the second half on fire and within four minutes, Smith had stopped another Scott charge, Biu had fumbled a try in the goal area and Garnham scored wide on the left for Smith to convert.
The Warriors fought for territory, running harder, defending reliably and hitting rucks and mauls with calculated purpose to end up camping on the Thurston 22 and winning a penalty for Smith to kick three points.
Thurston reacted with a raised work-rate but Garnham led another drive on the left.
Although he was stopped short, Cope drove over to score.
The floodgates stayed open and, with the wind behind them, Woodbridge kicked to good effect, often holding possession on the charge and harvesting counter kicks to good effect.
Stealing the ball from another Thurston maul, Hannon started a move which Bruce developed to get his pack behind Cope who scored again, this time under the posts.
Yorke restarted hard, combining with his fellow backs to feed Biu who wriggled through some weak tackles to score and give Smith his sixth successful kick of seven.
Thurston attacked in the closing minutes but Woodbridge resisted to gain a convincing first win of the season.