An incredible team performance from Sherborne Rugby Club ended Wells’ 100 per cent record and stopped the Somerset side claiming the Southern Counties South title.
Ollie Mottram held his nerve to fire home a difficult penalty kick for the hosts in the closing stages to snatch a 13-11 victory.
Wells struggled against a rampant Sherborne pack, who dominated almost every scrummage and turned over possession on several occasions at the break down.
Sherborne could and probably should have been comfortably ahead at half time. The hosts made a bright start, but some impressive line breaks were halted by errors.
Mottram opened the scoring with his first penalty kick, before Wells were temporarily reduced to 14 men when Rob Wiseman was sent to the sin bin. Sherborne almost took advantage immediately when Mottram broke through the stern Wells defence, but spilt the ball close to the try line.
Some good pressure from the hosts saw a clearance from Wells charged down. Sherborne brilliantly turned over possession and James Flynn dived over the line to give the home side a healthy lead.
The hosts were on top but gifted Wells a way back into the game. A sliced clearance against a powerful wind handed possession back to the Somerset side - who worked the ball wide, with Dave Wheatley showing good power and speed to score in the corner to close the gap to five points.
Sherborne conceded a needless penalty in a central position as Aaron Cook slotted home the kick. At the other end, the hosts almost scored another try – but the ball was again spilled close to the line.
Wells were awarded another penalty on the half way line, but against a strong wind it dropped short. However, Sherborne conceded another penalty almost immediately in a closer position. Cook made no mistake this time to give Wells a one-point lead at half time.
The Somerset visitors made a strong start to the second half and despite Sherborne being temporarily reduced to 14 men, Wells couldn’t breach the home side’s defence. Alex Knight did manage to break through the Sherborne defence but his pass could only find Sherborne’s Jonny Hole – as the Dorset side cleared their lines.
Sherborne were given no favours from referee Stewart Kilby, awarding almost every 50/50 decision against the hosts. The home side conceded penalty after penalty, with Wells taking quick tap kicks - but couldn’t force a way through Sherborne’s strong defence.
A quick break down the right flank looked like finally opening up the Sherborne defence but the play was called back for a narrow forward pass. The hosts had more of the ball in the final 20 minutes and a great kick by Mottram wasn’t dealt with by Wells winger Stefan Davies. Hole kick the ball along the ground towards the try line and it took a recovering Wells player to slam the ball into touch to stop Sherborne going ahead.
A textbook catch and drive from the hosts set up a strong push towards the try line with a rolling maul. However, referee Kilby penalised the attacking side despite the drive gaining momentum. However, some more erratic refereeing saw a penalty awarded in favour of the hosts – with an opportunity to take the lead with a difficult penalty kick.
Mottram remained calm and despite a strong cross wind, slotted home the kick to give Sherborne the lead with little over five minutes remaining.
Wells were immediately on the attack, and were awarded a penalty in a central position. Bizarrely, the visitors elected to run possession instead of taking a penalty kick. Sherborne were able to turn over possession and patiently see out the game to secure victory.
The result was richly deserved by the home side, who have only lost once at Gainsborough Park this season – to second-placed Trowbridge.
Wells are still certain to take the league title, but will need to bulk up their pack ahead of a tough campaign at a higher level next season.