Rugby round-up: March Bears limp to defeat while promotion-chasing Wisbech thrash Ely

MARCH Bears were given a brutal welcome to the Greene King Super Premiere Merit League on Saturday as they were overpowered by Cambridge Exiles.

The Bears, who successfully appealed for promotion after impressing last season, were thrashed 39-0 in their first fixture in their new league.

March were forced to play in the shirts of their Fenland rivals Thorney due to a mix-up with their new kit and they were quickly overpowered at the Elm Road Sports Field.

A bright start saw Paul Galloway and Mark Arnold combine to ask questions of the Exiles defence - but the Bears were soon on the back foot.

The visitors scored two break-away tries and began to take control with their heavy pack causing problems for James Knight and Stacey Mould in the March front row.

A stubborn defensive display kept the score respectable but the Exiles’ speedy back line sealed their win with a flurry of points.

March face Biggleswade II on Saturday.

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• PROMOTION-CHASING Wisbech thumped Ely 24-3 to announce themselves as serious contenders for the league title with back-to-back victories.

The Harecroft Road outfit, who look sure to be leading players in the Greene King IPA Eastern Counties Division 1, put in an efficient display away from home.

Iwan Jones, Robert Woollard, Ali Comben and Phil Martell were all handed starts as injuries and unavailability reduced Wisbech’s options.

Winger James Napier continued his impressive form by crashing over in the 20th minute to open the scoring for Wisbech.

Andy Heighton capitalised on a good break from Jon Turner to add a second with Shane Vickers - captain in the absence of the injured Tom Long - converting.

Phil Martell scored a try either side of half time and Mark Laws added a conversion to seal a good performance and secure another bonus point.

Team manager Cliff Humphreys said: “It was a good performance, although after the game the players felt like they’d only played in third gear.

“It is a long season and if we can play this type of rugby on the road we will not be too far away from promotion by the end of it.”

Meanwhile, a spirited performance from Wisbech II could not prevent them suffering a narrow 14-7 defeat to Beccles in a feisty game at Harecroft Road.

Wisbech host Broadland & Great Yarmouth on Saturday while the second team face Medics.

• March Bears Legends and players from Thorney joined forces to beat Shelford V 41-38 in a thrilling friendly on Saturday. The Legends host Newmarket III in a friendly on Saturday. (3pm kick-off)