First International Fixture of the Season
Cowbridge and Upton visit Blind Lane
Nice day for a game of rugby, early rain softened the pitch, old friends from Upton enroute and new friends from Cowbridge arriving in a bus 5 ft wider than the access to the club. A proper international fixture this, WRU and RFU approvals in place, Mrs-Mullen-Event-Catering in the tented village and Geraint making his referee debut in brand new boots.
BBQ meat sponsored by Gloucester Sausage and Geraint’s legs sponsored by Daz. Phil Stone promised to come down for a pint and then didn’t bother. Didn’t even phone. Typical.
Evesham v Cowbridge
Cowbridge arrived after a close game v Stow the day before, nicked it by a point and looked good value for doing the same to Evesham, a few units warming up in green, the blond lad with the ponytail looked like he had driven the bus.
Usually I carefully write down the startling line up, by position and shirt number knowing how you all study it (who am I kidding, no one has ever read this far), but I didn’t this week, perhaps the excitement of an inbound tour or perhaps in the hope that someone else will take over writing this gibberish. Bit of both probably. The thing I did notice was Ryan in the centres covering for Tommy with the dinged up wing, but he was there in the crowd supporting the lads – top drawer.
And we are off, early pressure from Eves’ in the Cowbridge half, nice hands in the backs and forwards looking at least half awake now which is a triumph after the shambles of a warm up. Break by Will Tracey, to Jamie, to Olly Wych and over in the left corner. Jamie converted.
More Eves’ pressure saw Wych over again under the posts from an offload from Jamie who then converted.
Ryan brought his forwards defence to the backs and was stopping every advance that came near him, BTM was leading the defence in the forwards and Rocco was also putting in a shift at 15 and stopped a break by the Cowbridge winger to close the half.
Second half built on the first, Cowbridge industrious but Eves’ defence limited the opportunities to play. Jamie put a kick over the top (he does that, we don’t ask him to, he just does), gathered by Rhino and back to Jamie and over, conversion denied by the post after the kicking tee was abandoned for a drop kick attempt.
Lots of good rugby on show from both sides, Evesham just that bit fresher having not played the day before, Smiffy sealed it with a try off a JSD break on the RHS, conversion missed but not by much and it didn’t swing the game. Cowbridge were to play Upton next but looked a little weary, one suspects a late night on tour, so Evesham lined up Upton and see what happens from there.
Evesham v Upton
Upton in pink (when did that happen ?). Interesting contest this, traditionally a close fixture, momentum slightly with Evesham towards the end of last season but good numbers back at Upton so who knows.
First score by Crunchy off a Wych/Jamie loop, conversion missed. Upton winger on a charge down their right hand side, through for a try but intercepted into touch by Bretty who has chosen this half to try running around a bit.
Sustained pressure in the Upton half saw JSD over for a try, converted by Jamie. Our new ref had a bit of a test on his hands, spicing up a bit amongst the big-rigs as the forwards were getting to know each other with and without the ball, looked pretty even to me but Ger was having non of it, marched Evesham back a couple of times – Bretty for ‘over enthusiasm’ at the ruck and someone in Maroon and Blue for ‘advising the ref’. Rhino, his own son, probably.
Half Time. Oranges.
Second half saw Bretty under the sticks, fed by Jamie which Jamie then converted. Upton on another charge up their right, Rocco put in a covering tackle that saw their winger finish up in row Z of the crowd. Lots of attack by Upton, Evesham line held and the game capped by Wych over after Evesham secure the scrum, conversion missed.
Marrick was thrilled with the performance from every player, always nice to spot some training ground work on match day. I know he isn't from this country and he was so chilled out on Sunday, he couldn't have made a nun blush if he tried, I have revised my original guess...I don't think he is Irish, I think he could be Jamaican.
Cowbridge by now revived by the fine English air, or the frying onions, and on to face Upton. A close game by 2 very capable sides, nothing in it from what I saw, Ger thought it finished a draw, Cowbridge thought Upton were one up, either way the BBQ was ready and bar open so no one made a big thing of it.
A wonderful mornings rugby and a real team effort on and off the field to make it all work.
Man of the Match – Rocco for selfless endeavour in a new position at Full Back
Shell Suit of Shame – Jamie for forgetting his gumshield, losing his bag, not bringing his kicking tee and avoiding the entire warm-up like a headless chicken trying to round everything up. Gumshield was delivered on a pushbike by dad who had flies stuck to his teeth - he had clearly knocked that mountain bike into 12th to recover some time.
The Thank You’s
Cowbridge and Upton – thank you both for coming along and playing some lovely rugby. We look forward to seeing you at yours in the spring Cowbridge. Todd from Upton said it best – ‘Rugby was the winner today’.
Mrs Mullen and all her volunteers and contributors – thank you for feeding us all, players, parents, guests and half the first team still kicking about from last night
Gloucester Sausage – thanks Stu for feeding the carnivores
Geraint – excellent full debut as ref, retained control throughout, shirt was a marked improvement on the 80s throwback at Bredon too. Bit of a tan on the old pins Ger to stop the paramedics following you around and the job is yours
Evesham Coaches – thanks for all that hard work and patience in preseason, it is really starting to pay off
Next Sunday we are off to Hereford. They make cider, what could go wrong.