This very good young Rotherham side will put a lot of points past many teams in Yorkshire 3
I've been slow writing up this match report. It's not that we played badly, we didn't. It's not the fact that my usual deadline (Tuesday lunchtime so that Bill Marshall has time to make a report sensible for the T&A) is rendered meaningless by the T&A making Bill redundant after more than thirty years of reporting on community sports. The loss of community sports reporter from a local paper is sad. Sport, local sport in particular, can lift us up, can give us a sense of identity.
No, I am writing with a heavy heart. I've been unable to write anything meaningful since news of the death of club stalwart, Martin Peel. Martin died on Monday 1st October. It was some comfort to know that Martin had held on long enough for Tom Peel to return to the UK. Comforting too to know that the end was peaceful and Martin was surrounded by his family. Many know that Martin was kind, but there are two things you also need to know about Martin. 1. He was incredibly selfless and would have walked over broken glass for his family and his club. I remember him telling me about his relentless and progressive disease, but keeping the inevitability of decline from his children so that they would take their opportunities without reference to Martin's troubles. 2. He was brave and determined. Rather than meekly surrender to progressive bone marrow failure Martin opted to travel the intense, difficult and risky route of a bone marrow transplant.
These characteristics - bravery, keeping going in difficult circumstances and going the extra mile for your club and team mates were characteristics that Baildon displayed on Saturday. Had Martin been well enough to have been at the match, he would have been proud and there is no better accolade than that.
That's all I want to write this week.
My notes say something about a Josh Strauss turnover. Good exits into difficult head wind by Ollie Waddington and Nick Lister.
The Rotherham scrum was dominant and the first try came after a few phases. No poor defence. (0-7)
Baildon had a difficult chance for points with a penalty shot at goal into the wind. Missed.
Baildon defended well but were undone at the scrum and quick hands (0-14)
The third try was also well worked, the pin-ball conversion bouncing over first off the far upright, then the crossbar. (0-21)
Baildon worked 50 metres up the pitch with pick and drives, stringing together multiple phases of accurate rugby to end the half (0-21 HT)
The second half saw Baildon resume the attack. Good Rotherham defence kept the Jennny Laners out. An attacking line out was turned over and a Rotherham break relieved the pressure.
Baildon twice squandered possession in good field position. If you have had little possession and rare attacking opportunities, when you do get into the opposition 22 do you (a) look after the pill like it is made of gold (b) kick away possession with (at best) speculative kicks?
The answer, seemed to be (b).
When Josh Strauss was yellow carded for a high tackle, the 7 man Baildon scrum had an even more difficult battle at scrum time. It was perhaps inevitable that a further Rotherham try would come. (0-26)
Despite a man advantage, these were to be Rotherham's last points. Baildon, from somewhere, discovered their mojo.
Max Sutcliffe had a run from deep and showed good, dancing feet.
The Baildon scrum got a nudge at scrum time, Rotherham could not keep the push straight and wheeled. Baildon even nicked one against the head.
Sam Thomson, back on for his second stint, found the sort of levels of strength and aggression that his team mates recognise from training, bouncing would be tacklers off on a bullocking rampage towards the try line, only to be held up just short.
When Josh Strauss was picked up beyond horizontal in the tackle and dumped onto his shoulder, Baildon earned the penalty and Rotherham a stern talking to.
With Tom Cluett in space all he had to do was take the looping pass and he was in. The last Rotherham defender, caught too narrow leapt into the air and one handed, palm down, swatted the ball forwards to foil the move. More stern words from the whistler.
With the clock ticking, Baildon kept the ball alive, recycling and reloading with their best rugby. Harrison Strauss dived over from short range, Converted Ollie Williams. (7-26)
That was what I wrote. The scoreline suggests I missed a Rotherham try. Tough.
Despite ten minutes down a man early in the second half Baildon ended the stronger team. The performance was dogged and determined. One for Martin.