On a cold wet April afternoon these two sides were left to generate the energy and heat in this the third Toby Fairclough memorial match and both sides duly completed their roles with great commitment and no little skill.
The Royal Latin Grammar School (Latin) kicked off towards the road end with a well judged kick which allowed their forwards to arrive simultaneously with the Akeley Wood (Akeley) receiver. Unfortunately a slight misjudgement in timing led to the receiver being taken in the air and a penalty being awarded to Akeley. The Akeley fly half clearing well up to the half- way line. A lineout infringement by Latin then allowed the fly half to repeat the kick and find touch within the Latin 22 .
From the lineout Latin contested well , as they did all match, and stole the ball to allow the Latin fly half to clear downfield .The Akeley left winger retrieving the ball and setting off to counter attack being chopped down and leaving Akeley to drive the ball on through their heavyweight pack. A determined Latin defence however kept Akeley in their own half and forced a knock on. With the difficult conditions and slippery ball this was also to be one of a number of errors made under pressure by both sides.
Eventually Akeley sent a raking low kick through to get into the Latin half, but an even better return kick by the classy Latin Full back meant Akeley having to try and win the next lineout from within their own 22. Latin recovered the ball and the full back set up the outside backs with a two man overlap which , while getting to within 5 metres of the try line , was squandered with the ball carrier failing to pass, and Akeley’s scrambling defence eventually clearing.
Latin continued to press and were awarded a kickable penalty in the Akeley 22 , but with confidence rising chose to kick to the corner. Akeley defended well and secured a turnover to clear up to the Latin full back , who choosing to run , glided past a couple of would be tacklers in the middle of the pitch to find his winger in support but who slipped with the line beckoning.
The first score of the game seemed inevitable, and duly arrived following a short penalty taken in front of the posts ,when following good work by the forwards to within feet of the line , the ball was fed to the powerful Latin centre to crash over. The try converted by the Latin fly half to make it Latin 7 Akeley 0 after 25 mins.
Shortly after the Latin centre was sin binned for a dangerous tackle and this seemed to ignite the Akeley pack and led to the Akeley second row crashing through the last two Latin Defenders to score under the posts, following strong runs from his fellow forwards. Score at half time Latin 7 – Akeley 7.
The second half continued to be dominated by both defences until after 10 mins with what appeared to be a set move from a line out the Latin backs with a dummy runner making space released the fullback through the hole in the middle of the pitch and allowed him to race over and score out wide. Try unconverted. Score Latin 12 –Akeley 7.
The next score of the game came five minutes later from a delicate chip by the Latin fly half just inside the Latin half which was collected by the pacey Latin centre on the full , who sped under the posts to score. Try converted by the flyhalf to make the score Latin 19 Akeley 7 .
Akeley were far from done , and continued to assert their dominance in the set scrum and put pressure on the Latin backs which resulted in an interception by the Akeley winger who was hauled down only feet from the try line. Latin did well to deny a score by courageous tackling but were forced to concede a penalty in front of the posts .Akeley took the tap and after a couple of drives around the fringes the Akeley flanker burst through the middle of the ruck to score. Try duly converted to make it Latin 19 – Akeley 14.
Latin kicked long from the restart and hoped to force the error by pinning Akeley in their own 22 as they tried bravely to run it out at every opportunity. The nearest they came to another score however was when Akeley kicked clear and Latin gathered and drove on through their impressive flankers who had gained yards on every carry. A good low kick stayed in touch near to the corner flag and whilst the defender gathered , the enthusiastic attackers failed to release him on the floor and Akeley kicked clear.
The result of the game remained in doubt to the end which was well demonstrated when Latin were awarded a penalty just inside the Akeley 22, and having scorned earlier easier chances chose to go for the posts.The decision being justified when the Latin Fly half converted to make the final score Latin22 – Akeley 14 .
Bragging rights to Latin but more importantly a victory for the brotherhood of Rugby and a match to make Toby’s father proud.
Updated 18:36 - 3 May 2018 by Buckingham Rugby