Hits, Heads & Handbags...
Chaulden Lane once again reverberated to the grunts of James Laing and Ben Hamilton squeezing into their match shorts as the Camelot Merlin’s welcomed Mill Hill 2nd XV for the first league match of the season in the newly reconfigured Merit Table 6 S/W.
The home sides warm-up commenced in typical 3rd XV fashion with the backs leaning on radiators and refusing to leave the changing rooms due to the ominous looking rain clouds and the forwards searching the hedgerows for Lee wilmot.
With the pitch cleared of the usual assortment of dead animals, syringes and Ben Goodman’s pants, and the backs lured onto the field with promises of half-time back-rubs, coach Nick Fitt, took the squad through a series of drills which proved that the Camelot side should prevail provided the game required no running, passing or scrummaging whatsoever!
Winning the toss, Camelot elected to play towards the club house and receiving the kick, a recently returned Steve Greedy carried the ball to the Mill Hill pack. It quickly became apparent that what the visitors lacked in skill they made up for in size, strength and experience. Despite this, Camelot doggedly stuck to their two pod game plan trying repeatedly to over power the huge Mill Hill front row.
With the Hemel side gradually being forced backwards, errors crept in with the referee pinging for hands in the ruck, coming in from the side or not rolling away. Despite being pinned inside their own 22 for a full 25 minutes Camelots defence held, with some fierce tackles and counter rucking until a Carl Hobbs knock-on inside the 5 metre line saw Mill Hill go over for the first try at 27 minutes down the blind side wing from the resulting scrum.
Having reached unanimous agreement under the posts; whilst waiting for the visitors to miss the conversion, to keep the ball well away from the Mill Hill pack by passing out to the Hemel backs, an unfazed Camelot quickly restored order after 3 passages of play when a huge drive from Jordan Perry released Andy Tongue who broke the travellers back line letting Sam Hempenstall go over at 32 minutes.
Tom Batson narrowly missed a tricky conversion which was quickly forgotten when a resurgent Camelot struck again from 40 yards. This time it was Hemel’s number 12, Dan Tufa gathering the loose ball who was able to single handedly break through on his own for a brilliant individual effort, subsequently converted by Carl Hobbs on the 35 minute mark.
A few moments later, there was an outbreak of handbags when Camelots Rob Kay had a dispute over a tube of hair product with the visitors scrum half. With order quickly restored, Hemel found themselves once again on the back foot from the penalty and despite some valiant tackling from Camelots backs, Mill Hill stole another 5 points in the closing moments of the half with a thundering charge from their number 8 brought down just inches over the line by Charles Riches.
Half time saw the substitution of Charles for Chris Woods following a collision with a stiff breeze and the addition of Mark Pyneart and Matt Bennett for Matt Temperly and Sam Hempenstall respectively. Half time score: 12 - 5
The team talk consisted mainly of chants of the famous Camelot tune “there’s only one Jordan Perry” and breaking wind to the theme tune of Macgyver with the North London side opting to hurl clods of turf at passing Arsenal fans.
Early errors by Hemel in the opening phases of the first half allowed the more dominant Mill Hill forwards field position to drive over the home teams whitewash from a driving maul at 47 minutes.
Following the missed conversion, play was halted seven minutes later with the first Mill Hill concussion of the match being escorted off to a comfortable chair, liberated from Harpenden rugby club the previous season.
It was then the turn of the visitors to find themselves in disarray when their fly-half dropped the ball over their line to allow Steve Greedy to drop on it. Having discovered that Jon Biswell had eaten the kicking tee Carl Hobbs attempted a drop-kick conversion which resulted in amusing banter from the passing dog walkers and abuse from the driver of a passing car on whose bonnet the ball landed.
Hemel’s fitness began to take its toll on the Mill Hill players who were beginning to leave large gaps in their line which was exploited by the direct running of Camelot’s backs. The last of which saw Andy Tongue open up the centres, offloading to Alex Goodley who released Matt Bennett for Hemel’s fourth and final try of the match between the post. The derision of another missed sitter at the conversion quickly faded when a Mill Hill player was spotted motionless on the ground and in need of medical attention.
The end of the game was called by the referee at 71 minutes due to this serious head injury sustained by the Mill Hill 10.
Despite the way the game ended, Hemel did the job required of them to secure their first league win of the new season. Well done lads.
All at Camelot offer their best wishes to Mill Hills Callum for a speedy recovery.
Vital match statistics
Red Cards: 0
Yellow Cards: (surprisingly) 0
Dog walkers: 12
Dog walkers on the pitch: 2
Man of the match: Alex Goodley
Ambulances called: 2
Mention in despatches: Tom Batson (scrum half), John Gardiner (first game of rugby ever) & Carl Hobbs (for lasting more than 9 minutes)
Team Manager: Mikhaila Knowles
Team Coach: Nick Fitt (also Camelot Dir. Rugby)
Team Captain: Charles Riches
Forwards Coach: Bill Jahn
Assistant Captain / Vice Captains: Ben Goodman, Ben Hamilton, Jason Reed
If you are interested in playing rugby for Camelot, whether you are an experienced player or new to the game please contact Nick on firstname.lastname@example.org .
This Friday see’s the 3rd XV entertain the reformed Camelot Magicians (Vets) under floodlights on the 1st team pitch for a friendly warm-up match. Kick off is 8pm. Click below for the full match preview.
This will be followed by the 2nd league match for the Merlins on September 30th when they again entertain Tring 4th XV at home, 3pm Kick Off.
The team would be grateful for as much support as possible for both matches.