RNEC round 1.
On paper if not on the pitch we had the players and skills to go with them to put Old Techs to the sword. The trouble was that they are an experienced pack, coached by former Albion forward Nigel Bullock and who played as if they all came from the same family, a bit stronger in the scrums stealing a couple against the head and like a Roman phalanx in the maul. Once they or the backs got the ball it was the devil's own job to steal it from them. Consequently we had far less of the ball than we would have liked.
In the lineouts, however, we are stronger with Edgy and Joe feet above them and stealing ball.
From the off they started up the pitch then collected a penalty, 3-0.
The penalty count against us during the game was horrifying, some were probably justified and caused by over enthusiasm some left the travelling supporters bewildered. Line out ball taken over the inside shoulder declared not straight. And my personal bugbear, allowing their hooker to stand at 45 degrees preparing to put in at the scrums with the guarantee that the ball would go in at the same angle, by the end of the game I think poor old Barnsie had lost the will to live and he may even have forgotten that he was a hooker. I intend to go to the next referees meeting to ask Tony Spreadbury, who is speaking there (all welcome 3rd Feb 19:30 at the OPMs. Club house) why the law seems to be ignored by referees. We had honest Alex Hanson who, quite rightly, puts the ball in with a set square at his feet for guidance.
Any way, not long after that we got a seven pointer thanks to Phil Greenside who had little trouble beating the defence. Matt Anstis put over a conversion from wide out.
We then put another seven pointer on the scoreboard, had there been one, when James Buckley slid in under the posts, or rather the cross bar. (you can't slide in under the posts, sorry to be pedantic) leaving Matt a simple conversion, 3-14. It looked as if entry in to the next round of the cup was a formality. Our backs were far too strong and the contest an unequal one. The Techs and the referee had other thoughts and after a long period of ball retention and the second of two scrums on our line was deemed to have been illigally bought down by us and a penalty try awarded, 10-14.
After a long 48 minute half and the break we started with a brief attack killed by another penalty against us, they kicked up field and then their winger slipped in on the top side to take them into a 15-14 lead. Credit to the side, we kept our cool and as fitness told and we just got the edge in the scrums, with a bit of time still remaining a line out just in their half. Joe McKinley stole the ball at the front made great ground fending off defenders, worked his way midfield and under considerable pressure went to ground and made the ball available, it was whipped out wide and lastly to Ryan Morris who went over, another difficult conversion was put over by Matt to give us a 15-21 lead. They pressurised us a bit at the end but we held out reasonably easily to go in to the next round against OPMs.
For my money Joe was my man of the match for creating the winning try.