On a blustery but bright morning, we assembled for a fixture against city rivals, Broadstreet, who, like us had not had great numbers in previous years but looked to have a strong looking squad this season.
The two games proved to be hard fought, tough encounters that gave rise to much entertainment, excitement and debate, both on and off the pitch.
After a robust warm up, aimed at ensuring there was no slow start as at OLs, we lined up, raring to go.
The two sides hurled themselves into the fray and strong defence from both, meant that any ground gained was hard earned. With Matt T. and Alex M. leading the way with some thundering charges and Aiden at his rampaging best, Earlsdon gained a slight edge in the forwards and took an early lead. Street were in no mood to lie down and came back strongly to equalise. The physical battle was fierce, with Tom K., Liam and Sean providing good support and aggression to back up the usual big hitters. The backs were not seeing much ball in attack but their defensive skills were superb; Darren at his most destructive and Christian flying in at mach speed as usual to match Street's useful midfield pairing. Tries were exchanged as neither side could break fully clear, Aiden clattering over for his second and Ash wisely staying wide to get a clear run in for one. Street came back strongly and in-spite of some good defensive play particularly from Tom M. at fullback, they clawed the game back to parity. In a game where ground gained was priceless, George's restarts were proving a bonus, enabling Earlsdon to put pressure on Street. A big plus was the all round play of Gus - brave in the tackle and keeping things moving in attack.
In a game so physical between two well matched sides, there were several flashpoints and as temperatures rose, the referee had to have a few stern words with players, coaches and supporters to keep things focussed and that without qualified assistant refs or a video ref, he could only judge what he saw!
In the end the final score was 3-3.
A fair result that both sides could feel pleased with.
With the big lads feeling the effects of the tough first game, the fresher legs in squad needed to step up-which they did in abundance! Adam made a welcome return and looked very dangerous, Alex C. hurled himself into the fray with no regard for his own or anyone's safety and Brad B. bravely went to prop! after a small coaching error left us with only one on at the start. The game was played in the same brutal manner as the first with defence dominant. Due to tiredness there were a few gaps appearing and Matt. M, bored with waiting on the wing for a pass started to look for the ball and make some telling runs. Earlsdon took the lead through an Alex M. short range clatter but Street fought back to level. Brad D. provided some beef and vigour in between giving his own bizarre commentary on events and the game drew to a thrilling finale. At the death, Earlsdon were pressing and Street's fringe defence which had been excellent for most of the game finally gave out and Aiden barrelled over for what proved to be the winning try.
Earlsdon 2 - Broadstreet 1
Man of the Match - Gus, a constant threat in attack and superb in defence.
As a final thought, rugby is a hard, physical game and arouses much passion on and off the pitch, but it was a credit to the players that they were in the clubhouse afterwards exchanging info on teams to watch out for!
Report by Stew Tilt