GRASSHOPPERS FESTIVAL – 21ST OCTOBER 2012
On an overcast and blustery day [very similar conditions to last year’s Grasshoppers Festival], the Finchley A and B squads were looking to match the success of the 2011 tournament where the Diamond Geezers ran out as deserved winners.
Unfortunately due to a couple of teams dropping out and last minute schedule changes, the boys had to wait some time before their first matches kicked off. This was to have a MAJOR bearing on the eventual destination of the trophy later on.
1. James Holden
2. James Egerton
3. Sami Noor
4. Tom Cain
5. JJ Lewis
6. Finlay Jones
7. Harry Worton
8. Sora Shijiori
9. Bryn McBurney
10. Sub:Tom Spens
1. Alfie Buxton
2. Andrew Rosen
3. Cameron Meola
4. Freddie Woodford
5. Ronan Heekin
6. Ben King
7. Gabriel Mindham
8. Matt Beirne
9. Teo Wickham
10. Sub: Jack Beirne
Finchley A vs. Ruislip [5-1]
The boys were full of confidence. The game kicked off and straight away the red hoops started pressing the opposition back. A loose pass from Ruislip was picked up by Sora who flicked it to Tommy who then drove to the line to make it 1-0 to Finchley.
Ruislip kicked off and were trying to work the ball forward but a crunching tackle by Sami saw the ball end up with James H who launched off on one of his signature swaggering runs to make it 2-0.
This theme continued; great handling, driving over the ball and winning opposition scrums. Harry was fed the ball from Finlay and jinxed his way to the line – 3-0. Half time!
The coaches didn’t have much to say to the boys in the break – just more of the same please .
The second half kicked off with Ruislip exerting some real pressure for the first time in the match. This eventually told as the opposition scored from a line out to make it 3-1.
Was this the beginning of an unlikely comeback from Ruislip – nah! Great handling by Finlay, JJ and Sami saw the ball reach Harry who scored a magnificent team try… 4-1.
Ruislip came again but some truly fierce tackling, especially by Bryn, held them at bay and eventually the ball made its way to James H to score in the corner for a final score of Finchley A 5–1 Ruislip.
Staines vs. Finchley B [2-2]
The B team were keen to carry on the success of the As but the match started off scrappily with both teams suffering from loose handling and lacklustre tackling. Staines started to get a grip of the match and eventually made it up to the Finchley line but were held up by some great defensive work by Jack but Staines were not to be denied and went over to score an early try… 0-1.
This seemed to wake the Bs up. Great run and pass by Gabriel to Matt saw him tenaciously skip through a couple of tackles to score in the corner. 1-1, game on!
The boys were on fire, the Beirne boys were producing some great wing play on both flanks, Teo, Andrew, Ronan and Ben were tackling like demons, Freddie and Alfie pressing superbly and Gabriel showing some real star quality in his handling and running. This superiority told when Gabriel ran half the length of the field to score a great individual try to make it 2-1.
Finchley came close to scoring a 3rd try but Jack and then Freddie were both held up on the Staines line. The ball came back to Staines and against the run of play, helped by some unconvincing tackling by our boys, ran in an equaliser… 2-2!
Was there a time for a winner? From the restart, the ball was passed to Matt who made a gazelle like run for the line but was pushed into touch just short. Final score, Finchley B 2-2 Staines.
A worthy mention must go to our new player Cameron who was subbed on quite a bit and was brilliant and really help fend off the opposition. He has a six inch stud scar to prove it – the magic spray was in demand!
Finchley A vs. Bank of England [8-0]
The boys knew the opposition were not the strongest [BoE lost to Rosslyn Park 7-0 in their previous match] but the job needed to be done – they did not disappoint.
From the kick off, Sami got the ball and played a lovely running pass to Finlay who confidently strode to the line to make it 1-0.
Some great rucking by the boys saw the ball won and taken on by Tommy who slipped past his man to score. 2-0 to the red hoops.
The play in the scrum reached a new level today. Tommy, James E and Sami were working as a real unit and from one of these balls won against the scrum, came another fantastic try by Finlay.
Harry made it 4-0 when he picked up a loose ball and used his pace to leave the BoE backs languishing in his trail.
James H then turned on the swaggering style that only he can produce by scoring a quick fire hat trick to make it 5-0 at half time and then a couple straight after the restart. 7-0!
The boys wanted EIGHT to give Rosslyn Park something to think about in the next game and it duly came from Tommy blistering down the wing to make the final score Finchley A 8-0 BoE – Bring on Rosslyn!
Finchley B v Grasshoppers [2-1]
Crunch time for the Bs – they needed a win to keep their hopes of progressing to the knockout stage alive. The boys started well, pressing up the field. Great running again by Matt took him close to the Grasshoppers line before he got tackled but the loose ball ended up in Gabriel’s hands who confidently ran to the line to score… 1-0.
The rest of the half saw Grasshoppers apply some intense pressure and they would have scored but for some great tackling by the team, especially Gabriel and Jack who were playing with real high intensity. Half time 1-0 in favour of the red hoops.
It was clear that the boys had the bit between their teeth and Andrew typified that sprit with a great run and pass to Freddie who looked like he was set to run free but great tackling from the opposition stopped him in his tracks and led him being taken off and Cameron being put on. Grasshoppers were now starting to turn the tide and came close to scoring but a loose pass was picked up by Gabriel who ran the length of the field to make it 2-0 – what a score!
Grasshoppers were beginning to lose their discipline and their tempers and some unsavoury actions went largely unpunished. This shook our boys up a bit and Grasshoppers ran in a largely uncontested try.
Grasshoppers continued to play on the boundaries of the rules and eventually the referee ended the game a few seconds early and rightly so. Final score - Finchley B 2-1 Grasshoppers.
LONG LUNCH BREAK – The earlier scheduling issues meant both Finchley teams had a long wait before they would come back to the field of play meaning that both teams would have to play 3 matches on the bounce if they got through the group stages – a really tough ask, especially as Hammersmith and Ealing had completed their groups and were waiting in the semi-finals.
Finchley B vs. Wasps [2-0]
The Bs started where they left off from the Grasshoppers match against a very good Wasps team. Both teams were playing good competitive rugby and it was an even start. The red hoops eventually started to push Wasps back with excellent rucking and great tackling. Alfie got hold of a loose ball and passed it down the line to Teo who sent a reverse pass to Gabriel to stump the opposition with a sublime score. 1-0 to Finchley B.
Wasps hit back but the Finchley line held firm with some truly fantastic last gasp tackling by EVERYONE - Half time!
Wasps came out in the second half and continued to apply sustained pressure but the forwards held firm. Great play by Cameron got them out of trouble on at least two occasions. Andrew again had a great run down the line which almost ended up with a score but from the following set play, Teo took the ball into the corner to make it 2-0.
Credit to Wasps, they never gave it up and continued to come back at Finchley but they just could not break our defensive line. Delirious cheers at the final whistle – The Bs are tournament semi-finalists!!! Final score – Finchley B 2-0 Wasps.
Finchley A vs. Rosslyn Park [3-1]
The big one! We all knew Rosslyn Park are a crack outfit and potentially the best team in the tournament. This was going to be epic!
The red hoops exerted early pressure and were not overawed. From the line out, Sami pushed the ball out to Sora who skipped and jumped pass the opposition to score – first blood to Finchley 1-0!
Some loose play from Finchley for the first time in the tournament allowed Rosslyn up the field in a blink of an eye and it was suddenly 1-1.
Rosslyn were now really up for it and showing why they are a class act. They started to put some good moves together and very nearly scored but for some out of this world tackles by Bryn and Tommy. Some of the Finchley boys were getting rattled – we needed half time.
A great pep talk from the coaches sent the boys out for the second half knowing what needed to be done – keep our shape and our discipline.
The boys took heed, a couple of marauding runs from Sami, although stopped in his tracks by the referee, signalled to Ruislip that the red hoops were not going to lose this game.
A fantastic flowing move involving Finlay, Sami and Bryn, ended up with the ball in Harry’s hands who drove to line to make it 2-1 to Finchley.
Rosslyn responded but so did Bryn! A hat trick of last ditch tackles denied the opposition a score. Finchley needed a third try. The ball eventually broke for a rare Finchley attack. Sami had the ball 5 metres out from the Rosslyn line. The entire opposition team was holding him back but he summoned his strength and stretched his sinews to power over the line to score and send the parents and coaches into unbridled joy – The As join the Bs in the semi-finals. Final score Finchley A 3-1 Rosslyn Park.
Finchley Bs vs. Hammersmith & Fulham [0-4]
Although the Bs put in another valiant effort, Hammersmith ran out comfortable winners. Final score Finchley Bs 0-4 Hammersmith & Fulham.
This was a very tough match with Freddie being subbed with Cameron, then Ronan coming on after Cameron got injured. The boys were shattered and just couldn’t keep up with the very fast outside centre player who scored three in a row. The boys fought back but just didn’t have the speed to keep up with this one star player on the Hammers team The H&F winger scored their last try bringing them to 4.
Finchley As vs. Ealing [3-1]
Early pressure again by the red hoops at the start of a match left Sami with the ball who hit James H with a cool running pass from him to score with ease. 1-0 Finchley.
Ealing were another tough side and this manifested itself with the opposition running up the wing to score a try although it was somewhat suspect as the player had clearly gone to ground and then picked himself up with ball still at hand to go over and score. Oh well! 1-1.
This wasn’t going to be a walk in the park but the boys were a lot calmer at half time this time around – confidence was still high.
The second half started with Finchley driving up towards the Ealing line. Finlay got hold of the ball and bundled his way over the line – great strength and determination. 2-1 Finchley.
Ealing heads started to drop a little and Bryn took full advantage with a great run and pass to Sora who completed the scoring. Final score Finchley A 3-1 Ealing. Into the final… AGAIN!
THIRD/FOURTH PLACE PLAY OFF
Finchley B vs. Ealing [1-3]
Finchley lost this match but it was a very close match with a great try scored by Tom Spens
. The boys were tired and Ealing seemed to have just a bit more strength. The tackling was great and the boys did show they had really worked as a team today but they were tiring. Ealing had some very fast wingers and unfortunately for Finchley they just seem to make to the try line first. Final score Finchley B 1-3 Ealing.
GRASSHOPPERS TOURNAMENT FINAL 2012
Finchley A vs. Hammersmith & Fulham [2-3]
Hammersmith looked very fresh [unsurprisingly with just 1 match played in the last couple of hours]. Unfortunately the same could not be said of the red hoops. JJ was a casualty from the Rosslyn Park match and Sami was a major doubt after getting injured during the Ealing game. The rest of the boys were tired [as were the parents – it was a looong day]. Still, we are Finchley and we don’t give up. Sami forced himself onto the pitch and the match began. The freshness in Hammersmith’s legs soon told as they ran in a try with very little resistance from Finchley. This didn’t look good – 0-1 Hammersmith.
Hammersmith were controlling most of the game at this stage as Finchley were unable to play with their usual dynamism. There was also some unfortunate foul play by Hammersmith that the referee did not spot which upset some of our boys. Hammersmith ran in another try just before half time. 0-2.
It was a difficult half time talk as the boys were dead on their feet and upset at some of the under hand tactics of the Hammersmith team. Could the red hoops raise their spirits in the second half?
Finchley started on the front foot pressing all the way up to the Hammersmith line but one loose pass was punished by a great length of the field run by a really classy Hammersmith winger. 0-3.
You would have expected the Finchley boys to capitulate but not these lads. Sami at last seemed to have recovered and charged at the Hammersmith line. The ball was sprayed out to Gabriel who scored in the corner. 1-3.
Finchley came again, a punishing run from Tommy took him to 10 metres out and the loose ball got picked up by Harry who slid over the line to make it 2-3.
Hammersmith were now being made to look ordinary as Finchley somehow found renewed energy and started driving the ball forward again but the whistle blew for full time. Final score Finchley A 2-3 Hammersmith & Fulham. A magnificent 2nd half effort from the red hoops who [in my biased mind] would have won this tournament had the scheduling not gone against them.
Both the A & B team should be very proud of their play today. Everyone played their part and some played out of this world. The future for the Diamond Geezers is looking very rosy indeed .