MATCH REPORT: 2XV Away at Feltham
The boys find no luck away against a side several leagues above. Match report by William Monk.
On becoming Prime Minster in 1940, Winston Churchill solemnly addressed the nation.
“I have nothing to offer”, he proclaimed, “but blood, tears, toil and sweat and handling errors”.
He clearly had Finsbury Park RFC 2’s trip to Feltham in mind. A very prescient man was Churchill.
Despite the best efforts of South Western Railway, the 2’s travelled down to somewhere near Heathrow to take on Feltham in their first pre-season friendly. An exciting looking back line, fortified with many of the new faces drawn in by the Summer recruitment drive lined up alongside an innovative pack made up of two locks and 6 flankers. Although uncontested scrums negated the home side’s weight advantage to some extent, a cursory glance at the two teams suggested that the South Londoners may have a bit of an advantage in that department.
Things started promisingly enough. Despite Feltham applying some early pressure, the Finsbury Park defence held firm with typically aggressive efforts from Aaron Carter and Rob Simpson helping to keep the team in blue the right side of the try line. Gradually, the away team dragged themselves into the game. Sensing a weakness in the opposition back three, number 10 Nick Tewson tried to impose himself on the game by kicking for territory. It worked, and the game was starting to move more into the home team’s half.
Owain Luckwell controlled the play from scrum half well, allowing the team the space and time to play the game the Finsbury Park way. A few misplaced passes meant that the breakthrough didn’t come straight away, but it was now Fins who were in the ascendancy.
Sadly this optimism was punctured by a spate of injuries. Owain Luckwell, Rob Simpson and Will Mitchell amongst others left the field and the team was reshuffled. Perhaps understandably, the changes meant that the rhythm of the game was disrupted and the head of steam that had been building up until that point started to dissipate. Spotting their opportunity, Feltham took control in the middle of the park, using their big men to good effect to drive forward and score near the posts. The try was duly converted.
The crowd, boosted by the presence of some newly arrived paramedics, looked on grimly. The rest of the half seemed to follow a similar pattern of players being rotated on and off as they picked up knocks here and there, and in the confusion Feltham got a few more.
The half time break allowed Captain Tewson a moment to work out exactly who was left standing and what positions they were meant to be playing. After a bit of creative reshuffling we were ready to go again.
A bright start and some smart kicking saw The Fins spend a bit of time in The ‘Ham’s territory. Some impressively fluid movement around the back threatened to open up the Southwest Londoner’s powerful defence, but the lack of match sharpness told as a number of promising moves broke down shortly before what surely could (and maybe should) have been well worked tries.
As the game wore on, the constant attacks from Feltham started to take its toll. Bodies were still being put on the line and every trudge back to the halfway line was met with an enthusiastic chase, but the injuries and effort put in up to that point meant that cracks were starting to appear. The home team used their big and surprisingly fast players to good effect, punching holes in the valiant yellow and green warriors’ defence almost at will. It was looking as though our heroic troops efforts were going to be in vain.
It was typical of the game when under heavy pressure from Feltham, only metres from his own try line, makeshift scrum-half Ross Wilson decided upon a questionable pass towards the number 10. It was sharply intercepted and quickly grounded, earning the home team another five points and Ross an unassailable lead in the Dick of The Day contest, which up until that point could have been anyone’s.
And then a moment of magic. Whether it was due to a period of relative stability on the injury front, or that in their mental weariness they were running on instinct alone, but suddenly the team found the shape and coherence that had been allusive up until that point.
Taking control of the ball towards the right, the forwards drew the opposition defence towards the touch line. A quick move out to the left found the backs with the space and the momentum to swarm forward. Sensing that this was going to be the moment they had been waiting for, the passing was swift and the rucks were cleared with some venom. Possession was recycled and some more sharp passing and movement saw the ball reach the grateful hands of Tristan Russell on the wing, who burned past the flat-footed defence to plant the ball over the line in the left-hand corner. Conversion duly missed, but at least we were on the board.
The remaining few minutes passed with a little less drama but in the end the home side’s victory was convincing. Finsbury Park however left with their heads held high after a typically 100% committed performance throughout against a team a few leagues higher.
MOTM : Tristan DOTD : Ross
Final score : Something – 5