Fleet serve up a festive treat
With conditions back at Melbourne Avenue wet underfoot the game was played across on King Georges.
Having lost to Boro earlier in the season the Green and Golds wanted to give a good showing to the home crowd. From the off Fleet showed their intent, number 8 Scott Richardson chalked up a well worked try within 3 minutes, he then missed the conversion, 5-0. If anyone thought then this game was going to be a home banker Boro had other ideas as they came right back at them. In one such forward drive centre Mike Kelly was adjudged to be blocking, penalty awarded but was struck wide of the post. The next passage of play required full on defensive duty as Fleet were camped in their own half for a sustained period. Every time they broke forward Fleet appeared to be transgressing giving penalty after penalty away which was not helped by the narrow game they had opted to play. However, having held firm in defence Fleet finally moved the ball out wide, nautical boy Harry Baker danced his way through heavy traffic to score a well worked try, conversion taken 12-0. Boro were by now means out of this encounter but things became more difficult when they had a player sin binned for a high tackle. Despite the loss Boro were awarded a penalty reducing the deficit to 12-3. Not content with holding the advantage Fleet then lost both twins Jack and Jordan Brocklehurst as the referee waved the yellow card for a melee on the floor and clearing a player out who was not in the ruck respectively. With 13 against 14 the half fizzled out! During the break Head Coach Steve Woodburn gave his troops some constructive criticism and how to focus on the second half.
The response from Fleet was immediate with fly half Karl Bowling upping the tempo and making breaks with ball in hand, the visitors defence was being tested to the limit, veteran second row Rob Broookfield and flanker James Lilley were carrying well. From a scrum five metres out recycled ball saw prominent number 8 Richardson burst threw to score his second try and take the conversion, 19-3 to the good. The Green and Gold outfit could now smell victory in the air, returning centre Jamie Mayall and burly prop Scott Dobbie entered the fray. The scrums were now being dominated and in open play Fleet were cutting the weary Boro to ribbons- it was almost champagne rugby. Some useful breaks from biscuit boy Peter Benny allowed the backs to make plenty of yards- Bowling was the next star to cross the whitewash, conversion taken making it 26-3. Although Fleet were playing great rugby Boro were still trying to salvage pride and on one particular foray they were camped on the hosts 5 metre line. Fortunately young buck ‘Oggy’ Ogden intercepted a stray pass to then sprint the full length of the pitch and score a try, conversion nudged over to take it to 33-3. In this mood Fleet were playing with confidence and with words of encouragement from the passionate home crowd they stepped up another gear. The constant go forward and high tempo had Boro on the ropes, the next set play witnessed a smart throw at the lineout by Andy Holme, a catch and drive allowed Brookfield a festive try, conversion missed, making it 38-3. Fleet saved their best till last, Mayall took the ball in his own half before gliding through the Boro defence exchanging a pass to Richardson who then in turn fed Baker to score his second in the corner, making it 43-3 at the whistle.
After such a cracking second half performance Fleet will do well to carry this forward into the New Year, as on this showing they have the ability to compete with any of the high flyers in their league. In terms of who was the Christmas cracker from this game, mention backs wise has to go Baker and Bowling who both scored tries but made plenty of yards. From a forwards perspective, all of the pack were industrious particularly in the latter stages of the game. However, for his 2 tries and 4 conversion the stand out player for his tackling, ball carrying and energy around the pitch Richardson takes the honours.
Fleet are back in action in January when they travel to Hawcoat Park hoping to start the year with a victory.
Report by Dan Jefferson