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2nd XV - Match centre

Horden & Peterlee II
Gateshead II
Sat 17 Feb 14:15 - Cup Full time

Fine Team Effort

2s v Horden Match Report by James Collins

At the start of the week we had named a squad of 15 players, which included around 13 forwards, so I looked like it was going to be a bit of a task to get a competitive team out. The prospect of Paul Bate at 9 and John Kelly at 12 really focuses the mind, and with a lot of hard work, a few favours called in and a few bribes offered, we ended up with a squad of 23 or so including some former players making comebacks, and some brand-new faces making debuts.

Our preparations weren’t helped by the fact that when we arrived at the club, we were told we needed to take a mini bus over to their old changing rooms. This needed 2 trips there and 2 trips back to get everyone sorted, and we ended up arriving on to the pitch with about 5 minutes to go before kick-off. Luckily, the Horden lads agreed to a later kick-off and we managed to get some badly needed time together before the game to go through some of what we needed to.

Horden came with the kind of team we were expecting, a very good, strong forward pack and hard runners in the backs. They also had a couple of players that added a bit of spark to their back line and it was going to be a tough test. We started well and really put them under a bit of pressure in the first 10-15 minutes.

Because of the way the week had gone, the back line had literally met each other about 15 mins before kick-off. We had 3 debuts, 1 lad who’d played 1 or 2 3rd team games this year, and 2 lads who had been away from the club for some time and in the opening exchanges it did show a little bit. There were a few unsympathetic passes, wayward kicks and dropped balls that you’d expect from players who were trying to get over a bit of rustiness. You can manage that if its one or two of your players, but unfortunately for us it as affecting everyone!

Still, we competed well, there was no lack of effort or heart from the new lads, so we went in to half time only 6-0 behind to 2 penalties. At that stage I was sure we had the better players, and the Horden boys were tiring a bit, so I was confident we could turn it around.

The second half was more of the same from us in the first 20 mins, and Horden wore us down resulting in them scoring a decent try.

Their second try was a different story. Micky Ewart will be pleased to know that his kick against Novos has been overtaken as the worst kick I have seen this season/in my life. Jason Boyle, another making his debut, was starting to show some real quality at centre, but was covering at Full Back when he put in a perfect grubber kick right in to the corner from just inside our half. Unfortunately, it was in the completely wrong direction, and their lad duly raced on to it and scored.

We went down to 14 when Joe Simm had a case of the red mist and got himself a straight red. I don’t want to dwell too much on it, he clearly felt very bad after the event, and for a young lad he showed great maturity (and no small amount of bottle), to go over to the lad to shake his hand and apologise. If he learns from it, he’ll come out a better player and I’m sure he’ll do that.

We conceded another try, but the lads got some reward for their hard work when we scored a try in the corner through Will Mills, who was one of the lads making their debut at 9.

Horden deserved their win (although the margin was maybe a little bit flattering), but overall I felt it was a positive day. I have to say a massive thank you to all the lads who came along at short notice (James Stansby, Will Mills, Cam Taylor, Jason Boyle, Dan McReady, Joe Simm, Matty Hirst and James Trapp), we wouldn’t have had a game without you lads and I hope to see you again at the club. Will and Cam are clearly very good players, and after they got in to the swing of things they really started to control the game towards the end, Jason would have been a contender or the backs man of the match, if that kick hadn’t happened (but it did, and that put an end to that). It was also great to have Stanners back, and although he played out of position for a lot of the game his contributions were vital, and his tackling was as good as it always has been.

An equally massive thanks to all the lads who contacted people to get them along on Saturday, James Marshall, Charlie Ladds, Charlie Davies, Tom Skidmore, Martin and Dan Fenwick, Paul Bate and anyone else who I’ve forgotten. These boys really helped me out during the week, and I was very grateful for all their efforts.

The reliable ‘old guard’ were great too, everyone put their body on the line, but Paul Bate in particular was captain and my man of the match in the forwards, his contribution throughout in the set piece and in the loose was superb. John Kelly was great when he came on too, and saved a certain try with an immense effort to get back and hold up their player on the line. John’s getting to be a senior player now, and his leadership and attitude on Saturday was great to have in the team. James Trapp looked very dangerous in the second half when we manged to get him the ball and following ‘kick-gate’ probably pipped Jason for the backs man of the match.

The whole pack played well, and towards the end of the game we really put their scrum under pressure, which is not something often seen at Horden.

Final Score was 25-5.

If we can get this team together for the last few weeks of the season I’m positive about what might be positive next year, but we need the players to make a commitment to the team, to each other and to the club if they can. Get to training lads, make yourself available for Saturdays, and we will be on the up next season, I’m absolutely sure of it!

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