Friendship Cup Match
CYM Allsorts 17 The Mighty 3rds and Friends 35
The Mighty 3rds regained the Friendship Cup from old friends CYM on Friday afternoon, after an absence of four years, with a fine win in Dublin.
The team was on typical touring lines: a few splashes of youthful exuberance, a large dollop of double mature oldsters and a smattering of waifs and strays. In the latter category old favourite John Kerr made a welcome return to a red jersey after nearly 20 years whilst three of his friends debuted. The whiff of liniment was only marginally subdued by that of the Guinness.
In opposition CYM had a few double matures, but a large dollop of young fit men, so a clash of styles was on the cards.
Playing up the hill and into the wind, on a much improved Terenure pitch, the 3rds started strongly with a very direct game not seen in any Robinson coaching manual. Some strong running by the Mitchell boys, a surprisingly spritely Alec Fulton and some deft offloads all round made the hard yards and kept hold of the ball. Behind, the promptings of Bathgate and Livingstone at half back saw some fine work in the centre by Kerr and Herkes and some intrusions by the big polisman from fullback. Guests Rayban and Renton on the wings were striving hard, the latter showing the touches if not the physique which saw him play as a pro for Caley Reds.
In the scrums Laidlaw Junior, Wallace and Paterson had the early ascendency, and the look of a trio reared in the formers family bakery, whilst the latter, in his first outing in six years, rolled back the years. Literally, since his opponent was the 72 year leprechaun Tommy Keating. Said leprechaun was later heard to opine through a translator "Bejasis, the fecking eejit had me running fecking backwards fecking faster than I ever fecking ran before". As he departed the scrums went uncontested, much to the frustration of these pietathlon champions.
Despite the elements the 3rds had a healthy lead at half time with tries by Kerr, showing some class, Jamesie showing his age, and Livingstone showing a sleight of hand from the Paul Daniels school of tricks, before coasting over like a mild breeze. Slow motion replays in real time were in ample evidence, much to amusement of the crowd.
Turning around with points on the board but little in the tank, the use of the elements in the second half was welcome, but CY brought on some young fresh legs. The half was complicated by the use of two refs, and alas two watches, albeit a sun dial would have indicated that with darkness looming, 81 minutes really was the elapsed second half time. The second ref played a blinder, having at least two assists for CY egged on by words of encouragement from the Haddington halfbacks. At least I think they were of encouragement, since I had not heard such words before.
At one stage as the clock appeared to stand still but old father time marched on, the collective will of the 3rds was toiling against the Christian Young Men. Egged on/abused by a collection of "Monday morning quarterbacks" on the touch line it was a tough shift. Further, CYs young centre was showing a clean pair of heels to anyone who could still see them. However a 60m dash by Herkes going in under the posts, put enough distance between the teams, before he had a large splash of youthful exuberance on the far touch line. The last try came from Nellie Renton which was then converted by David Harris, who had sneaked on in his kilt and baffies to replace a cramping JK, thus finally making it for the mighty H.
The final whistle blew on what felt like Sunday morning. A tired and weary 3rds celebrated their win by filling the Friendship Cup with some port, which was more elusive than most of the team, and many other substances, ably supported by JK and friends whose carry oot was a bottle of champagne almost as big as Bathgate. A great night was had by all in the Clubhouse.
A great team effort with some fine play allround.
Man of the match Champagne Steven whose legs kept going when others around were toiling.
A splendid weekend with our hosts outstanding as always, and special mention to McKelvey who strove manfully to ensure that the longlasting tie with CY was maintained.
Hopefully the CY guys had such a taste of old style rugby on and off the field that they will front up and play next year. They will be most welcome.