Runwell Wyverns IIs vs King’s Cross Steelers IIIs
A blustery day by windswept marshes, the Steelers III’s debut match in the Shepherd Neame Essex Merit Table Seven showed they were a powerful force
The thirds first ever league match was away against the Runwell Wyvern IIs. The match saw some new additions to the thirds line up: Kirk Darby, Kierran Mullan and Michael Schuddinck came up from the fourths, while David Hughes and Man of the Match John Riley made their Steelers debut. The mood at Steelers Stadium before we headed off was one of nervous anticipation. How would we fare in our first match in a proper league? How well would the new line up work together? Is Kirk really a forward now?
The Steelers kicked off against the Wyverns at 3pm. The contrast between the two teams was stark, with the Wyverns by far the bigger side. Within seconds of starting, however, size seemed immaterial as first-time flankers Kirk and John repeatedly took down their biggest players with powerful and precise tackles. Continued pressure from our forwards kept us right up against their try line. Twelve minutes in, a successful scrum and some quick hands allowed Chris Plummer to crash through their defence for our first try. We were off to a good start.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the Wyverns to even the score with a blistering run out on the wing. Although the Steelers dominated possession immediately after with strong control of the rucks, a powerful kick from the Wyverns and a lost scrum saw us concede a second try. Soon after prop Michael Schuddinck was felled when a kick connected with his head rather than the ball, leaving coach Scott Marshall to substitute. The Wyverns came within a few steps of achieving another try, but were halted at the last second after being declared offside. The Steelers fought back and drew level just before the whistle for halftime, when Kierran broke the sound barrier to score a try from halfway across the pitch.
Following a few rousing words from our cheery captain James Brandon and a typically emotional display from Scott, the Steelers headed back out with a renewed sense of purpose. Regrettably the next few minutes were to prove critical for the Wyverns, who scored two tries with one conversion to bring the score to 22:10. This only served to galvanize the Steelers, with some renewed focus in the line outs and both Matt Carter and Alexis Caught making huge runs down the side of the pitch.
As the game wore on tackling on all sides started to get a bit messy. Some impressive kicks from the Wyverns and missed tackles on our part saw them push past the Steelers’ defence to make their final try for the day, also converted. Adding to our injury tally, a combined tackle went awry to ensure that the irresistible force of Kirk’s head met the immovable object of Plummer’s skull, leaving both bleeding but unbroken.
Some overenthusiastic defence and an argument with the referee later, one of the Wyverns was sent off with a yellow card. This proved a great opportunity for the Steelers to fight back, remaining unbowed even after a series of high tackles. A strong push from James Brandon created just the right opportunity for John Henry, who battled his way past the Wyvern’s backline to make the Steelers’ third try. Phil Leech then delivered the perfect kick to convert. With the clock ticking down, John Henry decided that he might as well make it a double after a short pass from Scott to take the final score to 29:22.
The thirds may have lost this time around but the mood after the match was one of excitement and determination. We held our own in our first ever league match and played a day of excellent and competitive rugby. Bring on the rest of the season.
• ‘I don’t need your validation, that’s what Instagram is for.’
• ‘Give me that cider now, I’m BOTH kinds of thirsty!’
• ‘Make sure everyone knows that I set up John Henry’s tries and deserve all the credit.’
Shepherd Neame Essex Merit Tables Division Seven: Runwell Wyverns II vs Kings Cross Steelers III, Saturday, 10 September 2016 KO 3.00 p.m. Forwards: James Brandon, Alistair O'Brien, Michael Schuddinck, Kierran Mullan, Alexis Caught, Samy Latrèche, Kirk Darby, John Henry. Backs: Richard Laws, Phillip Leech, Matt Carter, Chris Plummer, John Riley, Tom Edgar, Prince Haastrup. Reserves: David Hughes, Danilo Acosta, Scott Marshall.