The spirit of rugby lives on as Darlington pop up on a wee tour visiting Hawthorden on their home leg.
Leaving the comfort of their surroundings on Sat morning they visited Morpeth on their way to Edinburgh overcoming their first hosts in a close match. Travelling north they took lodgings in the centre of town and spent the evening bowling and other activities before hitting the pillows some time in the early morning. A sharp start on Sunday and a stop of at Lasswade for a game of rugby, a pie and a pint (for those old enough), a chin wag and a laugh or two in the club afterwards before hitting the road homeward.
The Lasswade U13 team gathered on this overcast morning earlier than usual as the KO time was brought forward to 11. The boys arrived with a bit of desire to put on a performance but the cold sharp wind not only dropped the temperature but I think sunk their enthusiasm as we tried to work them hard in the warm up to “summon up the blood”. Our numbers stopped at 12 so we borrowed 3 of theirs to make up a starting 15. Our dirty dozen were Harry, Max, Joe, Duncan, Ben, LewisB, Cammie Chris, Grant, Nial Lewis and Luke.
From the off we tried to do go forward with attitude but we looked in a bit of a mess, we did not support the ball carrier and when ball was turned over there was no shape to the defense allowing gaps between players. Darlington had a few larger guys who took ball on and gained ground giving there other players confidence and a bit of space while their strong running full back whizzed along, around and through the hapless Lasswade defense. Our scrums were working and the rucking was gaining ball. Every now and again we would gain possession and have a go, but too often the ball carrier would run sideways before the pass allowing the defense to meet receiver. In the second quarter we started to halt their go forward, we took the ball on and with some effort gained ground and momentum. A number of phases later we were at their 22, the players looked confident in their shape but this broke down as the ball lost in a ruck came out to their strong runner who ran for some distance for the try. This seemed to be the flow of the game for the first half.
At the break we said to boys to keep going and their effort would show some reward. The second half started and as it progressed it followed the pattern of the first. We had good spells from time to time while in attack we would lose ball because we did not protect it (a cardinal error) as it was knocked loose or not paying attention at ruck time. In defense again the lack of that final step or commitment resulted in oppo running through without being tackled or even being put off. In broken or open play there was little pressure applied which allowed Darlington to regather or have time to compose their attack. The final passage of play found Lasswade deep in enemy territory, some great effort by all concerned akin to what might be expected in the Heineken Cup with possession swapping back and forth many times. Each time the ball would be ripped or won (near lawfully) from a ruck and with great effort would be carried forward only to be halted by a collision or miss pass. Again the attack would continue afresh, with increased vigor from the side lines the excitement rose to new heights as finally Lasswade took the ball over the whitewash wide left near the touchline to record the score and prevent the shutout. The game ended the best way, on a high, the final score didn’t matter.
The scrums went well in the first half but after a few changes things went a wry. Lineouts were difficult with 4 big chaps lining up against the smaller Lasswade forwards. The rucking was positive but the general play, the things we have been working on, support, the defensive line and depth all seemed to be missing. Thanks to Mark for reffin, with due consideration he allowed the game to flow which was needed and a big thanks to the Darlington players who stepped in and made up the numbers for Lasswade. A lot of new players on the field many not had more than a game or two so well done to those guys and for everyone else who made it a real positive meeting.
After the game the Darlington players and travelling support of mums and dads draped in multi colored tutus joined the Lasswade faithful for a plate-o-pasta or a pie, with a few of the supporters enjoying the liquid gold that was available. The Darlington visitors were lead by Gary Adams (Taffy) a Welshman (you would never have guessed) who kept the proceedings moving along. Club ties were exchanged, players from both teams were selected as player of the day and a club plaque was presented to taffy who in return gave the team the touring/game ball. A few games followed for the boys like chase the drink to get the boys accustomed the post match activities that are often enjoyed (more so that the rugby) by players (and any one else around at the time) throughout the lands. Touring is a big part of rugby whether we host or travel comradery is built, friendships are made, often for life and respect is seen in abundance. Thanks to Taff for his part in bringing the tour to us and I hope the boys continue this for many years to come. Also for Andy and Nick the boys coaches, of course we cant do those things without the support of the mums and dads who either help in the kitchens or drive the kids to and from the club or even coach.
Lasswade honors went to Chris our captain for the day and as such was given a Darlington badge along with a club tie for Lasswades player of the game chosen by Taff and coaches. A club tie for Cammie chosen by Markie B as another Lasswade player for merit. Harry was given the game ball on behalf of the U13 team. Darlington Honors went to their full back Dom chosen by myself, who also won this the day before. Darlingtons player of the day went to Mitch who from the back of the scrums had a real go forward attitude the best seen from him to date.
Thanks to all who were involved on kitchen duty without whom not much could be done.