Eddie Blyth, David Chapman, Stevie Stewart, Joe McDonnell, Dave Macdonald and now Darren Willoughby. The captaincy of the 3s is not an easy job but it finds itself in safe hands with Daz who has done a great job since picking up the reins earlier on this season.
The team spirit in the 3s is acknowledged as being something special, but it is not just that which has helped the team secure Division One Champions status over 2011/12. There is skill, pace, power and heart in abundance and Captain Cowhead knows he is a fortunate man to have so many people wishing to regularly pull on a Mighty 3s shirt. Long may that continue. Hussah!
Boro’ last won the title honours 4/5 (I can’t remember which) years ago under the skippership of the aforementioned McDonnell, who has since had to retire due to a series of nasty sho’der injuries. Joe would have been very pleased to see Boro’ repeat this feat on Saturday, but the rumour is that he was too busy watching BFGW on his Sky+ (other generic satellite tv recording devices are available...) to make the trip. We miss you, Joe!
The fact that Loughborough secured their table-topping position at Syston, where as a club we have never had a brilliant record, made it all the sweeter.
Syston RFC 3rd XV 7pts Loughborough RFC 3rd XV 32pts
Let us start by getting a few things out of the way. Firstly, Syston now play in Queniborough, the home of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and the playground of mad cows. It is no wonder then that the after match food is met with more than a little, err, let’s say, mooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Secondly, Boro’s 3rd XV can now describe themselves as professional players, spectators being charged £5.00 entry fee to the Barkby Road ground, presumably to watch us and not Neil Back’s Rugby Lions on the adjacent pitch. We are still waiting for our cut of the gate receipts...
The game itself was played in bright sunshine and on a firm surface, Boro’ enjoying the slight slope (Dr S. Sands’ report pending) in the first half. Things were a bit twitchy, tense, a few nerves and let’s face it, the warm up had not been the best. “Don’t panic, Captain Willoughby.” Was uttered by at least three of the ‘older’ players on show. Boro’ soon got to grips with things though, and put the hosts under immediate pressure, particularly up front where Mcinulty, Bowles and Stephens were enjoying moving their opposite numbers around in the scrummage.
Things were tight, and it was fully twenty minutes before Ethan Barnes
slotted a penalty goal to edge Boro’ ahead. Only two minutes later he added a second, albeit from a tighter angle, to double the cushion. Six points though is not enough against any side and the touchline sensed Loughborough needed something more before half time came and they had to surrender the slope.
looked like providing the extra cushion, but after doing all the hard work of picking, dummying, stepping and diving over the line, he tripped over his own hair and coughed up the ball. “Bo**ocks.” Was his only remark to that little piece of nonsense. Poor lad. Syston nearly cut through from the resulting 22 drop out and frantic chase, as Boro’ were caught napping, but the whippet-like Jimmy Stewart
, who had an outstanding afternoon despite being dwarfed by both Syston centres, cleared up the trouble.
Instead it was Loughborough who added a double whammy, two tries in two minutes pushing the lead out to eighteen unanswered points. Craig Mcfadden
, having had his hamstring taped back together by physio Symone Kendall only hours earlier, finished off a flowing set of hands and rounded his man before getting near the posts. Barnes obliged by adding the extras. Barnes himself then added his own try on the right, getting through between the Syston defenders with a neat show-and-go before shoe-horning his way through a gap that a man of his bulk should not really be able to. The tricky conversion thudded into the post before bouncing to (Syston’s) safety.
Half time, 0-18.
Buoyed by the tries, Boro’ were... well... buoyed and were getting a little bit giddy at the thought of only 40 minutes between them and the league title. Willoughby brought all and sundry down to Earth with a crashing thud, reminding everyone that more hard work was needed to secure a win. Miserable sod.
The second stanza was certainly more of a scrap. With the home side kicking deep, using the slope, Boro’s back three of McFadden, Si Jarvis
and Willoughby had plenty of tracking back, not easy in 80 degree heat. Especially for the evergreen Jarvis, who is celebrating his fiftieth birthday in just over a fortnight.
continued to make the hard yards he has done all season, constantly making himself available to punch it up the middle. Joining him in this hard yakka were big boys Tom Joyce
(how the feck do we prize him out of those horrible maroon shorts?) and Jason Harriman who played like a man possessed. Presumably he has been possessed by some sort of weird, mullet-growing, tight blouse wearing gremlin. Good players though those Gremlins.
, as well as working hard at the coal-face, rolled back the years with some dancing feet around the breakdowns, and Tom Boerboom and Liam Schofield
showed up well with smart lines and slick hands to keep things moving. Schoeh has been unlucky with injuries again this season, with several cases of inflammation of an already enlarged proboscis. The human anteater is an endangered species...
Despite still enjoying the conditions, Syston were the ones now being pushed back, time and time again, Loughborough more than matching the home side’s kicking game, whether it was Barnes’ cultured touch finders or the Garryowens of Willoughby’s size 16 right boot. When the hosts did get down into Boro’s territory they were met with staunch and enthusiastic resistance. Openside Mat Nurse, who was running his blood to water as usual, never far away from the action is Nurseh, was harshly shown a yellow card for a tackle which lifted the Syston player but never tipped / dumped / speared him. The referee was perhaps guilty of listening to a home side that were moaning far better than they were playing at this stage...
The third quarter of the match was scoreless, but only seventeen seconds after the final twenty minutes started Harriman extended the advantage, picking up and dotting down after Boro’ had driven the home side back over their own line at a 5 metre scrummage. Barnes, again, thumped over the conversion, 0-25.
and Tim Sefton came on to add fresh legs and extra impetus during the last twenty minutes and both were involved in a series of phases down the left touchline that ended with Mcfadden grabbing his second score and Boro’s fourth, which would have guaranteed a bonus point if there were any on offer in this competition. You don’t need me to tell you that Barnes added his sixteenth and seventeenth points from the kicking tee.
Now Boro’ could afford to get a bit giddy, although they were upset to gift the home side the final score of the day, in the closing exchanges, coming for one of their behemoths after a lineout and a long and powerful driving maul ended with one of them crashing over. The conversion made the final score 7-32.
Captain Willoughby was obviously thrilled to bits after the match, commenting; “I’m obviously thrilled to bits.”
Two men of the match this week; Jason Harriman up front and Jimmy Stewart
in the three-quarters. Big, big games.
Boro’ now have one final match to see out the 2011/12 League season, at home to Hinckley 3s on Saturday April 14th. All further whoopin’, hollerin’, backslapping and saying how fantastic we have all been can wait until then.
There will be a massive 3s Social / Get together / Beer / Nails / Celebration after that Hinckley match. All invited.
Over and out.