North 2 v Hope Valley
North Seconds entertained Newly promoted Hope Valley on a glorious day made for running rugby. North kicked off and immediately put Valley under pressure with some good drives and hitting up around the rucks and mauls. North were dominant in the loose, picking up anything on the ground and turning the screw on the visitors. The crowd were left in wonder that after 15/20 minutes of all the possession , and where Valley had never been in the home team's half, North had failed to score! 20/30 points in missed opportunities went a begging with silly mistakes and the final pass being knocked or or passed forward. Joe Grima was unlucky not to score with a good passage of play from the backs put him clear, but he just couldn't get the "go faster" stripes on his boots to engage and was stopped before he could slip out a pass for a certain score. The crowd were even more bemused when one of the North's knock on's was picked up by valley 5 meters from the visitors line a chip and chase, into the home teams half for the first time, a couple off passes and North were down 7 points after a converted score totally against the run of play. The game restarted and North were playing well but lacked determination to break the gain line. The forwards battered the visitors defense and the backs tried to run around the defense. What about putting them together? Ashley Dreardon was taking everything in the line out and when he won his own line, it set off a 6 phase passage of play that ended up with Lloyd Thomas crossing the white wash for his account opener and the try of the Match. Alex "wee man" Lily controlled and directed the pack from the catch and drive lineout, to drive forward deep in to valley territory. From there some indifferent handling from the backs by Big D as they tried to run the ball wide resulted in the the loss of 10 meters but was settled when Dale Wilkins secured the ball on the ground before the forwards final got to the break down. With the visitors at six's & sevens, Tyron Boadman picked up the ball and made back the lost ground before being stopped, he passing to Lloyd who hit the floor, recycled by the oncoming North pack and once again out to the backs this time a loop by Wilkins on Big D designed to spread the visitors defense, it worked when Joe Grima popped up on the wing to push ever closer to the white wash. Valley defense scrambled to hold the onslaught but this time it was North backs that recycled the ball, out to the 3/4 line where Big D drove in to the now tiring defense. The North men were on the front foot now and could smell the whitewash, Lily to Wikins, Wilkins to Boadman, Boardman back to Wilkins, passed to the on rushing Phil Pugh who a slip pass to lloyd to cross over the line for Norths first score. What a try, even though it was unconverted, well worth the wait and it should have been a platform to build from and not look back.
North couldn't sit back, some fierce defense saw Big D being penalised and yellow carded for a solid challenge to stop one of the visitors dead in his tracks, never a penalty and never a yellow card, but North paid the price when Valley, a man over now, and with one of their rare ventures into the home teams half, again scored an unconverted try to extend their lead. The inspirational wee man rallied his troops once again for another, attack. After Big D's 10 minutes in the bin, he was replaced by Larry, nobody new the difference, except for the pace, and the ball handling, and the tackling, the fitness levels, and 15 men back on the pitch. Some good ball control by both backs and forwards resulted in Baz Baron crossing over the line to even the scores with a converted try to even the scores going in to the turn around,
The half time talk was positive and the call was for more determination in the contact. The pack looked to themselves and put the words into action. Big Lew was the first to hit up then Tyron Boadman then Matt Bramwell with a powerful run to cross over to push North in to the lead for the first time in the game. The game was tough and physical but both teams were playing with in the spirit of the game. Dale Wilkins went off with a golf ball under his eye to be replaced with an up an coming young player Lewis Higgins, not a bad replacement.
The backs settled into a rhythm of moving the ball out wide and bring it back in where the forwards would take the fight to the visitors. The ever present Tyron Boardman got his just rewards for his afternoons work with a try to settle the crowd's nerves with 20 minutes to go. Phil Eckersley retire from the game which allowed North to use the full supply of reserves, even accounting for the 3 that went on loan to Hope Valley. It was a nervous last quarter of the game which quickly became squeeky bum time. Lewis Higgins was penalised close to his own line by the ref. The penalty was quickly taken by the visitors, but stopped in their tracks by the still furious Higgins with a solid, uncompromising tackle. Being so close to the initial penalty, and the word of reaction still ringing in his ears you could almost see the yellow card being shown before the ref called the player and captain over. North were down to 14 men again. With the visitors closing in on the game, a mix up in defense, offered Hope to Valley. North picked up a long defensive kick from the visitors and ran the ball infield, with an overlap to the right the inside man came left, just as the pall was being passed right, the ball bounced in no man's land, but North just had time to gift wrap and put a bow on the ball before the visitors gratefully accepted the present to walk in under the post for a converted score to trail just by 5 points.
North stuck at it, encouraged by kindly & encouraging words from Chris "Gilly" Gill, North played out the game to end up winners by 5 points. North made hard work of the game from the start, supply 3 players to the visitors after 3 of the valley players decided it would be more fun to sit in the club house bar for the afternnon, thanks go to Lloyd, Gilly, Ryan & Joe Thompson for pulling on the Valley shirt for the afternoon
Ref watch: - positioning was all wrong which meant he didn't see half the things he should have & did not play to the level of the game, but this was the same for both teams. Fitness levels ok but the first yellow card was harsh and he would eventually be talked to by the assessor about that and the second was through lack of control of his own emotions. One of the better ref though 6/10