On a sunny Saturday afternoon at The Memorial Ground, Cryptians hosted Gloucester Old Boys in what turned out to be a very good game of local rugby played in great spirit by both teams.
With an early kick off being arranged so both teams could get back into the clubhouse in time to watch the England game, the change of time cause chaos amongst the Cryptians team with everyone arriving at different times and captain EJ McGill arriving on the pitch just in time to get called over by the ref to do the toss, Cryptians were about as prepared for the game as a butcher is prepared for catering for a vegetarian banquet.
Winning the toss Cryptians received the kick off and played down the hill. Several strong carries from James Weaver and Gareth Morris gave Cryptians some good territory but a resilient Old Boys defence meant Cryptians were left with little attacking options and fly half Chris Watson played it safe and played a kicking game to keep Old Boys pinned back.
Both teams were soon down to 14 men each when Steve Lewis took exception to a late hit and produced a flurry of punches that was similar to a Duncan McRae attack on Ronan O'Gara only without the same resulting injury to the player.
The first real attacking moment of the game came through Old Boys when a backs move carved through the Cryptians defence with only a try saving tackle by Khiam Barry preventing the centre from crashing over. A penalty for hands in the ruck was awarded but the Old Boys fly half missed the relatively simple kick.
Gary McIness provided the comedy moment of the game. Finding himself stood in the backs for some unknown reason, the ball ended up in his hands. Gary looked up into space and saw a 4 man overlap with 2 centres, a winger and a full back outside of him. Gary was the most experience player in the team and therefore everyone thought it was a simple case of pass the ball and we will score. But it wasn't to be. Forgetting how to pass a ball he threw the ball several metres forwards, seemingly forgetting he was playing rugby and thinking he was at the superbowl, and butchering the overlap completely. Shouts from the home crowd of 'that wasn't straight Gary' did little to help soften the blow for him.
With 10 minutes of the half left Gloucester Old Boys scored the first points of the game. A scrum 5 metres out saw the bearded number 8 pick the ball up from the base of the scrum and run towards the blindside and dive for the line like a contestant on the ITV show Splash. The fly half converted.
Cryptians were unlucky not to score when the ref disallowed a try for double movement although expert analysis shows that Gareth Morris actually did use his momentum to roll over for the try, he just had a lot more momentum that the average man due to his additional size.
The last play of the half saw Cryptians nearly score one of the greatest tries in recent history. A Gloucester Old Boys scrum on the 22 saw open side McGill rush up and send the fly half backwards knocking the ball on. EJ quickly got to his feet and fly hacked the ball 20 metres down the field. James Weaver was first to the ball and he too fly hacked it a further 30 metres down the pitch. Into the Old Boys 22 and Tom Bendall was the next Cryptian player to kick the ball on, expertly weighting the kick so it fell just short of the try line. With several Cryptians players running towards the full back who was the only Old Boys player back, he did majestically to somehow find the space to kick the ball out into touch to end the half.
Half time saw several changes for Cryptians with Shakey and Mike Simmonds going to A and E to assess the extent of their injuries and Steve Lewis deciding that 30 minutes of rugby was more than enough for him despite having the 10 minute rest, Mike Wildy, Eric Reddy and Graeme Thompson came on to bring fresh legs to the team. Scans at the hospital revealed Shakey had broken his fingers and Simmonds had injured his shoulder. Both of their respective partners were said to be saddened at these injuries and hope that it won’t affect their performance in the bedroom.
The second half started just like the first half with Aaron Ricketts making several big runs, knocking defenders over for fun. The crash ball 12 is usually a number 8 but he relished his day out in the backs putting in a man of the match performance as well as winning the award for best Ed Sheeran lookalike on the pitch.
Cryptians defensive performance was one of the best all season. Tackle after tackle stopped any Old Boys becoming anything. The back row of Tom Butcher and Adam Smart ensured the tackle count was ever increasing.
Soon followed the 2 minutes of 'The Wildy Show'. Pump put in one of the biggest tackles seen at The Memorial Ground for many years, using himself like a human javelin to cut the Old Boys second row in half. The resulting turnover saw the ball shipped out wide to the backs where centre Dustin Burt linked up well with John Madigan to make good yardage. A penalty under the posts saw McGill opt not to take the points but instead the tap penalty and Mike Wildy took the ball from 5 metres out and crashed against the post with several defenders on him. However the ref ruled that it was no try and Old Boys won the resulting scrum and allowed them to clear their lines.
The final score of the game came through Old Boys when Chris Watson decided suicide rugby was the way forward and attempted to run from his own line with several defenders on him. The resulting scrum saw Old Boys ship the ball out wide and score. The conversion was added.
Overall it was a very good advert for local rugby. The Cryptians defence was technically brilliant and showed a lot of character and some rare aggression not often seen in the Cryptians jersey. It was a big improvement on the last time these two teams played where Old Boys won 53-5.
Next Week Cryptians are home to Dowty in a big league game that could be a crucial decider in who finishes 2nd or 3rd.