Old Mids Vets 28 - PJF Vets 19
Friday night saw the vets return to action for the first time this season under the lights at Lime Meadow Avenue against local rivals Purley John Fisher.
As the Mids gathered for the game they were soon disarrayed due to the late withdrawal of talisman and inspirational leader Mark Macaskill due to his son being rushed to hospital with appendicitis. Dan Crouch however stepped up to the plate to take over the captains armband and rally the troops ready for battle.
Dan's first task was to coax Mark Butterworth out of the changing room that he had locked himself in upon hearing that Garvey was back in the country for the game. Once Mark was convinced it was Paddy and not Sean he was out on the pitch with his fellow warriors and the game was able to start.
From the first scrum Mids forwards realised this was not going to be an easy game as the Purley John Fisher pack marshalled by current Young Mids U8 coach Jim Brannigan, playing his first game in 6 years, took control.
The first casualty of the night then came in the form of Jon Riches, one of four Old Whits in our squad, who succumbed to a reoccurrence of an achilles injury as his ankle was stamped on in a maul but at least he managed to win a turn over before hobbling off.
The Mids scrum may have struggled but their line out was dominant with debutant hooker Dan Silvester able to find his man at will. It was from a line out in the PJF 22 that Mids scored the first try of the game. The ball was recycled via a succession of forward carries before play was reversed back towards where the line out originally occurred to find Laurence Oliver who was still stood on the exact same spot watching the rest of his pack work hard and he was left with an easy walk in! Dan Crouch converted.
Shortly after the first try Mids soon found themselves two tries to the good as Alan Cook broke from his own 22 and sprinted the length of the pitch score under the posts. The PJF crowd were far from impressed with the show boating he showed as if he had jogged he would have managed to score by sprinting he was just rubbing it in that he was by far the fastest player on the pitch. Dan Crouch converted.
As Mids continued to attack, PJF capitalised on any mistakes the Mids made and they created a couple of break away chances of their own. One in particular looked like being a certain try as their player found himself one on one with Peter Cook. Cookie was like a rabbit in headlights and in his shear panic as he tried his best to get out of the way he feel over his own feet and somehow took out the oncoming player to the amazement of the whole crowd!
Mids former 1st XV coach, Chris Callaway, who was playing at 8 for PJF had a number of good carries and was proving to be a real physical force for the Mids defence however his decision to try to clear his line with his big size 12s presented Mids with the opportunity to score their third try as his sliced clearance was gathered by the Mids and spun wide for Alan Cook who finished well in the corner.
Before the half was up Alan Cook looked like scoring again however instead of coming away with his hat-trick he came away with a nasty cut to his head, not much of a consolation! However this did enable Mids to bring on the enigmatic Paul Kember. PK was soon making a nuisance of himself and leading the PJF on a merry dance! (This led to James Orchard declaring "I’d forgotten it was impossible to run a support line for PK").
As the half came to a close confusion in the Mids line out in their own 22 enable PJF to get on the score sheet and with the conversion meant the half time score was 19-7 to Mids.
Mids made a number of changes at half time including taking off Mark Handley who had been a dominant force all game as well as Dom Plumb as coach Andy Edwards wanted to wrap both players in cotton wall for the 1st XV cup game the following day! As part of the changes there was an Old Mids Vets debut for Old Whit, Neville Moriarty.
PJF started the second half as they finished the first half and with their forwards working tirelessly they continued to punch holes in the Mids defence and broke the line on two occasions one of which was converted to square the score at 19-19!
It was at this point that Chris Willson gave Andy Edwards a Chinese burn and forced him to reintroduce Mark Handley! This lifted the Mids team and it was now the Mid forwards who were marching the PJF pack backwards. Ian Collins narrowly avoided going in to touch and scored to put Mids back in to a 24-19 lead.
With a number a players having their first outing in a while a number were not accustomed to the new interpretation at the high tackle and this probably explained why the referee judged that were so many high tackles in the game although surely there was no need for PK to squeal and roll around like a footballer!
PK did make a miraculous recovery but it was Bryn Hodges who true to form kept up his reputation of being the glass man and succumbed to injury around the hour mark.
Mids wrapped up the game with two further tries, one from Mark Butterworth and the other from Man of the Match, Mark Handley, both of which were converted by Dan Crouch. Butterworth's try was from a succession of pick and goes whereas Handley's try was off of a quick tap penalty with the ball being spun out to him before PJF had a chance to set their defence.
Squad - Dom Plumb, Dan Silvester, Russell Jones, Laurence Oliver, Mark Handley, Jon Riches, Bryn Hodges, Mark Butterworth, Rowan Newman, Dan Crouch, Alan Cook, Patrick Garvey, James Orchard, Peter Cook, Les Todd, Stef Criscuolo, Ian Collins, Mike Frith, Paul Kember, Neville Moriarty.