Old Tiffinian 2s 24 v 41 Barnes IV
Tiffs lose out to physical Barnes side
After the disappointing result from the previous week, the end of September saw the return of a number of familiar faces to the mighty 2’s; new Captain Dowsett was back to take charge, Fawcett was beginning his latest injury comeback, and the extremely ‘experienced’ combination of Ridgers and Paddy were back to take control of the wings. Optimism was high, and the warm up was an unusually slick and well drilled affair. However, this author is old enough to remember playing Barnes IV previously, and had distant memories of it being full of players who had very promising rugby careers ruined by ‘proper’ careers, unwanted pregnancies, and a strong aversion to training. This was not going to be an easy match.
So it proved with the visitors getting off to a blistering start while displaying the sort of offloading game normally reserved to the hosts.
Uncharacteristically weak first up tackling allowed the visitors to break the line with relative ease, and their experience showed in the way that there was always a supporting runner waiting to take the offload. Tiffs were stunned, and it took an inspirational speech from Dowsett to snap the new team out of their existential funk.
Tiffs struck back. With the return of the Fridge creating some parity in the scrum, and the skipper and vice skipper ruling the lineout, Old Tiffs had a reasonably solid set piece to work off. With your humble correspondent taking a beautiful ball off the top, the pill was spun wide where Ridgers, on his 50th cap, was just about stopped before the line. The ball was swiftly recycled and worked the other way, where the hirsute and venerable Paddy was able to crash over in the corner. Conversion missed. Unfortunately despite remaining camped in the enemy half for a good 10 minutes, Barnes were able to pounce once more and score at the other end.
Half time saw a number of changes. Finbar was persuaded to ditch his ridiculous cap and play some rugby, and Park made his debut on the wing. Tiffs resumed sluggishly, with pressure again not being converted into points. In broken play Barnes were able to use their offloading game to great effect, and further tries followed. In response Tiffs hit back their own slick play; Powell and Prentice were able to marshal the team well, and eventually Lee and Park were able to combine to send the new boy over in the corner – conversion also missed. Tiffs were soon to gain a man advantage when Barnes were forced to remove their ancient and exceedingly square headed loosehead and go uncontested.
What everyone who is reading this report really wants to hear about though is the greatest comeback since Craig David linked up with Big Narstie. The Fawcettasaurus had been eagerly pacing the touchline waiting to be unleashed. Now was the time. With the replacement prop shirt working hard to contain his ample girth, the overgrown toddler waddled into the fray.
The impact was immediate and glorious; crunching tackles, turnovers, and bullocking runs. However Barnes had been awaiting this, and the beefy centre remained well marshalled. Indeed Barnes were to score next. However this seemed to inspire the hosts who played some of the best rugby ever seen on the hallowed turf of Grists. Phase after phase of play sent Barnes reeling back, but frustratingly a lack of clinical finishing stopped Tiffs from overhauling the visitors. Eventually the pressure told, and the puce of face Fawcett was able to crash over twice to make the game tasty again.
Unfortunately the hosts had left themselves too much to do, and a final (uncontested) scrum was called in the middle of the park. With the scores at 24 – 34, the scene was set for Tiffs to snatch a late bonus point (if this league had bonus points). Legs trembling, lungs burning, sphincter twitching, Fawcett steamed onto a beautifully flat ball… and knocked on in the tackle. Ball scooped up, spun wide, Barnes scored under the sticks. Final whistle.
It was an interesting game. Neither side ever really dominated the other, but Barnes were able to convert pressure into points, and were clinical when they had their chances. Old Tiffs were far too passive in Defence; something which training and a few more games ought to help.
Spoors – The reluctant winger was finally allowed to return to his favoured position on the flank where he tackled himself to a standstill hauling down his much larger opponents. Displayed some delightful skill threading through two expertly weighted grubbers in the second half. Eventually forced off by an extremely dubious challenge.
Bardwell – The massively nosed no 8 took on much of the ball carrying duties for the came, and frequently made ground with his mighty fend.
Studdert/Burdess – With the later losing his partner from last season for an even less physically imposing specimen, Barnes were optimistic that their large ball carriers would get plenty of change out of the lightweight centre pairing. It was not to be the case, with the never forgotten words of Morris ‘big bastards can’t run with wi’out their bloody legs!’ never proving truer.
Powell/Prentice – An equally slender pairing in the half back positions, but the younglings combined well displaying flair, cool heads, and lovely hair.
Mom – Banjo – Another large nosed player who stood out. Nicked a few in the scrum with his reversible knees, good darts in the lineout, and ran around the park like a toddler who had been force fed a kilo of smarties and a double espresso. A solid, angry toddler who likes breaking things with his face.
DoD – Fawcett – Might seem harsh given that in his first two minutes on the field he made four tackles (missed one), and got two turnovers, but he did knock the ball on when steaming towards a certain hattrick (which would have made the score 31 – 34) allowing Barnes to score at the other end. Strong performance with the triple pints (sorry Apos).
Final Score:Old Tiffinian 2s 24 v 41 Barnes IV
Tries: McNicholas, Park, Fawcett (2)
Conversions: Prentice (2)