Old Tiffinians 2nd XV 26 V 24 Old Emanuel 2nd XV
Tiffs find safety in numbers
Old Tiffinians 2nds arrived at Grists in great numbers for their match against local rivals Old Emanuel 2nds on Saturday 4th Noevmber. The squad size, swollen to an outrageous 26, was no doubt inflated by the promise of Ladies arriving later for the club's Ladies Day.
Messrs Dowsett and Sedgers, resembling Sideshow Mel and Bob with their fluffy tops and sumptuous elocution, got to work organising the troops and each took a turn to convince Pritch that he didn’t have to get sinbinned in every game. At one stage during the warm up, a huge man with tremendous thighs named Rhys emerged from the trees and said he was playing for us - this made everyone feel better. OE were far superior in size to Tiffs and cast ravenous eyes over the plethora of small men that gathered at the other end of the field. Tiffs felt confident however, and the game plan was simple: listen to Andy Stapes and Ali Watkins and everything would be okay.
OE’s made Tiffin wait for an age to kick off as they went from one huddle to another to discuss how they would eat us. This angered the returning Mackay no end and he unleashed his fury by using his face to tackle the unsuspecting OE receiver from kick off and earning a horrible black eye. The ball was eventually knocked on resulting in a steady scrum and first glimpse of the ball for Watto who duly placed a delightful pass to the onrushing Studdert. Such was the quality of the pass and line taken by the young centre that he easily finished under the posts. Conversion converted. 7-0.
From the restart, the problems at set pieces that would plague Tiffs for the rest of the day started to emerge. While the Tiffs forwards had power, the balance of the pack was perhaps slightly wayward with the front row pairing of Fridge and Pritch seeing the largest and smallest members of the club attempt to hold on to one another. Oscar Hather, propping on the other side, somewhat resembles a hybrid of the two…in any case the OE pack was obviously very used to each other and the ball was turned over at the scrum, eventually leading to the OE’s winger scoring in the corner. Conversion missed.
As the first half wore on, the OT’s backs showed incredible patience with their lumbering forwards as OE dominated at both the lineout and scrum. Even so, Josh Kim had an extremely good half at open side, catching and tackling everything that came his way. When we did manage to secure the ball for Stapes and co. we broke the line with ease - young Prento and Studdert feeding off juicy passes from Watto. Even Big Sweeney, having seen some familiar Ugg boots on the touchline, ran a few hard lines and made a tackle before deciding he better take himself off and go liaise with said Ugg boot wearer directly. Full back Rory did well to get on the end of a delicate chip from Watkins before deciding to throw the ball behind him rather than score. Luckily, one particularly incisive move saw the bullish Pedro receive the ball wide on the oppo 22 before powering over with around 3 OEs trying and failing to push him into touch. Conversion missed.
OEs grew frustrated and began giving away lots of silly penalties but with no joy at the lineout, Watto tried his luck from some distance out and got one as the half drew to a close. With Tiffin in a comfortable position at 18-5, the entire back line bar Ali was replaced with at least 2 debuts in the mix. Changes upfront also saw the return of Will Brown as well as the introduction of the mysterious Rhys…
Intense triathlon training for Brown during his time off has made it even easier to fling him around at the lineout, resulting in steadier ball for the backs during the second half. However, Hather took on Pritch’s role and got a yellow for a high hit on their 10 early on in the second half, which resulted in a period of sustained pressure from Emmanuel. Despite brave defending from new faces Frank ‘JJ’ and Sam Marsden, OEs managed two tries without reply as darkness descended over Grists and trepidation creept into the minds of the 2s. The game entered the last 10 minutes delicately poised at 18- 19.
Tiffs dug deep, encouraged by the incredible roars carrying over from the 1s pitch, and drove forward. Stefan, now a veteran of the 2s, made a number of good breaks deep into opposition territory, backed up by the floppy haired McConnell. OEs managed to quickly turnover possession and threatened to break before Apos decided to try his luck and stick his hands in (definite penalty). Unseen by the ref, Apos flung the ball back to Watto who struck one of the sweetest drop goals you will ever see from the half way line. 21-19.
The resulting kick off was left to bounce along the ground by Watkins, hoping it would trickle over the dead ball line. An onrushing oppo centre had other ideas and dived keenly to convert, causing Ali to tap it out of play with his boot. The ref awarded a try despite being 20+ yards away; earning Ali both the MoM and DoD award in approximately 1 minute of play. Conversion missed.
Ever increasing jubilance emanating from the 1s pitch spurned the 2s on as they desperately tried to grab the win they deserved and impress the women on the touch line who had grown significantly in number. NB. Apos’ gf had been having a jolly old time watching the 1s, remarking that she thought I was playing well ‘although you looked quite dark’- she had in fact been cheering on Kumara.
The kick off was chased well and the 2s managed to build steady phases before the ball fell to the impressive Matt Radley, who beat 3 defenders to send the 2s into delirium with 2 minutes left. The opposition were awarded a penalty as last play was called. Despite being only 2 points down they went for the corner and a fantastic steal from Graham Wilson, who had come on in the front row, allowed the ball to be safely booted in to touch. Tiffs winning 26-24.
All in all a wonderful game of rugby that should have resulted in an easy win for Tiffs had the forwards been more clinical in executing their set piece. The new faces played extremely well and we hope to see them back available for the 2s more regularly. A few beers were had after and Apos finished a respectable 6th place in the big slaps game, the highest 2s finisher.
Final Score - Old Tiffinians 2nd XV 26 V 24 Old Emanuel 2nd XV
Mom and DoD - Watkins
Tries - Pedro, Studdert, Radley
Conversions - Watkins (2)
Penalty - Watkins
Drop Goal - Watkins
Match Report by George Apostolides