Our first game at home for 2010, and our first loss.
Quite simply, despite all the pre-match talk of teaching our newly-promoted opposition a tough rugby lesson, and making Hinksey the fortress it was last season, our performance wasn’t good enough.
It didn’t look that way at the start however. Despite a scrappy and frantic exchange of turnovers and knock-ons in the first 20, it was quickly clear that – even with a re-jigged back line (Andrea making a debut at 12, Adrian moving to 13 and Ian at 15) – we had the speed and strength to beat the opposition out-wide. With a series of constant breaks made in the outside channels, all that lacked was a clinical finish. And when Brad eventually did canter over the line on the right, the referee (who was consistently strict on flat passing all game) called us back for a forward pass.
With the game still scoreless after 20 minutes, it then turned dramatically against the Quins. A club only 2 years old they may have been, but Princes Risborough were both organised and committed in the loose and hard running in the backs, despite handling the ball fairly poorly.
As their large pack began to rumble and provide quick ball, a pair of large centres exposed an unusually poor defensive press in midfield on numerous occasions. That, coupled with generally weak first-up tackling throughout led to huge amounts of pressure built on our line and then, a penalty and two tries in quick succession.
Even after a calm and collected half time talk, things very nearly got worse. Starved of line out ball, and with a range of missed touch-kicks from myself, PR continued to build the pressure and Quins barely managed to escape their 22 for the first 30 minutes.
Facing the first home whitewash in years, our forwards skill finally came to bear with superb rolling maul try, followed just minutes later by a second for Ian when PR conspired to fumble a line out over their try line. With Martin converting both from near the touchline, there was just one point in the game with minutes left on the clock.
Perhaps it was nerves or a lack of energy after defending for so long in the game, but Quins were never to trouble PR again, and agonisingly, it was the opposition that stole a last minute try on the counter attack to rob the losing bonus point from our grasp.
To think we deserved to win however, would do a big disservice to the opposition. A lack of dynamism in the rucks and poor tackling starved Quins of both possession and territory all game - and that was the game breaker.
It wasn’t all negative however. When we did have the ball, we showed typical inventiveness and speed, while the scrum was once again rock-solid – turning PR over on more than one occasion.
Plenty to consider then, before next week’s big clash with newly relegated High Wycombe 2s.
Man of the match: Scott Hastie for an awesome scrummaging performance