Paviors played hosts to Doncaster for what has traditionally been a closely-fought fixture. The overnight rain meant that the ball would be wet but the morning itself was dry and bright. Missing some key forwards, Paviors knew that it would be a tough job to match Doncaster.
As tradition dictates, Paviors started the game in slumber-mode and it was not long before Doncaster took the lead, running through half-a-dozen half-hearted tackles (and some which were not even half-hearted) to score the opening try. Things looked little better after the re-start, Doncaster continuing to break tackles almost at will, and the signs were ominous.
However, led by Ben A and Tom, the Paviors forwards began to come to grips with their opposite numbers and win some possession in the mauls. The ball was coming too slowly for the backs to have space to use it but Paviors were at least holding their own in the rucks and mauls and the tackling improved, denying Doncaster attacks of their own. Neither side was able to make much headway and the match was becoming bogged down in the middle of the pitch. Paviors did try to move the ball wide for runs by Cameron and Bendy, but neither was able to make the crucial break against well-organised Doncaster defending.
Eventually, Ben A was able to take a short pass from the base of a ruck and force his way towards the line, stretching out to ground the ball for the equalizing try.
With neither side able to penetrate the defence of the other, Doncaster resorted to kicking for territory and it immediately paid dividends for them when their chasers managed to isolate full-back Harry B and turn the ball over for a second try.
Paviors came roaring back and started to make inroads through powerful running from the forwards, particularly Alistair and Tom. The majority of the play was now in the Doncaster half and Paviors were battering at the defence but unable to break through until Tom took the ball and dragged what seemed like half the Doncaster pack to the line to level the scores again.
Still in the ascendancy, Paviors were quickly back in the Doncaster half and good driving from the Paviors forwards took the ball close enough for Ben A to plunge over for his second try and the lead.
The half ended with a Doncaster equaliser from another kick ahead, some dithering in the Paviors defence, a turn-over and a Doncaster forward breaking tackles to score with the last play.
Half time: Paviors 15 â€“ Doncaster 15
The stalemate returned, neither side able to penetrate in the backs, and the forward battle becoming more and more attritional. The Paviors pack was standing up to a powerful Doncaster unit, Ben B in the unaccustomed position of prop playing a sturdy part. Equally, the Paviors backs had stiffened up their tackling, Cameron and Danny setting the example as ever, an example followed by the others, two important tackles by Micha sticking in the mind. Jack C persistently wrapped up the ball in the contact area, winning the put-in at a succession of scrums.
Doncaster tried the kick-chase again but Harry B, having learned from his first half experience, ran the ball back ferociously, dipping his should into the contact to bowl over his opponent and set up a position for the Paviors forwards. That was the last time Doncaster used that tactic!
Paviors were now having the better of the mauls and gaining ground. Ben A was able to escape with the ball and score his hat-trick, despite the efforts of several Doncaster defenders.
Now in the lead, Paviors looked the stronger side and were pushing home their adavantage in the scrums. In the final play of the match, a solid scrum followed by a well-timed pass from Alex put Cameron through the first line of defence and he stepped the full-back on his way to the line.
Final score: Paviors 25 â€“ Doncaster 15
A year ago, facing Doncaster without the likes of Isaac, Stone and Harry K would have been too daunting to contemplate. To beat them without those three is testimony to the improvement in the squad in general, the importance of the recent recruits, and a burgeoning team-spirit. Three weeks from NLD qualifiers, the signs are promising that the full Paviors squad will be somewhere on a scale between competitive and frightening.
Thanks, of course, to Doncaster who were always in the game and played a tough match in the right spirit. Another enjoyable morning!