National Cup; Matson made to look very ordinary in the mud! Redingensians 15 - 17 Matson.
Having reached to last 32 in England by finishing second in the OBB league, a home draw pitched us against the top U17 side in Gloucester, Matson RFC. This was not going to be a match for the faint hearted!
The rain had been lashing all morning, and as the Matson coach carrying player and supporters arrived, they we welcomed with 20 minutes of blizzard conditions. Standing water everywhere. Thankfully we got the go ahead for the match.
The old adage suggests that forwards decide who wins a match and backs by how many. At this level there is undoubtedly the added ingredient of mental attitude. Today, that's something that the home players got spot on.
The forwards took it to Matson in the early exchanges, applying pressure from the kick off. Progressing steadily up the park, scooping low and hard until Captain Wareham resumed where he left off last week by scoring the opening try as he barged over from close quarters. Great start. 4 minutes gone.
A further mental blow was struck by the smaller Rams pack as they took the first scrum against the head. Coach Bloomfield bristled with pride. Having nicked the ball, full back Leicester burst up field making it into the opposition 22 before finally being tackled. Territorially it was nip and tuck for the next 15 minutes but with 'Ensians forcing errors out of the opposition as they hustled and harried them at every juncture. Matson finally put a rolling maul into action and trundled 25 metres to score. Unconverted.
From the re-start Rams continued to harry, rucking for all they were worth. Scrum half Richardson charged down an attempted clearance kick just inside the 22, followed up and scored. 10 - 5. Defensively 'Ensians were hot, hot , hot, with Oliver, Somers and Baker tackling for all they were worth.Cronin made several telling forays into enemy territory. With half time looming George, Dolton, Holt, Jones, Sharp and Stevens put together a series of text book scoops. Wareham had the final say as he plunged over the whitewash.
Half time 15 - 5 and the visitors were rattled. Jelly babies were consumed and mud scraped out the eyes.... there was a long tough second half afoot!
With 7 minutes gone another rolling maul resulted in a try to Matson 15 - 10.
Richardson was floored with a high tackle and the referee's patience at the visitors indiscipline was finally tested to breaking point and a yellow card was shown.
The remainder of the match was largely played in the home sides half. Sterling defence, but whatever the home side tried we just couldn't get the ball into the other half. Nail biting stuff, tackle after tackle, 100% commitment. With 31 minutes gone the massive rearguard action was finally breached and the visitors scored under the posts to make it 15 - 15. The conversion was made. For the first time in the match, and with the seconds ticking away, Matson were in front.
Frustratingly the last play was called early and suddenly it was all over.
This had been a massive match and Ram's attitude cannot be faulted. The visitors relief was evident with the huge cheer that went up at the final whistle.
Cronin took the man of the match award, but this was very much a SQUAD performance; everyone tackled, everyone took the ball on with confidence, everyone supported each other well.... stirring, heart warming stuff.
Well done to both sides that put on an entertaining match in very wet, cold conditions. Huge thanks to all the non-playing support; it was great to see so many "old" friends again.