The Match Report mailbag has been filled to bursting this week.
There are the usual ones; several letters from my mum, Mrs Match Reporter snr; legal notices from lawyers for the Sandal parents; offers of help from the British Psychiatric Trust; and numerous warnings about Trade Descriptions. Some are rude and downright offensive, but I have asked my mum to stop writing to me.
But this week there was a veritable forest of other communications packing the postbag. Pat, the postman, complained about the volume, so I said it again quietly, “quit cutting through my garden to get to next door”.
Almost all the extra correspondence this week has been complaints about the tardiness of the match report for last week’s encounters with Wetherby and Skipton. The Match Report office is a hive of industry as extra temporary staff have been taken on to deal with letters and reply individually to each. It was part of the requirements for obtaining the gold charter standard of the Association of Match Reporting and Sport Punditry that we commit to replying individually to every communication within our own lifetime.
But I thought I would take this opportunity to pre-empt those responses with a public explanation of the recent unprofessional slip in the promptness of the reports. You see things have not been easy of late in the Match Report household. Young Match Reporter, Kenneth, only last week declared his intention to break with generations of tradition and not follow a career in match reporting. I was heartbroken! Waffling inanely about sport has been in our family since my Great Great Grandfather, Kenneth, wrote to the Winchester Daily Bugle in 1829, complaining about two boats packed with muscular young men going hell-for-leather along the Thames.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Mrs Match Reporter (jnr) has taken to complaining about the lack of spice in our lives lately. It all started when I cleared out the kitchen cupboards; apparently she uses turmeric in much of her cooking, but how was I to know? Now, the food she serves up to me in the early hours of the morning as I slave away in the editing studio putting the final touches to the match report, is bland and uninspiring - much like the match reports themselves.
And the final straw came last week when the family dog, Rover Reporter, ate the carefully scripted notes that my assistant had penned for the Wetherby fixture. I waited for nature to take its course and when they emerged at the other end they were actually more legible than when they went in! So lucky for you I can still do the report. And if anyone complains “…it’s a load of bulls***…” they’ll nearly be right.
The gold charter standard also insists that professional reporters ‘always make excuses for untimely reports’…no, wait a minute I think it’s ‘never make excuses for untimely reports’. Oh well, too late now.
But here’s this week’s report about the Yarnbury game - on time, precise, factual and interesting…OK, it’s on time…OK, it’s here.
Sandal 61 v 19 Yarnbury
Now the astute reader, and I have been assured that there is one, will recall that in the opening encounter of the season Sandal travelled to Leodensians in Leeds to play a newly merged outfit, Leo’s and Yarnbury. The result was a comprehensive win for Sandal but it was virtually the first time the Leeds lads had played together so they were bound to find it unusual and confusing, to say the least.
Today, however, found them a much more coherent team. They have made sterling progress over the season and have strengths all around the park, with one or two very dangerous players to worry opposing defences.
But in the opening encounters it was Sandal who made the much brighter start, getting quickly into their stride. So quickly, in fact, that the Match Reporter missed the opening try! Not to worry, a small group of Sandal parents were able to fill me in on the details -
‘…er, someone gave it to Alex and he ran a bit and scored’. So, the usual match report quality on that try then.
I wasn’t going to be caught on the hop again, pen was poised and it was a good job because soon after Sandal scored again. This time I saw everything. Someone gave the ball to Ryan and he ran a bit and scored.
Alright, there was a bit more to it than that! Sandal had won a scrum against the head – something they did several times over the half – Matysiak had taken it on but been well stopped by the Yarnbury defence; Edge collected and took it closer, and finally Bolger gathered and piled over.
Yarnbury carried on trying to play their game and pressed into the Sandal 22 but like many teams this season they found themselves up against an impenetrable defence, in which Bolger and Edge were outstanding. A hard tackle created a dropped ball which Henshall seized and drove forward. Quick support secured the ball for Ward to make an incisive break down the left. He was stopped just around halfway but a resultant penalty saw a tap to Kemp catch Yarnbury cold and the second row powered through the remnants of the defence to score.
From the restart Flowers caught the ball and made good ground before Matysiak took up the charge. He shipped to Ward and the winger carried the ball into Yarnbury territory before passing to Bolger. The centre changed the direction and his cross-field run was quick enough to circumvent the visitor’s left-side defence and score out wide.
Like Gavin Henson, Sandal were now throwing everything at the visitors.
A Sandal scrum 5 metres in by the Yarnbury 22 gave Cook the chance to pop a short pass to Ward who had run a great angle to slice through the defence and over by the posts. And from the restart Matysiak gathered and returned the ball deep into the Yarnbury half he was well tackled. But the prop offloaded a superbly timed pass to Bolger who was rewarded for his excellent supporting run with a try under the posts.
Four fine conversions from Fox and one by Rowley left the half-time score at 40 points to nil.
The second half started in a similar fashion. Bolger made a huge tackle; Cook seized the ball and made ground before bringing in Edge, and when the ball moved to Bolger and then Moulson the winger had the pace to outstrip the stretched defence and cross on the right.
Things were looking bleak for the visitors, but this new Yarnbury side were not about to concede defeat so easily. In a Lancaster-like turnaround of fortunes, they came back into the game. Maybe Sandal became less fluent as Coach Reynolds used a large number of replacements, or maybe Sandal were just stunned that the RFU top brass had finally made a correct decision but whatever the reason, Yarnbury exploited it well and scored three tries in succession.
The first was a super kick through and chase by Max Desenta who had the pace and strength to kick again and catch it to score.
The second was from a Sandal lineout a few metres out which the home side lost and in the scramble the Yarnbury forward piled over.
And Desenta scored another fine try when he gathered a rather pointless Sandal kick and ran it back round the wide defence.
The exciting Yarnbury centre could have had a hat-trick had it not been for an astounding tap tackle by Bolger who caught his opposite number after a long chase just when it looked like the Yarnbury speedster was clear again to score.
But to their credit Sandal’s new line-up finally settled into the game and came back strongly at Yarnbury, finishing the game on top with two excellent tries of their own.
Firstly, Moulson made a good run, cut back inside where Kemp was waiting to collect the pass and surge through the heart of the defence to score. And then unfortunately for Yarnbury having won a scrum against the head they dropped the ball and were punished by Ward who kicked forward, gathered superbly and sprinted clear from 40 metres.
Another Fox conversion and two more from Rowley left the final score at 61 points to 19, but despite the margin it had been an excellent game of rugby in which Yarnbury played a full part. They kept playing the game with pace and strength and did not let their heads go down. This paid dividends in the middle of the second half when they used their commitment to capitalise on Sandal’s lull.
But of course full credit to the Sandal players as well for producing another devastating display. Except for the little wobble as the players got into the pace of the game, the whole team played their part in producing the type of rugby which is both exciting to watch and extremely effective.
And that’s it for this week. If you have any comments about this report or its timeliness please keep them to yourselves, I have had to let the temporary staff go due to an unsavoury incident involving bubble-wrap and a banana…how was I to know they were watching!
Sandal squad: Moulson, Kemp, Cook, Reynolds, Edge, Matysiak, Henshall, Fawkes, Hampson, Ward, Bolger, Alderton, Fox, Wilson, Rowley, Stanley, Thompson, Flowers, Chowdhery, Feeney, E. Davey, Brady, Horsfield, Coopey.