Bumpy pitch, long grass, burnt players !
In the heat of Askern (pop 5434) on a field somewhere in South Yorkshire the Wetherby Bulldogs Under14s battled hard for the win.
If you want to know how hot it felt when playing try running around Furnace Creek in Death Valley California…in 1913 it famously took the record as the hottest ever place on Earth at 56.7degrees C
I suppose the best part of the match was that there were quite a few breaks in defensive line…so at least running created a small amount of breeze for the players !
The first 7 minutes were tense, with no score and possession transferring from Wetherby to Askern 5 times in quick succession. Then with no warning Jonny stood up to be counted, broke through the line and ran on for half the pitch, a quick pass to No 12 and over the line, Tom Fl converted to make it 6-0.
Jo was the next player to make a difference after some solid running at Askern. He took the ball after the third tackle, ran at Askern, punted a bomb towards the sticks and ran like a greyhound. His run was rewarded as the Lions spilt the ball under pressure, Jo gathered it and grounded it between the sticks. Another perfect kick and it was 12-0, thank you very much.
There were some back and forth for the rest of the first half. Finishing 24-4 in the heat, and the players flopped to the ground to grab all the hydration they could put into there withered bodies. No wonder they looked exhausted, some of the Lions definitely wilted in the second half - to be fair they had pushed and pushed and no matter how hard they tackled (and sometimes that was HARD) they couldn’t keep Wetherby down. They finished the water at half-time and the ref seemed to blow the whistle to resume quite early…probably because he could see they were burning in the heat
After the break Jo pushed through for another try, capitalising on some quick thinking from Tom Fl who used his lightning reactions to pick up a dropped ball and run for an age.
The ref had to have a word to calm people down…at one point one of the players let out a rallying call to the team “come on let’s smash em” and the ref quickly shouted to everyone, “yes but make sure you keep it legal”. Very funny
The remaining tries were a blur in the heat haze. With Louie and Callum both scoring for Wetherby as well as others
The final score was 1-0 to the weather, and 46-10 to the Bulldogs