This occasion was no different, but unfortunately we came out on the losing side of the scoreline. Despite the usual disruption caused by losing a few players to replace injured members of the teams above, we still managed to arrive with a full team, 4 subs and a throng of enthusiastic supporters. We showed our gratitude to the loyal fans and hopefully repaid their loyalty by putting on a committed display against a strong Bromyard team which was bolstered by a number of talented and pacey colts. The game was in the balance and could’ve gone either way until the bitter end and we were certainly unlucky not to get ourselves on the scoreboard.
Our pre-match concerns about having to play without a specialist blindside flanker were alleviated by the arrival of a new recruit – Luke Aldington – who had phoned only a couple of hours before the match to announce his availability, having played for Evesham last year. He played at lock which allowed us to move Adam Law
to the flank. We were optimistic that the warm sunny conditions and firm pitch would allow us to take full advantage of the efforts put in by the team at training over the last couple of weeks (17 third team players were at training on Tuesday night which must be a record) and the pre-match warm up was encouraging.
However, the first quarter of the match saw us under a lot of pressure and struggling to gain any possession or continuity. It was not surprising that after 15 minutes or so a driving maul by Bromyard led to a try around the fringes which was converted. During the next quarter we fought hard to get even but were thwarted mainly by our own lack of composure. At times we appeared to have at least 10 captains on the pitch, all of whom had different ideas of what we should do, We also provided 15 additional referees that all felt they knew much better than the man with the whistle, who actually had a good match and tried to let the game flow . The disruption and frustration from moaning at the referee didn’t help our cause and certainly ensured that 50:50 decisions went the other way, depriving us of valuable possession and territory. Also, the bickering with each other was counter- productive and resulted in a number of lapses in concentration which spoilt potential attacking opportunities and territorial gains.
This came to a head when one of our players was sin-binned for a dangerous charge into a maul as we tried to attack the opposition line with just a minute of the first half to go, but even prior to that, a hasty tap and go in front of the posts squandered 3 points and another kickable penalty a few minutes later unfortunately drifted wide. We could easily have turned round at 7:6, on the ascendency and with all 15 on the park instead of 7:0 down, having failed to turn pressure into points and temporarily with only 14 men.
Fortunately for the second half we pulled ourselves together. Having to play with a man down meant that we had to up our effort leaving us with little energy to moan and whinge. I think there were a number of points at which several members of the team were quite literally blowing out of their rear ends and didn’t have the capacity to breathe let alone argue. The tackling was simply immense. It is perhaps unfair to single out individuals but an awesome tackle by Andy Wyatt who came off the bench onto the wing following a hamstring injury to the silver fox (Dave Webb
) seemed to galvanise the team with really ferocious and high quality turnover tackles being made by Bob Lang
, Carl Phillips, Rob Swinnerton, Adam Llewellyn
and Adam Sharpels (who replaced Adam Llewellyn
) in the second half. In addition, the captain Steve King
tackled with conviction throughout and new boy Luke not only made his presence felt with his close quarter defence but also got about the park to put in some great cover tackles.
In addition to the tacking, the tight scrimmaging was also very impressive. We took a number of Bromyard put-ins against the head. Sadly, we could not quite get ourselves on top and with about 10 minutes to go, yet another disrupted Bromyard scrum lead to quick thinking and improvisation from the home team, who worked the ball quickly down the back-line managing to score out wide, arguably against the flow of play. We then fought bravely to at least get on the scoreboard and a couple of exceptional kicks for touch by Ben Hyde eventually got us to within 10 metres of the Bromyard line. We were perhaps missing just that last couple of percent of accuracy and fitness and were extremely unlucky not to find a way to cross the line. Instead, after an initial “dummy run”, Bromyard were able to clear to touch and sealed a deserved victory.
It appeared that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the match. The effort and commitment in the second half was out of the top drawer, and despite the loss, we could all feel proud of our performance. No doubt everyone is looking forward to next week’s match, which according to the fixtures list is against Bournville away.
James Goodman3rd XV Captain
Andy Wyatt, Adam Sharpels, Nick Harvey