The Great Escape?
By Mark Purvis
Plucky Jenny Laners travel to Stalag Luft Cookridge where Kommandant Adam Faulkner attempts to foil Baildon's "Great Escape" from Yorkshire Three's relegation zone
Pomp, pomp, pomp; pomp-pa, pomp, pomp, pomp. Da da, da-dah der da da, da der da der da der da der da-dah. That bloody tune had been going through my head all Friday night and Saturday morning. I was sketchy on the film's character names, but fortunately Tracey and Andy Greaves were at the touch line to augment my notes.
Baildon kicked off down the slope and were soon camped on the Mods try line courtesy of a Tom Parnell break. Luke Strauss was denied, but Mods could not get an exit. Tom Craven got over the ball and won a penalty when Mods failed to release. First blood Baildon through the boot of Jake Duxbury. (0-3)
Ross Cordingley caught cleanly from the restart and set up good second phase ball. The Baildon escape committee bungled and knocked on, compounding their error by an offside player picking up the spilled ball. This was clearly going to be a nail biting encounter as Mods cancelled Baildon's early lead with a successful kick. (3-3)
Baildon pegged Mods back and when Mods tried to run the ball out of defence, Josh Strauss stole the ball in the tackle. It reminded me of that time in the film "The Great Escape" where the James Garner character nickname "the scrounger" comes up with something unexpected but important. Mods came off their feet at the next ruck and Jake Duxbury once more took the points. (3-6)
Baildon had the nudge at scrum time and were controlling their own line out ball. Baildon were also breaking first tackles. Mods had a good scramble defence, also kicked well and were not afraid to run the ball from deep behind the gain line.
When Baildon kept it simple, they played in the right parts of the field. A Phil Wilson catch, Jake Duxbury boot, Josh Strauss chase and rip saw Baildon back on the attack. Although Baildon lost possession, at a Mods scrum the ball was taken against the head. Paul MacNamara fed Jake Duxbury who turned defenders with a grubber kick. Mods could only take the ball back over their own try line for a Baildon 5 metre attacking scrum. With his pack marching towards the try line James O'Ryan saw a gap and darted over. (3-11)
Baildon won a scrum penalty when Mods could not hold the push and the ball was kicked to the corner. Baildon won the line out and unleashed waves of attacks. Nicky Lister was nearly through. Adam Hewitt had a strong carry. Baildon won another penalty and kicked to the opposite corner. Again the line out was won, there appeared to be a massive overlap on the right, but the forwards took route one with a driving maul. The maul was held up just short of the try line. It reminded of that time in the film "The Great Escape" where they dig a tunnel, but it comes up just short of the safety of the cover in the woods.
I don't know what happened next, my notes just say "Harrison". I am assuming that Harrison Strauss did what Harrison Strauss does and won a turnover.
Baildon indiscipline let Mods of the hook and then gave them a penalty shot at goal to narrow the lead. (6-11)
The half ended as it had started, with an all out assault on Mods' try line. Nicky Lister, then Andy Magee, then Tom Stanley, then Jake Duxbury, then Harrison Strauss and finally Phil Wilson were denied by great Mods' defence who looked relieved at the half time whistle. (6-11 HT)
A five point margin having to play up the slope. It didn't seem enough. Dave Duxbury, very much like the David Attenborough character "Big X" in that film, "The Great Escape" masterminded Baildon's strategy for the second half ".....we will dig three tunnels, named Tom, Dick and Harry.." was all I caught.
It was unclear whether Baildon would need strategy when not once, but twice, Old Mods players attempted to play a ball in front of their own kicker to gift cheap, coach killer penalties. Early in the second half however Baildon struggled to capitalise and, as they had been threatening to do, Mods cut through Baildon defence in broken play to score. (11-11)
Big X thought that there was a hint of a forward pass in the move, but the score stood.
During the try scoring move a despairing tackle from Nick Lister was high, a yellow card was shown for Lister to spend ten minutes in "The Cooler".
Lister was handed his baseball glove to spend the entire ten minutes in the cooler repeatedly bouncing a baseball off the cooler wall. It very much reminded me of that film "The Great Escape" where the Steve McQueen character Virgil "The Cooler King" Hilts passes his time in the cooler in very much the same way. Spooky!
In the ten minutes that Baildon were down to 14 men Baildon applied the pressure winning a penalty and taking the points through Jake Duxbury's boot, not once but twice. (11-14) (11-17)
When Tom Stanley won a penalty by getting over the ball in the break down, it looked like Baildon would be back on the attack. However the penalty was reversed when a Baildon player attempted to speak to the referee. It very much reminded me of something that happened in that film "The Great Escape" where the British escapee does the hard work; presenting impeccably forged papers to the Gestapo officer and speaking fluent German...only for the officer to say in broken English "Haf ze nice day" and the British escapee replying "why, thanks awfully my jolly good fellow" whilst completely forgetting that he is supposed to be impersonating a German soldier. Careless. Stupid. Very stupid.
Baildon were under the cosh with the scrum now creaking and leaking. Credit to the Jenny Laners, the defence held firm. It was Tom Stanley again who won the vital penalty at the breakdown, relieving the pressure.
Dan Cookson came on and made an impact with two breaks, but the Mods scramble was good. Harrison Strauss had a chance and Jake Duxbury was screaming into the corner, but the last defender managed to force a foot into touch.
Mods managed one more excursion into the Baildon half and won a penalty, but the kick was wide.
Aggressive Baildon defence forced a knock on and at the scrummage the Mod's front row popped up for a Baildon scrum penalty. From the half way line Jake Duxbury lined the ball up for a shot at goal.
You know that film, "The Great Escape"? The Steve McQueen character attempts to clear the barbed wire fence. He clears the first fence but fails to clear the larger second fence and is left dangling in the barbed wire. Well Duxbury struck the ball clean and true. Unlike McQueen's motorbike, the ball sailed over the crossbar with room to spare. In the distance I swear I could hear the sound of a brass band playing "Da da, da-dah der da da, da der da der da der da der da-dah" (11-20 FT)
Thanks to our match officials and both sets of supporters.
A special shout to Chris Williams and Terry Slocombe for racing onto the pitch for a possible serious head injury to a Mods player. Terry's reward was a rude yell from a Mod's supporter for failing to control his dog. It's OK Terry, I had a similar telling off last year with Rufus. It was like the time in that film "The Great Escape". They took me out for a drive in a truck, gave me a break to stretch my legs, then uncovered a machine gun.....
A massive thanks to Old Mods. They must hear it lots, but they asked questions to which we had no answer at times. It is a mystery why they are at the bottom of the table when they can play with such intensity, accuracy, endeavour and pride. We've all been there: had times where the rub of the green has gone against us or we have hit a bad patch and developed a losing habit. Baildon perhaps know this more than most.