Friday night saw the first Hippos home game of the season in the rematch with DMP Antiquarians, Hippos being victorious last month at their place.
DMP travelled even though they were struggling for numbers and just before kick off they had mustered 11 bodies. Luckily, the Hippos were out in large numbers and 4 volunteers donned a blue shirt instead of green and white. I think they were pleased when they saw the 2 big lads, Coully and Rich Foster plus the 2 other big lads, Dan Youdale and Phil Hall appear to bolster their numbers.
DMP kicked off towards the club house and the Hippos did not deal too well with it allowing them to pile some early pressure on, however they ended up knocking on and the first scrum went to the Hippos. With a very strong forward pack, quick ball was secured and the Hippos were suddenly on the front foot, lead by a rampaging Ste Hutch who put in a cheeky back handed offload to Jonny Durnion who went in for the first try of the night. Dave Armstrong, despite turning up early to hone his kicking skills was wide with the conversion. 5 – 0
That early try gave the boys some confidence and the ball was been thrown about at every opportunity, however when Gav Lumley threw the biggest wanger of the night he managed to sail it straight over Pete Stentiford’s head which caused panic in our 22 leading to a knock on by Hutchy.
We managed to win the ball back and a good clearance kick from Dave Armstrong was chased very well by Nigel Burke who forced a knock on by the scrambled defence to relieve the pressure. More good work by the pack got us quick ball and good, simple hands along the back line put Nigel away down the left wing, where he was forced into touch.
DMP won their line and tried to clear their lines but the ball was charged down by Rob Hamer, back in the starting line up after missing the last game, but the pressure was eased for DMP when Batesy was penalised for a high tackle.
There was a period of scrappy play from both sides but DMP were then pinged for being offside in the backs and some quick thinking from Andy Evans at scrum half, also back after missing the last game, took the tap and scorched away to put Gav Lumley in for the second try of the night. Again, the conversion was missed. Practice I hear you say? 10 – 0
Just when we thought it might get a bit easier, we put ourselves straight under pressure from the kick off with a forward pass giving DMP a scrum just outside our 22 where we gave away a penalty and it was their turn to take a quick tap and force their way deep into our 22. Some good play by their forwards recycled the ball for a few phases before sending Coully crashing over for them. Now we know what other teams have to try and stop and it isn’t easy!! Missed conversation. 10 – 5
That score got DMP well into the game and they dominated possession and more good pressure from their pack resulted in another penalty conceded and yet another quick tap saw Big Fozzy (Rich) charge over for them. Missed conversion again, not a good night for the kickers. 10 – 10
Shortly after the restart, the Hippos won a penalty which was, for a change, kicked to touch on their 22 metre line and the resulting line out was won well by Paul Shep (the lightest option to lift amongst the heavyweight pack) and the ball was passed along the back line well until Nigel knocked on out wide. DMP won their own scrum but knocked on also giving us a scrum which was won giving quick ball out to Gav coming into the line to go over for his 2nd and our 3rd try. This time the practice had paid off and Dave slotted the extras. 17 – 10
Their kick off was caught by Paul Shep who linked well with Jonny Durnion who put in a lovely inside pass to Andy Evans and it looked like we were away again, however the subsequent pass from Andy to Hutchy was deemed forward, much to the crowd’s dismay.
Approaching half time, it was clear that a few players from both sides were tiring and looking forward to a well earned rest, however Andy Evans was not one of them and he raced away from the base of another well won scrum and sent a bullet pass out wide to the winger, who was nowhere near and the ball sailed straight into touch!
Mowden then went on the offensive and looked like they were going to close the gap just before the break, however great defence from Pete Stentiford kept them at bay.
A minute before half time saw the most bizarre replacement ever, Spencer Sutton shouting he needed to come off ………. Everyone wondering how and when he got injured without us realising on the sideline but no, he just needed a number 2!!!!
Half time – Hippos 17 DMP 10
With pressure to protect 5 of the Hippos who were due to be in action for either the Lions or 3TM on Saturday afternoon, a raft of changes were made at the break.
The second half saw Little Fozzy (Mike), who had been quiet in the first half, go on a typical, rampaging run to make good yardage before offloading to Gav, who stepped inside the outside defence to finish well for his hat trick. Dave was successful again with the extras. 24 – 10
The tired legs started to show for DMP with their limitations on resting lads and it started to show with the Hippos taking the opportunity to run from anywhere. Pete Stentiford made a great break from his own 22 and stepped Dan Youdale every which way as he attempted to stop him. It looked like it was going to be the try of the night until for some reason, best known only to him, Pete tried to offload when he had a free run in and the ball was spilled to floor and knocked on by Mo.
It gave DMP a lift and they got back into our half and pressured but play became a bit scrappy from both sides. Paul Shep got his hands on the ball and found some space to force play into their half. He offloaded to Hutchy who should also have scored but tried another back handed pass which was nowhere near the same quality as the first one and again, the ball was spilled to floor. Luckily for Hutchy the ball was deemed to have gone backwards and was picked up well by Mark Irvine who strolled over to score on debut. Dave had been rested by now due to his old man ankles so Pete took over the kicking duties and duly obliged to make it 31 – 10
Again, the Hippos were guilty of thinking things were just going to happen which was just enough to allow DMP a foothold back into the game. They may have been tiring but they had some quality on show and they scored their third try of the night. 31 – 15
The Hippos skipper for the night, Dave Robbo had succumbed to injury but he was back on to give a few words of encouragement to the lads for the closing quarter of the game.
His words of wisdom maybe worked as we ran in 4 more tries through Kyle Scott, Jonny D and Big Fozzy bagged a brace before the end, however I think in reality it was because DMP tired and had limited bench options but credit to them, they never stopped working hard and although the final scoreline makes it appear this was a one sided encounter, take the last 4 tries out of the equation and it was another well matched game between 2 good sides.
Final Score – Hippos 55 DMP Antiquarians 15
Man of the Match – Hat Trick Hero, Gav ‘Weasel’ Lumley