On a bright autumnal day, Haringey Rhinos Vets dusted off their boots and went once more unto the breach. The Veterans Cup Quarter Final was forfeited by Bank of England so, with a squad already in place, a friendly game against a mix of Woodford 2s and 3s was arranged.
It looked as though the Rhinos might be in for a tough day when Woodford scored within 5 minutes of kick-off. A couple of missed tackles and the flanker scored in the corner on the left. Conversion missed. 5-0 to Woodford.
The veterans were clearly starting slowly, and looked a little rusty for the first 10 minutes. That all changed when some good ball retention from the forwards led to Kiwi ginger weapon centre Borich getting the Rhinos on the scoreboard by bursting through two tacklers outside the 22 and dotting down. Converted by Armer. 7-5 to Rhinos.
Some more solid carrying from the forwards won the Rhinos a scrum outside the opposition 22. Evergreen number 8 Phill Fernie picked up, drew two men and fed a pass to right winger Armer, who handed off the fullback and stepped inside to touch down.
Converted. 14-5 to Rhinos.
Next it was time for the forwards to get in on the try scoring action, as Haringey pressure led to a scrum from five metres. Multiple big carries from the forwards gave flying prop Dan Quinn the opportunity to drive over line on the left. Conversion missed. 19-5 to Rhinos.
The Vets were starting to enjoy dominance, and could sense more tries. Unfortunately some sloppy missed tackles gave Woodford chance to break through and show some neat quick hands out to the left wing to score in the corner. Conversion missed. 19-10 to Rhinos.
One of the plays of the day came from the resulting restart. A perfect kick-off from number 10 Tom Pert, into a huge space in the Woodford half, saw the ball bounce invitingly to the charging Rhinos. Pacey blind side flanker Felix Jakens (Chesh) gathered the bouncing ball and popped to supporting wing Armer. Armer gave it back to Chesh over the full back's head to score under the posts. The perfect way to go into half-time. Converted. 26-10 to Rhinos.
Half time score - 26-10 to Rhinos
As the second half began, Rhinos were in for a stern test, with the wind now in Woodford's favour. They made this advantage show when Woodford scored a try five minutes into the half. Pressure was building on the veterans. Did they have enough in the tank to close this game out? Conversion missed again. 26-15 to Rhinos
Some good pressure from the Rhinos pack enabled scrum half Andy Swainson to score next. Fernie picked from the base of a ruck, committed two players and popped to Swanny, who showed great strength by holding off three men and driving his way over the line on the left. Conversion attempt missed. 31-15 to Rhinos.
Woodford were using the wind to their advantage and put pressure on in the Rhinos 22. Rhinos conceded penalties and Woodford scored close to the posts. Converted. 31-22 to Rhinos.
For the next ten minutes Woodford had the best of the game and were putting serious pressure on the Rhinos try line. One more score and Haringey would have been in real trouble. At this point skipper and all action flanker Michael Hasse managed a great try saving tackle to keep the two score advantage. This tackle seemed to galvanise the Rhinos and the tide turned back to the green machine. Several players picked up their performance and started to dominate proceeding. Chesh was making some great metres through the middle. Hooker Chadders, props Knowles Barron and Craig Sweetlove, and second rows Rob Handley and Matt Pert were really solid in making sure the Rhinos kept the pill for long periods.
Ten minutes of the game to go and prop Tim Salter picked up, fed Swanny who gave a great ball to Armer in some space 30 meters out. He ran it in to the corner under pressure from covering fullback. Borich took his first conversion of the day from the touchline. Unbelievably he hit the sweetest strike you're ever likely to see, and used the strong wind to guide the ball through the posts. 38-22 to Rhinos.
With the game nearly over, Woodford scored with the last play of the game to make it 38-27.
FINAL SCORE - HARINGEY RHINOS VETS 38 - WOODFORD 27
Thanks to everyone who played and helped to facilitate the early kick-off yesterday. Some Rhinos helped Woodford out for players at various stages, so well done to Neary, Pedro, Sweetie and Chadders for that.
Armer (2), Borich, Quinn, Jakens, Swainson
Knowles Barron, Chadwick, Quinn, Handley, Derry, M Pert, Hasse (c), Fernie, Swainson, T Pert, Peterson, Borich, Emmott, Armer, Gonse
Neary, Sweetlove, Salter, Pedro, Ouda, Wollaston
Next action for Rhinos Vets is the semi-final of the Middlesex Veterans Cup on Saturday 2nd February 2019. Opposition and venue TBC.