Southwark Lancers 29 vs 33 HSBC
On an overcast September day we were all summoned to the depths of Southwark, desperate to put our below average performance against Sittingbourne to rest. For most of us is this is the closest match to where we live, but yet still all took most of us a while to gather. After getting listening to some banging beats in the changing rooms getting us in the right frame of mind we set out and into ‘the cage’. The warm up was the usual mix of a few stretches and some game run through. We soon learnt Ed Botha was going to be late and therefore Josh Gretton would make his first start of the season.
Going back into the changing rooms and coming out firing we were ready for kick off. Owen O'Malley put a lovely ball up for HSBC, solid pressure on the receiver meant Bank soon had the ball back in their hands. A couple of phases later and Craig Edmunds barraged his way over only to get held up by a couple of strong Southwark Lancers forwards. The resulting 5 meter scrum was unsuccessful and the ball soon found its way back into the Lancers hands. This was not the theme for the rest of the day. A clearance kick and a couple of mishaps later and bank were under their own posts having conceded a weak try and conversion to put them 7-0 down, 5 mins gone. Travel sickness and the normal slow start for HSBC was apparent.
The response was strong though, another great kick off from Owen followed up by the determined forwards, Mike Snaith perhaps a bit too eager when he went down briefly with Shoulder/neck issues. This was soon shaken off and Bank had the put into the scrum 10 meters out and a good push meant Bob Pittam could get over and Owen (even with Gary pointing out to me, Owen hadn't done any practice before kick-off) easily added the extras from out wide on the left, 7-7 (10 mins gone). With Bank riding high we kept hold of the ball and ran through some good forwards phases and producing some quick ball. A great backs move from the ruck and Elliot O’Brien, playing 12, danced his way through the Lancers defence, scoring a great try under the posts, Owen converted 14-7 (24 mins in).
Renewed vigour and very strong scrummaging from the tight 5 put a large amount of pressure on the Lancers through solid work in defence. Bank then managed to turn the ball over from the tackle area with the ball skittling out to Elliot whose quick hands then fed the ball to William Peberdy who put the foot down and went round the fullback to score, Owen making the score 21-7, 28 mins down. Bank were seemingly on fire and even a penalty from Lancers just before the break didn’t put a dampener on the half time oranges, the score HSBC 21-10 Southwark Lancers.
Half time saw positive chat and Pebs saying we need at least two more scores... This was the theory anyway!
Straight from the kick off Bank were under pressure on their own line, the ball then popped out the side of a ruck straight to their winger who had dived over only 2 minutes into the 2nd half, the resulting conversion pushed wide (score: HSBC 21-15 Lancers). Continued pressure from Lancers and with Bank not being able to get out of their half, let alone get their hands on the ball. This led to another inevitable score on the far side which made light work of HSBC defence, the conversion made the score 21-22 to Lancers, 52 minutes down.
Things weren’t going Banks way and some interesting reffing on the scrums followed by some strong running from Lancers back row and centres meant Bank hadn’t had possession in the Lancers half at all since the break. Another try was scored through a couple of phases and converted to put Bank seemingly way off the mark and 29-21 down with only 13 minutes left on the clock.
The resulting team huddle put a renewed sense of urgency and got the team fired up for the final few minutes. Another good kick off and a huge hit from Ed Botha taking man and ball, giving a scrum in the lancers half and Bank in possession. Craigy, Randy Powell and Arun Johan-Gupta put a mammoth shove on again and gave some great ball for the backs. A couple of phases later with some relatively scrappy handling from Bank and an interesting inside ball which landed nicely for Wookey to put in a step and go through the last two defenders touching down under the posts, casually Owen stepped up and hammered the ball into the upright missing the 2 points, the score poised at 29-26 with 11 minutes to go, Bank now needing to score a try to win.
The belief had set back in and after retaining the ball from kick off and Lancers conceding penalty after penalty in the red zone, the referee reached for his pocket to send Lancers Flanker to the bin with 90 seconds to go. The resulting scrum was again a great drive however an over eager Randy hooked the ball as if he was trying to score a Steve Gerrard special from the spot. Wookey then dived on the ball only 10 meters out from the line. A couple of pick and sticks got Wookey freed and the forwards then put some great pod work together. The clock had gone red and with HSBC still in possession and some great driving a meter out, Pete Cole barged over in sheer combined momentum to spark the champagne cork celebrations, with Owen converting making the final score HSBC 1st XV 33- 29 South Lancers.
The result gave us the 5 try bonus point maximum, but we really made hard work of it and following the game, the consensus was that we are certainly almost there to getting a full 80 minutes of rugby together cutting out the periods where we switch off.
The Post match Black pudding wrapped in raw bacon in the pub delighted Bob, almost as much as the Man of the Match pint for Pebs which apparently (as designated by Southwark lancers) was destined for Elliot who scampered off after the game.
This weekend there is a sense of anticipation for the club double header on Saturday, with Tasty’s games in the bar and the party bus to follow on that eve, finishing in infernos, this is what dreams are made of. See you there!