This was a game played with a lot of heart by both sides and made for an excellent spectacle and shows what could be achieved if we could get similar numbers for those difficult away games.
Corby were welcomed to the game by the first scrum as BB’s pack proceeded to steamroller them over several yards, a feat BB managed to repeat several times during the game, despite seemingly giving away a fair weight advantage. It was a fitting welcome back from Afghanistan to Tommy Tighthead – sorry, Fulthorpe – playing out of position at hooker. His consistently lively contribution was bolstered in the front row by another returnee – Andy Britten, having his first game in nearly three seasons – and the consistently strong stalwart that is Sean Fagan.
Gary Bowers opened the scoring for BB with a short run, the best of what would be three tries for him. Second rows Chrissy Fulthorpe and Rob Bunting competed well in both the line out and open play, Rob Martiniak having volunteered not to play as we were limited to only 5 subs, despite being already kitted up. Corby replied swiftly with a penalty
Gareth Harper scored as well and provided a great deal of extra mobility at 7, combining well Tony Rolfe at 6 and this Saturday’s groom – Tim Brown – who delivered efficient linkage at 9 with an excellent back line.
Half time – BB 17 (3 tries, one conversion) – Corby 10 (one penalty, one converted try).
BB continued to consolidate throughout the second half, the back line continuing to cause chaos off the back of some quality forward play. Ed Tucker was again creative at 10, despite having potentially cracked his ankle in the first half. David Willix was solid in defence and vocal in leadership in his duties as captain on the pitch, supported ably by James Lyon at 13, who was unlucky to catch a shoulder injury in only his second game of the season, but we were happy to have Mark Linnel to step in, albeit not his chosen position.
Gary Bowers was fortunate to reach his hat-trick, although the pain on his face was a boon to all those who witnessed his jug purchase, as he waited until 6.15 to part with his hard earned cash.
As BB tightened their grip on the game, wingers Dan Denton and Kev Marson grew in confidence to create confusion for the opposition in attack, with Steve Larkins ever adventurous from full back. Kev managed to grab a brace, but came off early into the second half in the worst case of jug avoidance since Tommy Buswell's last trio. Despite having to use all five subs to cover injuries, BB maintained its consistency in defence with strength and mobility in attack.
Paul Donald distributed well at 9, while Kelvin Smith ran a couple of good angles from 10. It was good to see Dawid Pulkownik returning on the wing after a long absence, and Ricardo Mouro more than maintained the pressure in the pack. If there is any criticism to levy at BB, is would be that the overlap was too often ignored in attack, and a lapse of concentration at the end allowed Corby in for a second try, which was well deserved as they had kept up their efforts throughout what was a very physical game.
Ed Tucker converted two tries. The team being limited to 20, Billy Leah, Dean Stagg, Spencer Ngawya, Paul Barker and Captain Paul Hood all commendably stepped aside so as to allow others a game. This - combined with the determination and enthusiasm displayed throughout by the whole team - is why it is impossible to pick a man of the match – the whole team was simply outstanding, in keeping with the both spirit of the Thirds and the Club as a whole.