For the third week running they were let down by their original opponents High Wycombe Vets, who pulled out on Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately a fixture against Marlow III became available, and so the veterans headed over into Buckinghamshire for their first game.
The preparation was not perfect, with a long availability list including a number of players away playing golf, this was then compounded with late dropouts and the loss of two players to the Vikings late in the day. The entire club was hit, with over 50 players being unavailable for one reason or another.
Of the fifteen players who arrived at Riverwoods, only two were recognised backs, so it was that new Captain (Major) Shaun Collins-Lindsay started at fly-half, whilst flankers Terry Walters and Marc McAdden occupied the outside centre and left wing berths respectively. They were also boosted by the home side lending them a scrum-half for the entire game and two further players during the second half.
Having started on the offensive, the visitors were hit with a pair of quick fire converted tries both scored from distance. However, they showed great resolve and, following a sustained forward drive, the ball was fed to right winger Nat Backhouse who scampered over from five metres out.
Sadly, that was their last score of the half, whilst the hosts notched a further four converted tries, and within ten minutes of the second period the Reading defensive line had breached twice more.
Whilst many sides would have crumbled, but Captain-Major’s side showed their spirit by scoring the last two tries of the game, the first from loanee Graham Boonzaaier, and a try on debut by centre Ollie March, the latter being converted another loanee fly-half Ben Hughes.
Whilst the scoreline and the lack of numbers will give some cause for concern, what will be pleasing was the discipline. Before the game the skipper instilled in his squad the need not to incur the wrath of the referee by questioning his decisions, or conceding needless offenses, and to their credit his side to the message to heart.
Although being strict on the pitch, the new Captain-Major is keen to see the team have fun after the game. He has engraved rhino pin badges for the man of the match from each side, along with a pair of dark glasses and a white stick for playing a “blinder”. The first winner of the Rhinos award was Rupert Newson. There is also a punishment for the ‘Dick of the Day”, the unlucky recipient of the pint of neat lime cordial and the horned hat was first try scorer Nate Backhouse, who slipped over with the try line at his mercy, and then overrunning a try scoring pass.
A big thanks to our hosts, for the game and the hospitality, and to the Bucks referee for contributing to the spirit of the game.