Return of the Jack
By Martin Lancaster
Captain convinced kicking game was the right option.
A home game, it seems a long time since the seconds had one of those. As you can imagine, there was no tears shed trying to get a team. I’m sure, however that Aaron in the third team made up for it, trying to persuade players to go to the far reaches of West Park St Helens. In the end, with only eight confirmed players, he conceded. Luckily, Prenton allowed us to have extra subs, ensuring that everyone who wanted a game, got a game.
There was no young Christian Caine this week, having managed to get tickets to his favourite boy band, the Bangtan Boys, and the Fonze could not shake off his recurring Spanish Flu, however a returning Kiev Mainwaring was the big news. Back from a stint in the first team, the part time captain promised to show us what he’d learnt in his long absence. Also returning was long term injured Jack Beckwith, carrying rather more weight than when he last appeared on a pitch. I was looking forward to this gladiator’s performance.
Prenton as expected were full of young, fit students from Chester University. Obviously Prenton must offer these daylight shy, night walker’s complimentary beer and food tokens to entice them from their beds on a Saturday afternoon.
Captaincy this week again went to Precious, although I was a bit worried when the ref said he was alright because he doesn’t say anything. Not a leadership skill advantageous in a captain, but what do I know, most refs hate me for the constant advice and recommendations I offer on the pitch.
It didn’t take long for Prenton to register their first score, with some fast paced backs able to exploit the wide spaces left by our seemingly unaware players. It was hardly a secret game plan, yet Sefton over committed to the rucks, and allowed Prenton two quick breakaway tries from Sefton’s half before they realised the danger.
Sefton had their chances, with Matt Simpson breaking the line, and having a two verses one opportunity, but the pass didn’t go to hand and the chance was lost.
When Sefton did eventually get over the line, it came from the forwards, with a dominant scrum driven over the line for Owen Collins to dive on the ball for an unconverted try.
This however was not a comeback, although Prenton’s progress was halted, Sefton weren’t having any success either. Matt Simpson and Paul Latham in the centres tried their best to batter their way through the middle, and although they made yards, they never got free of the covering defence.
Although Sefton spent plenty of time within Prenton’s twenty-two they could not quite produce the final pass, either that or they needlessly kicked the ball away for Prenton to regain possession. As a result Prenton added two more tries before the end of the half from breakaway tries.
The captain does the right thing and replaces himself at the break, blaming a leg injury for his retirement. Jonny Orr moves to scrum half, with Michael Carruthers arriving late to come on at stand-off. The plastic Welshman preferred to watch his adoptive side thrash Scotland to scrape a very lucky win.
---- Return of the Jack ----
Also on was Jack Beckwith, returning after a long injury. With Jack, preparation is everything, and his pre-match routine is precise. Spending thirty minutes tapping his arm onto his shoulder, as well has ensuring his thumb doesn’t detach from his hand. This is followed by a fifteen minute pre-match, pre-warm up, and a moment of mental meditation. After another vigorous warm up approaching half time Jack is finally ready to replace JP Ellis.
The ref blew the whistle, Jack runs, Jack makes a tackle, Jack fell down, the ref blows the whistle, Jack goes off, JP returns. All within thirty seconds. Outstanding.
With the drama over, Sefton get a few chances to claw some points back. JP Ellis after his thirty second rest was revived, and makes a break. Through the defence and one man to beat, he selfishly tries to take the defender on instead of passing to support, and loses the ball. Michael Carruthers also had a few chances, but insists on using this one handed dummy pass, that he has obviously seen premiership players use. Ideally, this needs to be used whilst in close proximity to a defender, not in open space with no opposition around him.
Despite the chances, Prenton are next to score with a good angled run off a ruck to slip through a gap and score a converted try under the posts.
Sefton again find themselves within the oppositions twenty-two, and attacking the line. At the ruck the ball is popped to Kiev Mainwaring, intent on showing us what he has learnt in the first team. He spots a gap, and heads for it, and at the last moment pops it off outside, straight to Prenton’s scrum-half, who quickly races off, and is through under the posts with Sefton unable to catch him. I am wondering whether this move was straight off the training ground, or if it was improvised play.
This, it has been said, was the decisive action of the game, the point of no return. A shameful Kiev is looked on in disgust, with players wondering when he would be back in the first team.
A final push by Sefton finally brought some success, but it was only a consolation try in the closing minutes of the game. The forwards put some pressure on the opposition line, which eventually led to Owen Collins crashing over for his second try. The attempted conversion by Sean Muirhead falling pitifully short of the posts.
---- Who is Sean Muirhead ----
Yes, the all-rounder (has he told you he can play all positions from 9 to 15), again was trying to convince people he can kick. Unfortunately, with Kiev as replacement captain, he was totally fooled by Sean’s confident claims, unaware of his delusion. We can’t blame Kiev’s lack of judgement, after-all Sean convinced me he could play rugby, as of yet I have no real evidence of that.
Let’s not fool ourselves, the score flattered Sefton a little. Prenton were fitter around the park, quicker at the breakdown, and faster in open play. Sefton might’ve been able to stifle their ball possession if they had kept it tight, with a slight edge in the set pieces. However, too much ball was kicked away, straight into the hands of Prenton’s grateful backs, who then had acres of space to run into.
Man of the match went to JP Ellis who had another rampant performance, and you have to ask when he will get his chance in the first team. Ellis is slightly of the radar due to not training and not being available every week, but there are many more in that situation, I think he deserves a shot.
No games for anyone next week, but it will give me a chance to put my green shirt on, drink Guinness, and dance a jig, that Welsh loving, Irish convict Paul ‘Campo’ Ryan will have a real supporting dilemma this weekend.