Sat 26
First XV
1s left ‘mist’-ified by what counts as a high as they are beaten by Pontefract.

1s left ‘mist’-ified by what counts as a high as they are beaten by Pontefract.

By Philip Mitchell
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Big performances from all involved as the 1s run one of the top teams in the league close.

It would be fair to say that the 1sts travelled to 3rd placed Pontefract with some trepidation this week as the last couple of games have not been kind to them. It was a bit of a drive and when they got there the parking was far from ideal, Mitchell getting into a space that had it been an narrower Sion would have put his fingers in it. The team was once again ravaged by injuries and exams with some last minute poaching from the 2s required to fill the spaces. Nevertheless the game plan and system had been well drilled into the players during the warm up by FTC Mike (one of the many casualties of this season of glass joints) and there was a definite feeling that people didn't come all this way to spend an afternoon stood behind their own posts.

Not that they could see them necessarily as the pitch and surrounding area was shrouded in thick fog, hiding what I am sure was something of rural idyll. However, the visibility was good enough for the referee and so the game got underway. The first five minutes saw Ponte looked to spread the ball wide but SHMEDs filled the field well, with Nay making big hits and carries despite a sore shoulder and new hooker Euan (outdoing Madley by making the leap from 3s straight to 1s) putting in the chops. This eagerness in defence while commendable resulted in them conceding consecutive penalties for offside although sometimes it was felt that the line speed was so good that the referee couldn’t quite imagine how they had got there without doing something illegal. Anyway this rising penalty count led to Ponte getting in a good field position and eventually making the most of an overlap to score in the corner, 7-0.

Ponte then got another break away try which allowed them allowing to get their second try, this time the ball sent wide from the conversion, 12-0. The theme of spreading it wide continued but SHMEDs kept drifting, Chris Aitchson coming up with steals so outrageous that he is wanted for burglary by the the police. When they did make it round the drift, Frank made a cracking last ditch tackle on the winger and held the ball up. The winger protested to the referee however Frank whispered sweet nothings in his ear which helped the situation immensely. SHMEDs had a few attacks but were mainly on the defensive, one promising break from Refalo cut short by a high tackle (more on these later…) Anyway at half time it was 12-0 but the performance had been top notch and Mikes halftime sermon was basically ‘more of the same and chances will come’.

He was right as well as the first 20 minutes of the second half were all SHMEDs, with things clicking in attack as red and yellows were used to good effect. Very shortly they were up in the Ponte 5m line and it took a clothes line my mother would hang her washing on from the 10 to stop Nay from powering over. This finally forced the referee to dig into his pocket to pull out an orange card, leading to some confusion as to whether it was red or yellow. This had been a long time coming as a number of hits had been of questionable altitude up to this point as Ponte got more and more frustrated at having to defend against ‘a bunch of 15 years olds’ (they had seen Tevans by this point). The Ponte six was particularly riled up and decided that he would take inspiration from Conor McGregor and started handing off using his fist and elbow (and his dodgy facial hair).

Eventually they did manage to lose their red shirted shackles and hold onto possession, a nice inside pass sending their man over, 17-0. However, SHMEDs were right back at them making the most of the extra man (or boy if you were a Pontefract player) by retaining possession and making yards up the pitch. Reds were used to great affect near the try line and with the forwards white line fever getting them nowhere the ball was spread to Spakry who found a gap and dotted down, 17-5 and some very irate Yorkshiremen. They were almost over again as Stansbury drove for the corner but another very questionable hit (that got a team warning after a yellow…right) saw him bundled out. Will also picked a great line from fullback and again was thwarted by a swinging arm, Frank having to be physically restrained as he tried to make new friends with the Pontefract backs. This rough justice only spurred the SHMEDs on however with their 10 back on a Pontefract surged up the pitch got them their 4th try of the game, 22-5. Despite this, SHMEDs again were up on the 5m line and I don’t quite know how they were kept out (take a wild guess). Eventually Frank tried a cross field kick that didn't quite come off let’s say and relieved the pressure which had been building.

The game moved more centre field and the hits rained in from both sides. Frank (who as you can tell got himself quite involved) held up their 13 in a tackle, something that got him quite riled up as that shouldn't happen to a man with his flowing locks and flair boots such as him. As a result he took it upon himself to make Frank aware of this with his knee on the floor, more restraining, more kind words, you get the idea. The Ponty 8 then got a nasty knee injury as he got hit low and high, sending torso one way and knee the other. The ambulance got their eventually but we would be happy to advise him how to blame Jeremy Hunt for his long and cold wait and wish him a speedy recovery (he was one of their cleaner tacklers).

This led to a move to another pitch which with fog setting and no flood lights was more of a graveyard. Codrin, always one for a game suggested settling things by rock paper scissors (no doubt Ponte would have been high in that as well) however this suggestion was regrettably turned down. The new pitch and the cold wait threw the SHMEDs a bit and Pontefract went over for two more scores but to be honest there is not much to read into this apart from its hard to drift when you can’t see your outside man due to the poor visibility.

This made it at 35-5 to Ponte but for those involved this didn't really matter as despite all the adversity and swinging arms faced they ran Ponte very close with the final score not reflecting this at all. It is very difficult to pick people out however special mention must go to Dylan and Aitchson who made a nuisance of themselves all afternoon and to Euan who looked very comfortable at this level and who threw some great darts all afternoon. The performance therefore feels like something of a turning point in the fortunes of the 1s as those involved laid down a massive marker not only to themselves but to those hoping to get back in the team after exams and injury have passed.

N.b. Credit to TD too with this one as he helped with the account of the match events.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 26, Nov 2016




Yorkshire 2

League position

Sheffield Medicals