Saturday was a good day. It was a day where 15 Tourists made the pitch, no one pulled out at the last minute although Hans (Solo) tried to suggest he had too much to consume the night before and therefore he might drop out, luckily my blunt text response had the required effect.
6 players made their debut excluding Famine who was returning after a 6 year hiatus. With little over 30mins until kick off we found out that the ref was not coming so Javi had to reverse his jersey and accept the whistle. Askeans leant us Dom who slotted in at flanker and had a great game until he turned traitor late in the 2nd half.
Askeans play on a lovely 4G pitch, it is also very wide and suits expansive running rugby that under 25’s would relish. We started brightly with plenty of endeavour and bustle which had our opposition constantly infringing at the rucks. Eventually we were rewarded with a penalty right in front of the posts. Gareth Thomas stepped up and slotted over.
We were guilty of overplaying on quite a few occasions and instead of going to ground we tried to keep the ball alive, unfortunately on quite a few occasions it ended up in the hands of an Askean back who tiptoed through our porous defence (It was a wide pitch). Our scrum was really solid all day. Kevin Rees slotted nicely into the team and made some good carries late on, Gonzalo played very well at hooker (a position he was trying for the first time) and Famine held strong in the scrum and actually managed to last 80mins without breaking something.
John Denny had a great debut picking up really well from the base of the scrum and making some good yards, unfortunately our designated lineout thrower was now carrying the whistle so John had to step up (as he used to play prop, which is close to a hooker). I don’t think we won any of our own lineout but we did manage to steal some of the oppo’s.
I guess we couldn’t really build much of a platform, we ran well with the ball and rucked quite well, Kiwi Tony was all over the pitch (in a good way) and Brett made some great carries. We had to tap and go at almost every penalty as we would almost certainly would lose the lineout.
When we actually had the ball our backs gelled well. Eric was industrious and quick to every breakdown, Gareth Thomas looked dangerous with ball in hand, he made plenty of breaks but was snaffled at the last minute. He went over on 2 occasions and broke the line almost every time he had the ball, the fact he was halted by such an organised defence says far more about our oppo.
The centre partnership of Blair and Jamie worked really well and they continued probing all day. George was lucky not to earn dick of the day after we had gone through 6-7 phases, lovely hands through the backs had released him on the left flank and instead of diving with the line at his mercy he stood up-right and was bundled into touch (a far more heinous crime saved him from the embarrassment of DOD).
At full back Solo looked in good overall control, he made some nice runs and found quite a lot of freedom in the 2nd half. I would expect to see a lot more against a lesser team.
We tired in the 2nd half and fell off a few tackles to let the oppo have some soft tries but they were without doubt a better team than us. They had a few individual players that tipped the balance and I would think play regularly in Kent 2 (their first xv didn’t have a fixture). In the last 20mins we had a lot of territory but couldn’t add to our tally. Javi was back after swapping the whistle for a gumshield and Dom (now back with Askeans) slipped through the defence to score a well deserved try.
We played some good stuff and I fell sure if we can keep the personnel together for a few consecutive games we will start putting a few teams to the sword.
Kiwi Tony ended up with DOD for the unpardonable crime of breaking the bottle of port in the changing rooms.