Rain eventually gave way to sunshine but the wind did not relent. ONs showed up with a bigger than expected squad containing many DPP players with the squad further enhanced by players returning from injury. They were well resourced. We had three finishers, they had eight. Our boys fitness would be called upon towards the end.
From the kick- off Tows applied some early pressure resulting in a penalty which Harvey kicked in the blustery conditions for an early advantage. 3 – 0 Tows. The sort of start the coaches would have hoped for. But as has been the case at times this year, the opposition got straight back into the game.
An ON’s try near the corner was not converted but a penalty shortly afterwards was. 8 – 3 ON’s. There was a real danger that we were going to be hurt by the number of penalties being conceded. This had to change.
The next penalty was conceded by ON’s and expertly converted by Harvey, closing the gap to 8 – 6. Game on.
This was always going to be a tight game, the teams so evenly matched, so when we went to sleep after our score we were duly punished. An ON’s breakaway down the right was not hindered by any Tows players making a tackle and the try was easily completed. Three missed tackles. No conversion followed but ON’s were now 13 – 6 to the good.
This seemed to spark the team back into life as a long period of Tows pressure followed. This firstly resulted in a penalty which, although not converted, restored the team’s belief that they could win the game if they could put their opponents under enough concerted pressure. And it was more pressure that led to Ricardo muscling his way through for Tows first try, duly converted. 13 – 13. This is the way it remained up to half time.
It is fair to say the head coach was not happy at half time. Quite right. We were making it easy for our opponents. Too many unforced errors which needed to be addressed. The half time team talk outlined the improvements expected in no uncertain terms. Our old rivals were there for the taking, but not without upping our game.
Whilst the first half was peppered with mistakes, the second half performance deserves to attract plenty of praise.
A great run from Pickles, picking up deep in our half, was halted just before the try line but the resulting pressure from Tows gave Josh the chance to pick and go. A great try that put Tows ahead 18 – 13. The team was playing a very different standard of rugby now and it was evident that our opponents were struggling to have any impact on the game.
Pressure often forces mistakes and a terrible ON’s pass was intercepted by Harvey in plenty of space. He ran over half the length of the pitch to score, with defenders chasing him more in hope than expectation. A simple conversion gave Tows a 25 – 13 advantage. With time running out, the team had the chance to show the defending side of their game as ON’s mounted a wave of attacks.
Each attack was robustly met with tackle after tackle, hit after hit, holding the ball up - bodies on the line every time. Absolute and total commitment that the boys should be proud of. Edward was adjudged to have committed a foul worthy of a yellow card and they took advantage of the extra man to score and to make a simple conversion. That was the last play apart from the restart.
Final Score 25-20.
A great game of rugby enjoyed by all. Their last gasp try made the score look closer than it was in reality. After another slow start, the lads have redeemed themselves with a second half that showcased their many qualities. To sum up in the words of Joe Brown, ‘Tows won because each Tows player was better than their opposite number’. Teamwork won the day. Well done boys.