Apparently we were not meant to win this game as it seems, everything was against us. Player availability our worst enemy. So much so that the Coaches had to ask Dane Weaver, who has been sidelined due to rehab on his Key hole surgery knee, to go on the bench as a FORWARD replacement, with Stoner and Colt Sam Millard forming the bench. First start (I think) for Simon Henshall (another Colt) in the back row for Dan Hart who had to move to the Wing in the absence of many Whitehall players. All the signs were there that this was going to be a very tough game to the end. With Stroud firing on all cylinders in the first 20 mins, they scored the first try down our blind side (again), conversion scored.
Some sloppy play and penalty after penalty hurting Whitehall throughout the game, gave Stroud territory and shots at goal. Stroud extending their lead through one of these penalties, 10 – 0. Whitehall looking dangerous when the ball was moved through the backs, responded to the Forwards hard yards by scoring a try through a simple dummy switch pop to Dan Colton, try converted 10 – 7. Just after this (and 5 mins before halftime) Dan Hart gets Sin Binned for some reason??? Whites down to 14 men and still giving penalties away (14 in the first half according to Pete P) held of Strouds advances, 10 – 7 half time.
Big T comes off (we later find out it’s for a dislocated shoulder) for Dane Weaver making his comeback at Second Row! Whitehall maintaining pressure got their rewards with 2 penalties (Channon missing a previous attempt 30 yards away) 10 – 13 Whitehall. Unfortunately for us and Tom, our Hooker come extra back row player, breaks his ankle as his studs get caught in the ground and with his body turning who had extra weight from Tom’s opposite number on his back. Our thought’s go out to Tom for a speedy recovery. Stoner comes on with Woody throwing in.
Stroud looking dangerous again, and Whitehall struggling to find their feet after the re-shuffle, split our defence from one side to the other, the Stroud Winger scoring almost in the corner, try converted 17 – 13. With 20 mins to go there were more casualties to come, Ryan England hobbling around the pitch with a bad ankle for the remainder of the time. Before Badger comes off he manages to steel the ball from Stroud just inside our own half. Open play is on and the ball is quickly moved through the hands from Myself to Dane via the hobbling Ryan England to crash over in the corner, conversion missed, 18 – 17. Badger is now off with bruised ribs, Whitehalls tactics was to keep hold of the ball till the game ends, and absolutely NO penalties. Jermaine who is having a fine game making line breaks, but getting no support keeps Stroud at bay. But, with Stroud never giving up, take the game to us, which paid off as 2 mins from time, Whitehall gave away a penalty in front of posts! Final score 20 – 18 to Stroud.
As you can tell this isn’t my usual report with silliness and mocking of players. This is a recognition report for everyone who turned up and made a BIG effort, especially with all the obstacles we encountered during this game. Notable performances from Simon Henshall and Dan Colton (colts), with Dan really making that no.13 shirt his, and Simon who constantly was asking for the ball (a rarety from a youngster). Dane for playing out of position and scoring a vital try. Plus the injury list of players who really did put their bodies on the line-
Tommy Tobin, Big T, Ryan England and Badger.
We did let ourselves down with the penalty count where Stroud was able to gain territory and keep the scoreboard ticking over. We can’t expect to turn up to a place like Stroud and beat them easily, they are a good team with home advantage. So, we have 2 more games left to prove to people, and ourselves, that we deserve to be in this league. Who’s with me, and who’s hiding?
Comments and Facts welcome, but remember I play the game as well ;o)