2’s Win Again
11 - 26
Knowing a good win at Pulborough would set us up nicely for the visit of Holbrook next week, we arrived in glorious sunshine, keen to put down a marker. Having a great pack this week meant we were looking forward to an afternoon of destructive scrummaging and good quick ball for our runners to exploit, so it was with huge disappointment to hear that Pulborough had no front row and the scrums would be uncontested. This was a big blow, but it did mean a 10 point start.
We started down the slope, knowing we had to put on a few points while we had the hill and the wind, and it wasn’t long before a delightful chip and chase from Ben Gray, saw the 10 clear and under the sticks. We were having trouble securing quick ball on the floor and were constantly on the wrong side of the ref’s whistle, but whenever we moved the ball we looked dangerous and it was from one of these attacks that Pike burst through, showing remarkable pace for the most ancient of centres, as he went from half way, deep into the oppo 22. When he was finally brought down, a deft offload found Marriott who drove over for our second. Ben converted again and things were looking good.
Towards the end of the half, Pulborough applied some pressure which was relieved with an enormous cross field clearance kick from Gray. Titch went after it like a greyhound and wrapped up the retreating winger. The ball popped out and Ben hacked forward, a lovely bounce put the fly half clear and he made no mistake while dotting down for his brace. The conversion was straight forward and the whistle went for half time with the score at 0 - 21 (without our 10 point bonus).
In the home fixture, we had led 22 - 0 at the interval and Pulborough had stormed back in the second period to only lose by 3, so I was wary of celebrating too early, especially with the slope against us. Tommy Bowden who had defended and carried with great panache for most of the half had crunched his neck and so Geordie’s fresh legs were introduced. His catch and drive from the restart was excellent and away we went.
I’m not really sure why we often seem to have periods of the game where we switch off, looking tired and sometimes panicky, but it happened right here. Two tries for Pulborough followed in five minutes and we lost our heads. Firm words from the excellent pack leader Blackledge seemed to get the boys going again and soon our patterns returned. Indeed it was Will who smashed through the defence and made huge territory before the ball went wide, Pike and Dodge combined with the excellent Rhys down the right. Tom Kiernan started making his trademark breaks, the number 2 looking really sprightly.
I think it is fair to say that both sides were getting frustrated with the stop, start nature of the game, and the whistle was blown with alarming regularity, but it was G’s, who rely on quick tempo rugby, who really suffered. Every time a good passage of play moved the ball up the pitch, a decision would go against us which was leading to much vexation for the boys in blue, but nothing could stop Kiernan scoring a beaut to restore a nice gap in the scoreboard.
There was still time for another Pulborough score from a strange quick tap penalty which left a few of us scratching our heads, but the final whistle went with the score at 21 - 26, and 11 - 26 when our bonus 10 had been removed.
Not a great game tbh, particularly in the second half, but a win is a win. We must be more dynamic on the floor to clear out the rucks and much more eager to secure the ball and we will be fine. Three games to go which if won, will give us two pieces of silverware.
Tommy was excellent when on, Will & Tom K were looking sharp and it was a delight to see Pike back in a 2’s shirt. Lee was solid at 9 and managed to keep his temper in check - well done mate! But MOM has to go to Ben with a brace and three conversions for a personal tally of 16.
Massive game next weekend at home against Holbrook. Holbrook have finished top of their league and know they need to win their last two fixtures against us to win the combined league. We must stop them doing this to claim the title. Come on boys!!!