Too Close for Comfort!
25 - 24
With five players lost to the first team and a multitude of unavailability this week, I was very concerned about keeping our winning streak going against this weekend’s opponents, Pulborough, who always play with pride and passion. Thankfully, our pack was pretty settled, and with Lampkin catching the drop out, our big lads settled into their well drilled routine and worked their way down the pitch with skill and composure. It wasn’t long before Ben Gray, very much welcomed back into the team after a few games out, fed Gibbo, playing at 13. The good thing about playing five wingers in your backline is the pace, and Gibbs showed plenty of that as he dotted down our first.
It didn’t take long for our second either, as a speculative kick ahead was chased hard by Gray who was on hand to take full advantage of the full back’s error to drop on the ball and apparently take full command of the game. This was not at all the case as Pulborough roared back into the game to score two of their own, and as the half time whistle went, they led us 10 - 12.
I had noticed the enormous crowd watching the match and thought that it was our beautiful rugger attracting such large numbers of spectators, but as the second half started I realised that they were all Pulborough players who had travelled with the largest squad I have ever seen. In fact the team that started the second period was very different to the first and we knew we were in a game! Our forwards again took control, with Pentney, Halligey and Lampkin driving us up the pitch. Lovely mauling took us further still and it was Tim Morris who finished things off with the final thrust. Unfortunately, a mistake from the restart, led to the black and white’s winning good field position which led to a penalty five yards out. This was quickly taken and run in unopposed much to all our disgust.
Back we went and a lovely run from Ben saw him stopped just yards short, a lovely offload saw the ball into Aaron ‘Kiwi magic’ Gee’s hands who crashed over to take the lead once more. When another maul saw Tom Halligey ground the pill, this took us eight points clear and only minutes to play and surely we could relax! Pulborough weren’t finished however, as they scored with the last play of the game to leave us the victors by a point!
Sitting in the changing room after, with my hand still sore from shaking all 25 Pulborough players hands, we were obviously relived, but also slightly baffled. We know when we have the ball, we are a really good team. Too many mistakes, and this week particularly, penalties, really hurt us. We have now played half the season and if we want to continue climbing the table, we need to play with more control and discipline.
Massive thanks to all the boys who stepped up to fill our holes this week - you were all tremendous! A special mention to Liam King who came on for the final quarter to play his first senior game at prop (Such a shame Pulborough elected to go uncontested late on), Having Ben back was a huge plus - you were really excellent mate, Aaron Gee was rolling back the years in his first second team game start for a while, but my MoM this week was Jonny Gibbs who was electric in attack and defence!