Loonie’s Pose Big Questions!
By Matt Marriott
20 - 32
We travelled to Hellingly with one fit sub and a slightly strange team sheet. The club’s hooker crisis had deepened during the week and so our 3’s skipper and talismanic prop Guy, agreed to step up and wear the blue 2 shirt which really helped us out of a hole. None of the front row could throw in to the line-out however, so Lukis took on this duty from 9, while Lee slotted in to the scrum half position from the wing at the set piece. Things didn’t get off to the best of starts when the excellent French ref didn’t enjoy my fluent French wit, in the pre match briefing, as much as the rest of us! Oh well, live and learn!
I had never played on the Hellingly second pitch before, and although it was in excellent condition, was a little small for our style of running rugby, and really suited our large opponents in the opening exchanges. Hellingly are a much changed side from last year. While retaining their size, they have now added some potent attacking talent in the backs and some really dangerous strike runners. The small pitch meant that one mistake, or kick from the oppo, took play from one end to the other. Any preconception we had that this was going to be a walk in the park was quickly put to bed.
Eventually a penalty was won on the 22 which Jake slotted to calm the nerves and settle us down. This lead didn’t last long though as an excellent rumble saw Hellingly cross the whitewash for the first five pointer of the day. Ross, Tom and Bertie fed by Lukis, started to bash holes, Gus and Liam were sniping everywhere and we started to look good. Danny was getting the backs moving beautifully and Jake was carving through at will. One offload too many foiled a couple of lovely attacks until Guy crashed though the heart of the Loonie’s defence, stretched and got the ball down on the line to bring the lead back. Again we found ourselves pinned back and a pen was conceded and converted to leave the half time score at 10 - 8 in favour of our hosts.
Some stirring words from our king of bacon and skipper for the day, Bertram Beanland, got the boys revved up and the second period began with great promise, as we worked the ball up the pitch, stretching Hellingly from left to right until their defence ran out, and Jake could stride round under the sticks for an excellent converted score. Hellingly forced another penalty which was beautifully converted before the excellent Gus broke through again to give us a bit of breathing space with the scoreboard showing 13 - 20. A very kickable penalty under the posts was turned down and our attack came to nothing, Hellingly hurtled down the pitch and the indomitable Loonie’s prop, Matt Honeyball, crashed over with most of our team on his back, unable to stop this human bulldozer. The score was now locked at 20 all, with only the last quarter to play. Hellingly were whooping and we were in danger of letting our heads drop.
As I looked at our battered boys, I was so proud at this point. Danny, Dodge, Liam and Ross were all really struggling, but none would leave the field, we huddled tight and lifted our heads, looking to our team mates and urging each other on for glory. We were a team transformed!
From the off, Bertie battered into the wall of yellow. Quick ball saw Tom Halligey with a bit of space, the defenders bit on him leaving space for Marriott Snr to collect the delightful offload, and cross unopposed. Danny converted to give us a seven point lead, but we weren’t done yet. A bit of niggley handbags only caused us to fire even more, and lovely controlled, aggressive rugby saw us work up the pitch until Tom smashed over. He was judged to have been held up, but made no mistake when he picked and went from the resulting five yard scrum to put the game out of Hellingly’s grasp.
Our defence held firm for the last few minutes until the ref blew to finish an exhilarating match 20 - 32. Hellingly played better than I have ever known them to, and were really so impressive. I think they will be strong contenders if they keep this team together - great bunch of boys. Thank you so much for a great day!
My MoM goes jointly to Jake Radcliffe and Gus Nye. Outstanding both! They both, with Joey, will be sorely missed as they start uni this year! DotD (Nearly quite literally) goes to Bertie, who in a trademark bust and trundle, had his shorts lowered. Never one to be ashamed of his enormous but pert body, he ran on, with his moon sized buttocks available for all to see. I heard a spectator shout (I think it was my Dad), “Good run, keep going, pull your trousers up!!”