13 April 2013
Erith 16 - 15 RBSRFC
We duly turned up for the last match of the scheduled season knowing Erith had lost only one match thus far but that we had run them a close match months ago at our place. The team had a few adjustments especially in the front row given that Jack Marshall and Matt Frost were both there but in civvies not kit due to different issues preventing them from playing. Paul Harper also let discretion take the better part of valour for most of the match but otherwise the team was strong and self confident and looked forward to finishing in style and upsetting the hosts.
We went back to our old ways, however, of a hesitant first 20 minutes in which mostly we tried to work out what Erith had to chuck at us rather than trying out our game and taking it to them. Given how poorly we played early on it was surprising that Erith did not grab a few tries and take the game beyond us but their finishing was poor. It was their kicker who got them within 5 metres from a penalty kick (for who knows what, none of our supporters players or indeed the opposition could work out which law book the referee had studied in the build up to this game) at it felt inevitable that Erith opened with a try from that lineout and converted it. To many of us RBSRFC supporters who were watching, it appeared due to be the first of many and as if we would go back knowing how Erith had amassed such an amazing set of result to this point.
But the players thought otherwise and were spurred into playing much more of a confident go-forward match (as directed in the warm up but for some reason "delayed" in delivery) and we started to find holes and to make ground. After a few strong probes towards the line, it was Mahoney who broke their final defence and landed heavily to score a try which Gobbie converted and we were undoubtedly back in it - Mahoney left injured from his fall and half time came tolerably soon after.
Unfortunately for us, Erith's kicker would pop 3 points over a couple of time and yet fortunately for us, he was asked to go for touch or even they took tap and run options which looked kickable and so the game stayed potentially winnable especially as we were growing in confidence to the hosts growing frustration. All 16 players on the pitch who were determined to see what they could do to achieve an Erith victory seemed to get more and more confused and irrational but it was clear that we might get what it took. Our growing confidence and persistence was eventually rewarded when slick hands got the ball to Albie wide out to the right who had the strength to cross the line and the skill to ground it while being tackled and slipping on the increasingly wet and difficult surface. To hope that we might convert was the sort of optimism we were feeling but the angle the wind and the trickiness underfoot narrowly denied us, so we needed anotehr score to win.
Once or twice the rub of the whistle did go our way including a penalty reversal when JJ whom the ref had spotted offside in a ruck and indeed had just pinged was wiped out by an Erith player who came from a long way to "deal with him" illegally instead of letting the ref do his job. Not only did this give us 3 points once Gobbie got the penatly and so the lead but it also ensured that Erith would play out the match with 14 on the pitch.
What followed is just bad luck and is how cookies crumble. We did not deal with the restart kick well, we ceded possession rather stupidly, but we were holding them out and in a masterful move Mahoney (now back on) robbed thier ball carrier, waited for support, went down to form a nice ruck and proceded to place the ball beautifully at the back of that ruck. What the referee saw was a Mahoney who was not exercising his right under the laws to place the ball but rather who was "holding on". I suppose maybe the referee had a poor line of sight or some other impediment which led to this remarkable decision but Erith's kicker managed to take those three points and then Erith successfully played out the restart in ways which those who like fairplay within the laws of the game might have felt was "interesting" but for all of my sense of having been robbed a few facts occur to me now which we had discussed this season and in previous seasons and the real reasons we did not win today are these.
1 when a referee gives a penalty against us our task is to get back 10 and defend - engage in conversation with the ref in the bar afterwards with a win on the board and a pint in your hand
2 when we have key decisions and plenty of time to go, think about the most likely way to score points - Erith was not the only team today to decide "not to go for goal" from kickable penalties
3 play our game don't anxiously watch to see what the opposition has to offer - we showed them too much respect in the early part of the match and only later did we realise they were fallible if we ran straight and hard
4 forwards need to train in set piece work - both our scrummaging and our lineout work let us down too often today.
There are loads of positives - we nearly took it from them, we'd run good support lines and we often rucked well and took short passes well in bad conditions. We did talk to each other and care and operate as a team. We have a platform off which we could have a fabulous season together in 2013-14 and we can talk about that and the season now closing this Friday at Annual Dinner. If you are coming but I don't yet know that, please get in touch As Soon As Possible.
6 April 2013
RBSRFC 20 - 10 Met Police (Hayes)
Thank you to everyone that came down for both the 1's and the 2's. The 1's, well aware that they had a strong team had prepared for the drubbing of HSBC followed swiftly by the shoeing of Alex Jolly, had to get there game faces on pretty quickly. HSBC had withdrawn and Met police who so from last times match showed themselves to be nothing more then thuggish traffic wardens!
So as predicted from the last game there wingers did not see much of the ball and when they did either Si Moore, Albie or Ginger Joe smashed them or put them into touch. With Si unlucky not to score with a breakaway and Ginger Joe dubiously robbed by lineman decision. That left the rest of the game to be played through the centers and the forwards for the most part. As far as that was concerned it was business as usual.
The Stassen back line clicked instantly and put Chris through on some really nice lines. Tom Burden once again left their forwards from kickoff playing hot potato with the ball, muttering 'please not me, please not me'! I spent most of my ref brownie points trying to keep Ben on the pitch, who the opposition simply could not handle so resorted to punching (shock horror).... result 14 players for 10 mins, nice! I can see why, he was everywhere all at once, I saw more of Ben in 1 game then I see my own parents in a year! Talking of appearing from nowhere having Pete at scrum half really made a difference he would pop up from behind me in a flash whip the ball out and disappear just as quickly.
It was the quick ball the Pete gave that allowed us to make the breaks for the tries. The scrum was dominant, save for some binding issues on Jack that I still do not understand. Wave after wave of rucks, mauls, kicking, and punching the props and second rows endured, overcame and eventually dominated. I still have no idea why the small guys go for Tyrone, if I saw mike Tyson I would not want to step into the ring with him! Now I save the best for last Mat 'Snowie' Frost (spelt correctly) continues to defy the law of physics by running at/around/through/over/under any man and his dog on the Met Police team gaining ground every time he got the ball which, unfortunately was often in our own 22 leaving him to make the hard yards and clear our lines the hard way (which he dully did, every time).
Thank you to Tom Ballaster for coming on and I hope Mahoneys shoulder is not as bad as first thought, we need you next week!
We had 31 Players down yesterday which was a great result for the club and I hope the seconds enjoyed the run out as much as we enjoyed watching. Next week is the showdown with Erith 1's. Should we beat Erith 1's we will organize a match against Footscray that will send us at least second in the league and get Paul Harpers picture holding a runners up rosette posted on the Kent RFU web page!! A big win yesterday against Met police that meant a lot to me and from the looks on peoples faces, the team. Until next week boys!