Old Yardleians RFC: Club News

The Lurking Match Report

Wed, 01 Aug 2007 12:00

With Camp Hill conceding our GBML game early doors and Five Ways doing the same to Aston Old Edwardians 3rds this fixture was a bit of a no brainer to fill in our last scheduled league Saturday of the season. Now I say no brainer but I was a touch suspicious at Aston's almost pathological desire to play this snow postponed game, given that they had rung Mark virtually every week since the 26th January to play this game, offering to play on any free Saturday, under lights on a Wednesday or under lights on a Friday; and especially as the fixture was a dead rubber as far as the league was concerned as Aston, whilst second in the table, having lost five league games previous to this. So I can only assume they were just determined to ruin our perfect season. So it was off to Sunnybank Avenue we went in weather more suited to cricket. So no change in the forwards from last week, at loosehead Shannon "Stepmeister" Killarney, Mark "Pie Chucker" Baldwin & Pete "Fudge" Butler at tight, John "Casper" Lonie alongside Phil "BMT" Gouldbourn in the boiler room, with a back row of Marcus "Shark" Hope, Nick "the Assassin" Levey & Rupert "the Major" Young at No.8. A few changes amongst the backs; with the General off bugg*ring Claverdon seconds Junior Williams responded to the call at scrum partnering Max "Gimo" Gimson at fly half, with Nick "Barrel" Palmer alongside Tony "Fitz" Fitzgerald in midfield with a back three of Dave "Blade" McGill, Pat "Paddy" Waldron-Healy & Dave "Ralph" Rollins at full back. A full bench this week in Bill "Bilbo" Burrows, Alan "the Colt" Arkell, Rick "Swing" Lowe, Paul "Goose" Gower, Mike "Nearly" Neary & bringing up the rear for the final time Captain Slow. Now I am a bit dismayed to see who's refereeing, he being a former Aston player, with selective vision and who also appears on several of their 3rd team photographs, but was expecting it to be honest. Mind he did give me one piece of good advice in pointing out the very short dead ball area, I wonder if he did the same for them? Stunt skipper Shark loses the toss, and Aston unsurprisingly elect to play up the slope in the first half on a pitch marked out in white for soccer and red for rugby, so bear with me as some of my geographical locations may be a little out. Nerves or ambition means Max's kick off goes straight into touch, so we come back for the scrum and the forwards get an early opportunity to get acquainted, we put them under pressure but they get it away cleanly enough to their fly half who kicks ahead, it bounces infield on the ten evading both Paddy and the Aston chaser who both collide in the process whilst the ball harmlessly bobbles into touch. So throw to Yards on the ten metre line, Pie Chucker hits BMT at four and we drive, now I thought the General was vocal but blimey Junior gives it real large, but it works as we reach halfway before we're forced to spin; Junior to Max, he brings Barrel in on the first scissors of the day, but it's spilled in contact but the whistle goes for Aston straying offside, penalty Yards. Max puts it out on their ten metre line, it's a bit of a stretch but Phil takes the pastry at four, and we spin, Junior to Max, double dummy flat pop to Blade, he makes some yards before taking it into contact, we recycle and Junior sets off and jinks his way all the way to the Aston twenty two before getting hauled down, the ball comes loose but the tall fella knocks on trying to scoop it up on the run; scrum Aston then on their twenty two. Now their front row go aerial in this one but we get pinged for pushing too early or some such nonsense. They kick to clear their lines the ball going out a few metres inside their ten. They just about secure their own ball as Shark gets a hand in and they spin and our GB Vets team mate & danger man Darren Gardner comes on a typical powerhouse run through midfield but he's stopped in his tracks by a cracking tackle by Junior. Aston recycle and they go route one again via their powerfully built centre, and this time it's Barrel who makes the tackle; again they go short this time through the other centre, he of the colourful language & shorts, but they cough it up just on halfway and we get the scrum. They can't budge our Eight, and we spin, Junior to Max, Barrel in on the scissors, he boshes his way through the first tackle, then goes to ground and the Massive pile in; Shannon picks up pops to Max who puts one over the top, the ball going out a few metres outside their twenty two. At the lineout we're pinged for jumping across (I agreed with that one) and Aston once more clear their lines the ball going out around halfway. The ball goes loose at the lineout, Junior scoops it up and off he goes, Aston struggling to get a hand on him. Finally he's halted and we set & Ralph steps in at nine, passes to Max but he accidentally collides with Nick, but ref's been playing penalty advantage to us so we opt for a pot at goal. The kick falls short and straight into the arms of Darren who sets off uphill and again it's another great tackle from Junior on the twenty two, but he's pinged I assume for not releasing. They kick for touch the ball going out a metre or so inside their half, but at the lineout we're pinged again this time for playing the man in the air, then we're marched back another ten for backchat (groan). They kick for for territory the ball going out a couple of metres inside our twenty two. Their skipper takes at two and they spin but the ball comically loops over the fly half and it's knocked on; scrum Yards. Steady ball, Junior to Max and he bangs it down field, it's a cracker too the ball rolling out midway between their ten & twenty two, and obligingly one of their spectators touches the ball preventing a quick throw. They take cleanly at two and drive it on a yard before spinning it out to the fly half, not the greatest boot on him but he teases Blade enough for him to spill it; scrum Aston just inside halfway. Fudge & the boys get the nudge on and No.8 Darren is forced to pick & go blind and Blade makes the initial hit, then young Levey piles in; they recycle & spin again and the fly half kicks long, too long as it goes all the way and we come back for the scrum a metre or so in front of our ten. Junior then cleverly draws a penalty and we kick for touch. We catch & drive, but stall so we spin and Fitz comes back on his first pair of the day but the ball is knocked from his grasp in the hit; no matter though as we've picked up a penalty for one of those myriad of offences at the lineout. Max kicks for position the ball going out about 5 metres inside their twenty two, unfortunately we knock on at the line and Aston get the scrum. We dismantle their scrum at this one, as they find reverse gear and No.8 Darren has to hurriedly fly hack the ball into touch. Mark hits Phil at four and imagine everybody in Perry Common hears Junior call "drive", ref signals penalty advantage, we move it on a yard before he blows, and Shark calls scrum. Junior goes, beats his opposite number before he gets stopped, offloads to Shannon, trademark dummy and is tackled just short of the line, we recycle, Barrel has a go from short range but it's spilled forward just as he tries to ground it and they get a twenty two drop out. Their skipper takes the opportunity to have a quick rant at his troops. It's a high one and their skipper leads by example as he recovers their kick and sets off down the touchline, before being tackled by ours, and the support comes in from both sides, looks like some bridging but it's us who get pinged for coming over the top, Mark & their skipper are last up from the pile and exchange some good natured banter. Not the best of clearances from the Aston fly half as it goes out on halfway, the throw seems to hang in the air for ages before their skipper takes at two, and spin to Darren who's loitering with intent out in midfield, but Nick makes the tackle, they recycle and spin again; the ref signals penalty advantage to Aston, and they hoof up the park where it's taken by Ralph who returns the favour and it's taken by the shorter centre, before the ref decides no advantage gained (despite them kicking it away mind). They kick to touch, the ball going out three or four metres outside our twenty two. They take cleanly and spin, the inside centre comes on the scissors from a standing start, he bounces Junior off, but our scrum half is up like a shot and nails him second time around from behind, they recycle and spin but the fly half knocks on; scrum Yards. Steady scrum, Junior looks around, goes with Max, Ralph offers himself but Max sends the long bomb down field, the young fullback lets it bounce, and does well to recover it and evade Blade's attentions before kicking, however, the ball doesn't find touch but Nick Levey instead and he sets off and takes it into contact. Shannon comes away with it, finds Ralph, to Max, no support so chips ahead, the ball's taken cleanly enough but the Aston player's wayward pass goes bouncing into into touch for a Yards lineout. We have short break for an injury to Nick before the game continues with the lineout. Trademark catch & drive, and we start to nudge forward, their big second row Mick doing the most to hinder our progress; ref signals another penalty advantage before the ball comes out, Barrel tries to make something of it, breaks the tackle and pops it inside to Blade, still advantage, offloads to Max and he tries the drop goal, but it goes wide so we come back for the penalty. Max puts it into touch a metre outside their five, big Phil takes at four, we drive, they stand firm, so we spin, Junior to Max, Barrel on the scissors, to Blade, he's stood up, Junior finds Ralph, feigns the drop goal, spots the gap, gets inside the five, sets it up, Junior spins to Max, to Barrel, out the back of his hand to an unsuspecting Blade, but we've lost about five or six metres. Shannon's the next to have a go, but whistle goes, Aston offside...no kidding. We briefly consider the pot at goal before Shark opts for the attacking scrum, we get the nudge, Shark hangs onto his man, Junior picks up steps inside, the gap opens up and he darts over for the game's first score 5-0but Ralph's conversion attempt is unsuccessful. Shannon with a calf pull has to admit defeat and limps off and versatile Bilbo comes onto to replace him in the front row with about nine minutes of the half remaining. The Aston restart doesn't make the ten so we come back for a scrum centre field. Rock steady, Junior to Max, he rifles one down the slope, the fullback takes it at the second attempt, and the delay is all Blade needs as he charges down the fullback's clearance kick, gathers and gallops over to score beneath the posts 10-0 Ralph has to go old skool as the kicking tee has temporarily been misplaced but he makes no mistake to increase our lead to 12-0 but moans all the way back to the halfway line. At which point Nick too has to take a bow and comes off nursing his ribs and Goose goes onto the flank. The restart evades all the usual suspects and is eventually picked up by Junior, he takes it on a yard before going to ground, Bilbo picks up and passes to Ralph who kicks long to clear, unfortunately the ref spots the ball has been passed back into our twenty two so Aston get the lineout a few metres inside. Bit of a delay with the throw and Goose makes an instant impact coming through their line; they manage to get it away and their centre from a standing start bludgeons his way through our defence making about fifteen metres before offloading to his forwards, they get to within a metre or so of our line before setting up Darren on the crash, but he's met by Goose who drives him back and the Massive pile in, great goal line defence here and whistle goes as ball is not coming out anytime soon, but they get the put in at the scrum, it certainly wasn't a ruck ergo should have been our ball!! Anyway they retain their own ball and come blind through the smaller of the two centres, and ok Blade's tackle is marginally high, but then the centre isn't exactly the tallest player on the pitch, but judging by the reaction by the home crowd you'd have thought Magoo had committed murder. Anyway penalty to Aston on our five metre line, they pop it into the corner for an attacking lineout, They tap down at two and big Phil stops the man coming through the line, so they have to set then spin, Darren's out there as a decoy as they feed the big centre instead, he sees a gap but gets tonked by Goose and we turn it over, Ralph in at nine feeds Max who sends it long, No.8 Darren has to readjust before setting off back towards our lines, he brushes off Blade (no disgrace mate), and their flanker checks Goose's next defensive effort, so he gets a slap for his trouble and both flankers get to cool their heels for ten minutes. The game restarts with a scrum to Aston around our twenty two, then we get pinged for something technical no doubt and they put it back in the corner, a metre or so outside our five. Shortened line, they take at two and spin to guess who in midfield, he gets up a head of steam but is stopped dead initially by Fridge, then BMT & Junior lend a hand, they get it back but are given another penalty before they can do anything with it. They take it quickly, no surprise who but he's tackled on the line by Casper, now I imagine that might have hurt, they recycle and go again and their big centre breaks our line but forgets to stop and embarrassingly crosses the dead ball line...perhaps they didn't get that reminder then! And with that the ref blows for halftime. Halftime 12-0, I can't remember what I said, but the isotonics are still in Mark's boot, but we make no more unforced changes. The game restarts at 3:57pm BMT takes the catch and sets off up the slope, he breaks the first couple of tackles before being double teamed by their fly half & centre, but we retain possession. Junior spins to Max who goes for the long miss pass and it's nudged forward, so Aston get the half's first scrum. But we take it against the head & spin, Junior to Max who bangs it down long but it agonisingly goes out on the full for a lineout to Aston a few metres in front of our ten. Again the forwards come up trumps and pinch it and the Refrigerator boshes his way through their forwards and over the halfway line before he's stopped, lays it back to Rupe in support, we set, ball takes a while to emerge; BMT to Max he rifles one ahead that goes into touch about eight or nine metres from their try line..absolute corker! They take cleanly but the pass back goes over the dead ball line for a five metre scrum to Yards, and it's seven against seven. We drive them back the pill safe between Rupe's ankles but right the death Aston stick a foot in, penalty Yards (should've been penalty try). Shark opts for another scrum, Rupe picks & goes, he's held, Junior's in there, it's stuck, another penalty advantage Yards, Barrel has a go short, no joy so we change the direction of attack, spin short, quick hands and Paddy goes over to score in the corner 17-0. A great kick from Ralph adds the extras 19-0. Bilbo cleanly takes the restart, but it gets spilled as we gather round and one of their youngsters comes away with it and kicks ahead; Ralph takes the catch and Junior comes in to support, then Max & Phil, ref signals penalty Yards, so Barrel goes Premiership & does the deliberate knock on. So about seven or eight minutes in then and Goose comes back on as does his opposite number & we're back up to a full compliment. Cracking kick by Max uphill goes out just inside their ten metre line. Chucker hits Phil at four, imperious above the rest and we drive it on a yard before Junior releases Max who goes solo & jinks his way through & over their twenty two, he looks for support finds our one "youngster" & Paddy pins his ears back and goes for the line, looks like he's scored under the posts, but ref deems he's knocked it on in the placement of the ball on the whitewash, tough call, scrum Aston on their five. We put them under pressure and their scrum creaks and it gets nudged forward under pressure from Junior and we get the next one. But in the process Junior's hamstring has gone, so versatile Ralph moves up to scrum half for the next one and Mike comes on at fullback. Ralph puts in, comes round to the back, has a quick look, sees a gap and darts over to score 24-0.He steps up and converts his own work 26-0 with about twelve minutes gone. Casper & his bag of rusty spanners that pass as a knee comes off and the Colt Arkell comes on in the second row. Goose takes the restart, Arkell's to him, Ralph to Max who wangs it up the slope, their winger takes it cleanly and sets off, he's felled by Blade, but manages to get the offload away to one of their youngsters, he collides with the diminutive centre; but they get away with it but our tackles keep flying in, but eventually Aston are awarded a scrum, and from that a free-kick which Darren takes quickly & runs through the middle of us to score under the posts, soft try don't think anybody laid a glove on him, and they convert 26-7. Max's restart goes dead so we come back for an Aston scrum on halfway, it wheels, looks to have gone all they way round,but Aston get to have another go; then we get marched back ten for chat despite them being in his ear all the time and with that I lose interest for a bit and chat to Casper about retirement. We rejoin the action a few minutes later with a lineout to Yards which Phil takes at four, and we drive our truck & trailer towards halfway where we spin and Max fires one up the slope, their young fullback takes it inside their twenty two, sets off then gets excited and puts one up, we allow it to bounce but their fullback knocks it on. Scrum Yards we secure & kick to touch. At which point Pie Chucker comes off and Swing Lowe comes on. They take at two, spin and hoof it down the slope, the ball going out a metre or two inside our own half and I make it we've been playing about 23 minutes. Rick hits Phil at four, we gather round and set off up the slope, Ralph calls for it, spins to Max and Barrel comes in on the scissors scything through the first line of defence before going to ground. Big Arks clears them out Ralph picks up and pops to Phil who unfortunately knocks it on. Scrum to Aston around halfway, from which they get another shall we say "technical penalty" which they welly down into the corner. Now I didn't see exactly what happened but I'm told the ball doesn't make touch, we knock on, they recover & I look up just in time to see one of their youngsters going over to score 26-12 the conversion is missed but perhaps they're not done just yet. Our restart finds their go to man and he sets about going to, but he's eventually brought to a halt by the combined efforts of Goose, Rupe & big Phil, we've got him turned our way but sir decides we've probably infringed his human rights and gives them another penalty. I make it we've played 27 minutes so they kick for the corner, but the ball doesn't find touch but Blade instead who returns it back upfield the ball going out midway between our twenty two and ten metre lines. They shorten the lineout & throw long, they knock it on and the ref gives them a penalty...go figure, but you can sense our frustration rising. Darren takes it quickly (is it me or are they a bit of a one man team) and it's a top tackle by Fudge who rolls him over and Darren's pinged for holding on, Aston have a word too many and lose another ten metres for their trouble...hold the front page! Max clears to touch the ball going out just inside our half. Rick throws, Phil takes, whistles goes, frustration grows, not straight, scrum Aston (that's poetry). We put them under pressure but they get it away, their smaller centre pin balls off both Barrel & Fitz, offloads to his winger but he's driven into touch on the far side a few metres outside our twenty two. Line out Yards Phil takes at four, Ralph back to Max, but it's right at the end of Max's fingertips and inches off the deck when he gets it and it's nudged forward, scrum Aston from which they get another "technical penalty", again they take it quickly through Darren and get to our line, and quick ball sees their big centre crash through our defensive line to score under under the posts 26-17. Simple conversion 26-19 and just a score in it. Again we are unfortunate in picking out their No.8 at the restart who sets off through the middle of some tired looking bodies and it's Barrel this time who brings him down, the ball goes loose, we're over it like a rash and they're pinged for hands in. Magnificent kick up the park by Max, the ball going out about eight metres from their line. Rick hits Phil at four and we drive towards the line, the ball safe at the back with Marcus, we pass the five, and at the death Ralph takes it, sees the gap and dives over to score his second of the day 31-19 Slow breathes again, and it's a game of two scrum halves. Ralph again converts his own score 33-19. Now bearing in mind he's just taken the conversion and is running to get back into position for the restart, Aston take a quick restart and the ball strikes the back of a still retreating Ralph, so they get a bl**dy penalty for that as well! They kick for touch, and the lineout takes place on our ten with about three minutes to go. They take cleanly and try to come through the line but Bilbo's having none of it, so they spin wide and again from a standing start their big centre makes yards but we get enough bodies to him and he goes to ground but they get another penalty, probably for not releasing in the tackle, God knows enough hands made the tackle! They go quickly and their winger goes over in the corner 33-24 but the conversion is missed. Walking back Marcus' likely broken nose is bleeding like a tap so Captain Slow relieves him of his duties despite Casper's kind offer, and our Welshman takes over the mike for another "3 minutes remaining" (not that he bl**dy said anything into it mind). Also in the last attack Mike's last ditch tackle attempt earns him a broken wrist. Despite another couple of penalties in the dying minutes, and the home crowd roaring them on we stand firm, and the rubber handed stopwatch finally indicates time. Cue lots of handshakes for a job well done and another unbeaten season......must be like buses, but I wont be around to catch the next one. To their credit Aston were very generous in defeat, giving us many congratulations on the title and the two sides even line up for a joint photo by Darren's other half Nikki (if & when I get a copy I'll send it out). Final score 33-24 Final age 693 averaging just over 46. Finally a couple of words for Bilbo's crunching tackle on Darren....sorry Bill I missed it! But in the words of our Welsh correspondent "big break by Aston's Darren who had run 20 metres getting up a full head of steam when on halfway he ran into the Police Brick Wall that is Bill Burrows. Large bang and down went Darren." This week twenty Men in Dirty Shirts good & true, another perfect season and a league title to boot. Thank you Gentlemen & goodnight. Just Plain Slow Oh one last thing anybody lose a pair of grey socks with the words Smooth Operator & Sylvester the Cat on them at Yardley & District...don't worry you can be assured your reply will be treated in the strictest confidence! MARTYN CARTWRIGHT

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