Another miserable Saturday, another jaunt over to a club in Leeds. I’ve probably played there before but if I have it doesn’t come to mind. Probably just the Alzheimers kicking in! Luckily I’ve never had concussion, well not that I can remember anyway. Although 2000-2010 are a mystery to me.
It’s the first time in my 4 years as captain, that I’ve been present but unable to lead out the A-Team. Last Sunday my wife smiled sweetly at me and asked me to perform my husbandly duties. I tried, I really did but I couldn’t even get up. So sadly I failed to do the washing, ironing, cooking and cleaning! Don’t ever marry a feminist! She just shook her head and told me she wasn’t mad…. but she was disappointed! Nothing I don’t hear regularly about most aspects of my marriage. Then I was told to consider my imminent retirement. Luckily I don’t pay any attention to that lunatic! So having two shoulders that are in constant pain and drastically reduce the movement of my arms, now joined by my right knee flaring up is no reason to quit! I just have to be aware that so much as a stubbed left toe may be fatal, or at least reduce me to a jibbering pile of spasming scar tissue. So I’ve decided to leave it til the second half to make an impact!
We had a strong team before the Friday night cry offs. So once again it was going to be a tough old fight in the mud, a big hindrance to the electric paced, champagne rugby we normally produce. We had once again decided to go with the cunning plan of playing without any recognised half backs. That’ll completely fool ‘em! After seeing both Steven ‘Spike’ Rothery and Chris Duffy hang up their boots this year. Bailey Hartg the A-Team ‘Head of Students’ tried his hand at 10 and Toby Styles, normally flank or wing tried to combine both to play scrum half.
We had a big pack to be led by replacement leader ‘Captain Cook’, whilst with the absence of Duncan Cleave, Eddie Newman received the honour of leading the back line. Will Greenan player on the wing for his first game back in three years. Eddie Newman returned to full back so he could stand at the back shouting clueless nonsense. Just as he did as a goalie in his professional football career! It was a well oiled machine that spread fear into the hearts of any All Blacks coach.
So once again the board was set and the game was in the hands of the gods. They kicked off deep and we began to drive it back till an unfortunate offload was intercepted and they broke through the line. Luckily hard working forward Sam Dunger got back to prevent the try. We fought off the following attack and things looked pretty good. Ben Royds, playing 8, was highly dominant at the lineout and our scrum led by Captain Cook and Joe Shiel was very strong. We applied ample pressure and on the 10 minute mark Shiel scored the first try of the game. A simple drive over from 5 yards out. Bread and butter for the handsome prop forward. Eddie Newman our 6th kicker of the year stepped up and hooked the kick left of the uprights.
We went again and the game looked one sided. On 20 minutes Eddie Newman crossed out wide after a shimmy from Bailey, on his debut at 10, made space before slick hands got the ball to Newman. Newman once again just missed the conversion, if only he had practised his footballing skills!
We dominated another scrum and their tight head couldn’t continue. So we were ordered to also go down to 14 men. It was then announced it would be unopposed scrummaging. They applied some pressure and managed to score and convert.
Things started to get worse then as Eddie Newman our powerful no nonsense full back, had to come off with a hamstring injury. Just before the stroke of half time they scored again.
We went into the break losing 12-10. Completely against the run of play. Second half, playing up the slope was going to be interesting.
The second half kicked off and they scored within a minute. Their seven squeezed through a gap then dribbled the ball three times to score. They converted the try. Then our players woke up. A powerhouse performance from Andrew Jiri who was outstanding all day. He made at least 5 sacks (tackles behind gain line or knock attacker over backwards) and was powerful going forward from 12. Joe Carter also had several runs but the colossal man is happy with the ball, but sadly is allergic to rucking.
We then attacked and Bailey scored his first try for the A-Team after a neat show and go. Sadly Ben Royds went down with a twisted knee. So Eddie who was hopping mad, hopped onto the field. A true hero!
We attacked again and Eddie got the ball and he hopped left, he side hopped right. He made a hopping good half break. Then when he finished he hopped straight back off the field. Announcing that he definitely can’t play with only one hamstring, who knew?
For the last ten minutes our lads tired and they managed to kick a couple of penalties to take the game out of reach.
Burley 25-17 HRUFC A-Team
Man of the Match Andrew Jiri
Strong performances from Ben Royds, Joe Shiel and Sam Dunger. Valiant effort from Eddie Newman.
Another under strength A-Team performance where we were so close. Sadly I was unable to play any part due to severe softie syndrome. Big thanks to Joe Shiel the only non-regular player who turned out for us. His throwing was excellent on the day and contributed well around the field.