Honour restored as A-Team get back to winning way.
Saturday saw The A-Team run out for the third time this season, after a win and then a surprise loss it was time to get the ship back on an even keel. This week was against Halifax 2’s but due to the PTSD they were all still suffering from Cossey’s knock out tackle they were all busy shopping.
Luckily ‘Magic’ Mike Fort got us a replacement fixture at home vs Yarnbury. We had a pretty strong team but there’s such a range of teams this year that nothing was certain. Vice Captain Josh ‘Cooky’ Cook was to return to the front row, trying his luck after breaking his collarbone 5 weeks ago. Joe ‘Hodgy’ Hodgson sadly was unavailable due to losing his phone on a drunken escapade so had to return home to beg his ‘rents for a new one. Howard Hanks came out of retirement for a run out, having been at the A-Team reunion dinner and deciding it was definitely time to have another crack at the big time! James Giblin returned to the 10 shirt after impressing at 9 in the opening game. Veterans Michael Stancliffe and Jamie Rhodes agreed to lend a hand for 20 mins. Then there was the young guns! Archie Stancliffe started at 8; Nathan ‘Big Boy’ Boucher made his debut on the bench; Wraggy with his ginger mop top; debutant tax dodger Nando. When I later asked him what his full name was he said ‘er, Fer-NANDO’ Not the sharpest tool in Spain but this is an equal opportunities outfit! Toby McKinell a young front row away in the forces made his open age debut in the second row. So we had a perfect blend of youth and experience, the only thing left was to see whether the rugby Gods smiled on us favourably, or planned to toy with us, only time would tell.
The weather was cold with sporadic clouds, we were on the back pitches and the warm up wasn’t great all of which could be considered bad omens. However, I’m a firm believer that attitude and work rate can overcome near insurmountable odds so I wasn’t too fazed. We were ready to go. Two minutes to kick off there seemed to be something missing. Where the chuff is the ref? With an impressive 10 seconds left he finally appeared only to insist on giving both teams a lecture on the correct way to scrummage.
So we kicked off late and got to work, we immediately got the upper hand and attacked on our third phase, two of our forwards offered themselves to Giblin but he stalled only to pass late to me as I ran clean through the newly created hole. 10 metres out, only the full back to beat, I used the secret weapon, yes ladies and gentleman out came the legendary ‘snake hips’! The hips went left, the hips went right they did the hula and the full back didn’t buy any of it! But little did he know, it was all part of the plan and I released a pass to my left for Giblin to go under the posts.
We went again and before too long gained a penalty from our heavily dominant front row. 30m out, kicked the corner it was lineout time, Archie soared, brought it down and we drove for the line, there was little resistance and it was Hanks that came up with the try.
Just before the 10 minute mark we approached the line and I crashed it up, held a yard or two from the line I turned and popped the ball to Toby Mckinnell. It was exactly where he wanted it! Too low, and about a yard behind him, somehow his arms stretched like Stretch Armstrong and he managed to gather the ball and dived for the line. He was going to be short, so I added a little weight to keep him sliding forward to the line for the try.
The fourth try came from a decent half break from Eddie Newman, he offloaded to Archie who had the legs to run it in from the half way line.
Then the Ref took a funny turn, deciding to start complaining about all sorts of strange infringements, the Gods were playing silly buggers! We were penalised time and time again. Nathan ‘Big Boy’ Boucher came on at a mere 20 stones at loose head to add some dynamism to the front row. He was a formidable sight. Has anyone got any XXXXXL shorts? Sadly, he was immediately penalised for incorrect binding, turns out it was his first time playing since the under 12’s! So the front row all gave him a thesis on the dark arts of the game. Big Boy ate it all up and we cracked on. But after the 6th penalty we succumbed to a push over lineout.
They then came at us and Archie absolutely creased a lad over backwards. Causing a turnover which seemed to amuse the Gods, restoring balance to the Rugbyverse and shortly after Toby McKInell scored again, it was a high skill manoeuvre, he took route one, broke the tackle then without even considering a step he ran straight over the full back, injuring him in the process. Followed by another couple of tries, it all became a bit of a blur.
When half time came and it became clear it was going to be an easy win and it was time to get all the bench on. So big Jamie Rhodes came on at 8, Fer-NANDO (strong like a bull) came on. on the wing. Michael Stancliffe and Andy Lyon came on in the second row. Neil Thornton came onto the other wing and Glen Keogh at full back.
We kicked off, they scored first. After some impressive defending from Neil Thornton a full length dive tackle! Finger tip stuff, a try saver, impressive! Sadly, it wasn’t enough. All our changes had rocked the boat a little. I spoke loudly and clearly about the importance of ball retention after a score. Or at least I swore and called a few people useless, it’s all about the correct motivation!
Next, we surged forward and after some impressive sustained pressure we got an attacking scrum in a dangerous position and went for the push over. Rhodes didn’t wait, he saw the opportunity and picked up, handed off their 6 and scored. Top stuff!
We kicked off again, applying pressure and went wide where Keogh got on the end of some impressive back stuff and went under the posts.
Within a minute we were attacking again and once again Rhodes picked up from the scrum and went over from 15m out this time. Then he announced he was tired and could he have a rest? A rest? You’ve only been on 20 minutes, scored two tries and now you’re going off? LEGEND! He didn’t mess about did he!
The last quarter was a free for all with both teams scoring but the game was done by then. The pick of the late scores was a three on three. Lyon, Hinchliff and NANDO against three defenders. I ran a hard line and Lyonsy tried to pass to me but the ball slipped out of his hands funny as all three defenders charged at me. Lyonsy accidentally threw a long miss pass that went out to a now completely unmarked NANDO to score on his debut! Strong like Spanish bull! In the last period the ref made some very strange calls including pinging me for offside at a kick off? I would like to factually state that I have never ever been offside from a kick off in my life but at least we were amusing the Gods. Giblin also had a 10 minute rest in the sin bin, for high tackling whilst offside in a quick tap which conceded a penalty try.
Final score…A-Team 72-25 Yarnbury, and honour restored.
Try Scorers: James Giblin; Howard Hanks x2; Toby McKinell x2; Archie Stancliffe x2.
Written by George Hinchliff.