6 April 2013
Coper Cope Rugby 2nd XV 17 Dartford 4th XV 29
I should have written a report closer to the euphoric experience of getting a 2s team out on the same day as the 1s played and with not a single starter overlap – yes more than 30 players pulled on kit and played for our club’s current mainstream teams on this Saturday of April 2013 and that is the first time since [a long time ago which can be debated among certain members of long standing but it is without doubt more than 5 years since it happened]. I should have done so in order to attempt better to remember the match upon which I am now trying to report - who did score, when, what was the final score etc. Not being bothered by letting the truth get in the way of a good story, though, I shall plough on regardless of accuracy of what follows:
To achieve this dream of starting 15 players did involve a slightly forwards heavy starting line up with 8 forwards in the pack, a forward in both half back positions a forward and inside centre and among the 4 other players 2 often play as – well – let’s be honest – forwards.
In view of how many people were out of position – and that a number of us had not trained together much or at all this season - it is remarkable that we did not ship points like a leaky sieve in the first few minutes but we didn’t. We gave the match our all and we muddled through with only occasional breaches of our line.
A few gentle substitutions over time to let some people rest and to shore up some key positions (one substitution being of a player who had ALSO not started nor even played at all for the 1s so I am able to boast that MORE THAN 30 people played for the club that day) helped and we established a slightly better rhythm to the point that we actually did pull back in the second half to win more points then than our oppo but we were too far behind to catch up and do the miracle end of season.
Still, tries from Jonathan, Big Jack and Rudi Stassen got us our points (Rhudi converted one of the three tries).
Hard work and determination throughout the season (played 7 won 4 lost 3) earned us “a few beers”.
It has been a joy and a privilege to captain RBSRFC 2s in the season 2012-13: I hope for many a long year to read of 2s (dare we hope for 3s too in due course) at this club enjoying their rugby to a man as well as our first team going from strength to strength. I would like to thank Les Giblin not only for playing in most of our 2s matches but also for arranging the fixtures with a suitable balance of winnable, probably unwinnable but lesson learning and not a single "walk in the park better ensure a victory this week" type of game. It was good to have suitable opposition for our 7 matches so we had to raise our game to meet the challenged.
13 April 2013
Erith 1st XV 16 - 15 Copers Cope Rugby 1st XV
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 carreer, 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
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.
Copers Cope Rugby 25 Beccehamians 17
To call this a match of two halves is to underplay the remarkable nature of the fight back from 17-0 at half time. Most of those reading this report will have played or supported at Beccs' ground and will know the pitch with the Himalayan final 15 metres to the try line near the club house yet EVERY try was scored at that end!
We took to the pitch with a good 2s team as in balanced with a mix of returning students, flown in from working in Germany currently and mates we hope to integrate to the club as well as a posse
of regular 2s players and in the run through it felt pretty balanced. Despite choosing to play downhill first half to try to get ahead and defend it, we shipped a try due to a silly defensive error
ceding lots of ground off a kick and then poor last ditch tackling from their 5 metre scrum. Then we lost a prop to a yellow card incident and as so often happens went down one more try as we worked
hard to cope with only 14 of us against 15 of them - they stretched us wide and our cover just didn't stop the try which was frankly more poor tackling by me than anything else (and I'd made all that
effort to get over
there only to bounce off the winger rather than haul him down - DARN IT).
Discipline was proving an issue for both teams and we felt we were getting the raw end of the whistle, rather, but after the ref asked for both captains to have a word the next thing was a line
out at which there was much holding back and then a full round of fisticuffs and, guess what, another dose of ref asking both captains to calm things down or a card
(most probably red) was on its way. From that point, however, RBSRFC2s' play finally started to come together and we were unlucky not to score and still more unlucky to go down to a third try which came from a maul we felt had stopped numerous times, we know for sure touched the post protector (which should trigger a 5 metre attacking scrum) and
we know we had hands under when it was "scored". Still the club is awarded tries on occasion which we know were not deserved and when the ref says try it is a try AND the
adrenalin rush from that led to a phenomenal try saving effort by Albie when he
denied a winger the chance to get the ball down and did not merely hold him up
but carried him out into touch to get us a 22 drop out. (Albie did say a few times that his shoulder hurt and he hoped to go off for a rest but if he was going to stop tries in
that way, we needed him on the pitch!)
At half time, we told ourselves we were the best team, we asked ourselves if we wanted to win or lose, we did all the things one expects but I suspect a few talking or listening had a deep
suspicion that the match was beyond us. We made a couple of changes to get a flanker where he wanted to be (but, Perry, thanks for hooking first half) and a few minutes later to let one of our older
players catch his breath. From the restart kick, we seemed
more on the ball, we caught more cleanly, we rucked as the club knows it can,
we carried better - it started to click. Frostie grabbed us a well deserved try after much pressure and we had got some self respect. Ryan picked one up having to burst through a tackle or two and we were within a converted try of pulling even. Our defence was working
well too - and it had to work hard as they pressed our line on a few occasions giving us plenty of reason to worry about where the match was heading. We had a couple of sweet interchanges and runs and suddenly Si Moore was going to be in in the corner and we were calm and determined when given a 5 metre penalty when we knew the penalty try was
more logical in the circumstances. From that penalty, BigJack carried it up strongly to within 2 metres, was driven another one and Tom helped open the gap at the side of the ruck for Deano to dive majestically over for a try - we were a mere two points down with time for the match to go either way.
Plenty of defending later we were up against it, 5 metre scrum, Beccs ball attacking our try line, mid field so options both sides. Our pack chose this one to shift forward at the critical time,
Frostie hooked against the head cleanly, Wegs picked up from No8 and ran to a bit of space then put in a huge kick - pretty much to the half way line... but it missed touch by inches and bounced
infield; the groans from much of the pack at the need to chase it were soon converted to "back yourself" and "go for it" as our winger Aaron was first there kicked on, dribbled again, kicked once
more and flanked by two other RBSRFC2s in support and protection landed neatly on the ball for a score their end which found us 3 points up which several minutes on the clock to worry about snatching
defeat from the jaws of victory.
However, to round the game off, Phil Black got a well worked try after we used the width of the field against a tired home team and the missed conversion was irrelevant given final whistle went at that point and we looked at each other in disbelief. MATCH WON!
If you didn't score, you probably got close to doing so as the support throughout the second half on muddy, thick, energy-sapping ground was amazing. Our tackle rate
increased exponentially too. It was a match to be proud to say you played in but let's forget the nickname I was given in the bar by Beccs afterwards: Captain Punchy is not how I'd like to be remembered (and my head still hurts 3 days later, given the retaliation an
unknown opposition player dished me back in the heat of that battle)!