Kenilworth Pirates 27 Hinckley Vets 24
On a sunny February afternoon, a strong Kenilworth Pirates side took to the hallowed turf against an enthusiastic Hinckley vets. Kenilworth was strengthened in the week when Paddy confirmed he was unavailable. A large crowd (thanks to Ian Phillips wife and 3 children) witnessed an array of talent from yesteryear. The only downside to this spectacle was it was played in super slow motion, writes Gary Stephens.
Mr Turner made a splendid effort to make the team feel special by putting the shirts out in numerical order in the 1st XV changing room. This only had the effect of confusing the pirates forwards who seek out their shirts starting at XXXL .
Normally meeting in the changing rooms an hour before kick off is to warm up. There was much huffing and puffing; however this was reaching down to tie boot laces and the application of neoprene and the putting on of rather tight shirts.
With the starting XV announced at 1:30p.m. Mr Povey announced he was off to the barbers and was rewarded upon his return at 14:20 by being "offered" to the opposition (who were two short) for the whole game. However the other volunteer to play for Hinckley was Tom Watts; one of last year's 1st XV back row.
Captain Fountaine won the toss and with all the military prowess of a goat aimed his army into the sun, reducing visibility by 50%. The match was started by the lovely Lisa who advised she was applying Warwickshire rules at the scrum; explaining she would like it put in, straight down the middle.
Kenilworth was soon in trouble as Hinckley's Number 8 revealed a tactic of running at Glyn Owen, a registered non tackler. Resplendent in white gloves Mr Owen took point duty very seriously and waved through the aggressive looking Number 8 for the opening try.
Kenilworth hit back with a range of inter passing which eventually saw Stephens unusually find his target, with Dominic Carrick crashing over.
The game ebbed and flowed with Jimmy Middleton demonstrating some excellent running lines, ably supported by Wayne Morgan and Jai Purewal. As usual front row forwards Simon Blaydon, Graham Ballinger and Mick O'Brien walked around hand in hand, keeping warm at every opportunity by cuddling each other at one of those scrummy things. Working hard was Rich Allen, who was all over the pitch tackling his heart out and Ian Phillips who was immense at the ruck.
After some excellent play Mark Bennett (not to be confused with the current gifted Scottish centre) went over in the corner for one of his brace of tries. At this point Kenilworth looked in control. However, the captain's choice of ends came back to haunt Mr Carrick, who called for the ball at the kick-off, only to grasp thin air and knock-on.
Eventually, Hinckley won ball at a line out and discovered the Kenilworth backs were checking whether Wayne was a little sleepy after a bump on the head. This allowed Hinckley to score under the posts.
Kenilworth hit back with another try, set up by Mark Powell (still hasn't scored since 2004) winning excellent ball at the line-out scored by Jez Noon, and yet again Dominic Carrick completely missed the resultant kick-off, claiming sun blindness. A further try from Captain Fountaine Kenilworth meant the Pirates went into half-time with a healthy lead.
In the second half, with the sun having gone in, Kenilworth brought on further seasoned vets including Andy Honess and Richard "Man of the Match" Moon. Other changes saw the grinning assassin Richard Bennett at blindside flanker. There was an exchange of prisoners with Tom Watts coming back to Kenilworth with Ian Phillips being handed to Hinckley. No efforts were made to negotiate a return of Mr Povey and handily, he remained with Hinckley.
With 20 minutes to go Kenilworth suffered a major injury; Dominic Carrick tried manly to play on with a broken nail but succumbed when it became clear the cuticle was also damaged. On came the real deal; enforcer Bruce Doe. At 62 Mr Doe has experience of a very different game when rucking was legal and posting your injuries on Facebook would have been considered wimpy (please note Messrs' Carrick and Allen).
In the final quarter the parrot award was settled when Will O'Meara, on at scrum half, was stood in his dead ball area seeking out a skilled fly half type player to pass the ball to, thus relieving pressure. Unfortunately not once, but twice he only managed to find Mooney, a front row forward weighted down by neoprene who managed to crash to the floor within the dead ball area. Hinckley duly scored from the resulting scrum.
Kenilworth managed to score a further try when Bennett was put away in the corner after excellent work from all forwards and backs. Hinckley came right back and managed to score a try after relentless rucking. At the kick off back Hinckley came, seeking to get the score which would see them win. Under immense pressure in his own 22 Mark Bennett kicked the ball high into the fading light to Povey in the Hinckley backs who managed to juggle and knock-on thus relieving pressure; the trojan horse tactic had worked!
In the final minutes Kenilworth applied pressure and held out until Stephens kicked to touch (like the professionals do) ignoring a planned backs move to send the crowd into raptures of applause (ok, into the bar!).