Bright sunshine, 30 degree heat, an expanse of dry grass and hard ground; an ideal arena for the fast flowing, frenetic style of rugby to be expected, but of the U23’s, not us!
By Friday the response from our emails had been pretty poor, with our numbers amounting to around 8. Fortunately for us the 2’s had had similar difficulties and three of their number volunteered to turn out for us, giving us 11. The remainder, I was sure, would be found hanging around on Saturday morning. They were found, but they weren’t hanging around, they were running around with the U23’s and agreed to play two games. The late and unexpected arrival of Will O’Meara was also a site for sore eyes.
Shortly after the starting whistle it became obvious that we were in for a hard afternoon, as Leamington quickly ran in the first of many tries. As usual, we were about equal in the forwards and even dominated at times, pushing them off the ball in the scrums and making useful ground mauling. On several occasions we fought our way into their 22, only to be turned over. Our tackling was generally poor up front and they then generally broke through and threw it out wide to run around us. This however does not reflect the efforts of our backline. They fought hard, particularly the two U23’s, Chris Riley (playing out of position) and Will O’Meara who put in many hard tackles.
There were, however, many plus points. We fought hard and did not give up. When we ran at them we found that they too were lacking in the tackling department and their young backline were also fallible and under pressure folded, leading to our tries, to the sound of much bickering and displeasure from Leamington.
With about 20minutes to go, the Ref. offered to cut it short, in view of the score line and the heat. I said OK, but Leamington wanted a full measure of revenge for last season, and maximum points from a league fixture. I don’t blame them, and I probably would have done the same, tables turned. We then had probably the best 10mins of our game, with one foray into their 22 resulting in a push-over scrumage, as their pack disintegrated, pity we didn’t have the ball and a second resulting in a try from a lineout.
Considering that, I understand, Leamington had been working hard towards this game for months, wanting to redress the balance of last year, I feel they failed. They were certainly better than us on the day and we were well beaten, but with the final score settling at 67 to 27 in favour of Leamington, we did get 27 points passed them. Considering the scratch side we had out, it bodes well for the re-match later in the season when hopefully we will have our full squad out (or should I be considering a career change to politics?).
Next week we are at home to Pinley, KO 3.00pm. (hopefully the climate will be a bit more seasonal).