A better game than the scoreline suggests
Tough evening but some great play
The week before, Capt Trez was feeling quietly confident, despite Dings being a mere 3 leagues higher and an amateur/semi pro gulf away the OBs teamsheet was sparkling with talent and a healthy bench. Admittedly not a prop in sight, but a) this is not unusual for any OBs team b) there was a general sense of confidence that Dings would be likely to have a spare front row or two.
Arriving at Dings' great new facility stirred mixed emotions.
Firstly the old ground was stuff of legends, and as frankly brilliant as the new facility is, it didn't quite have the same personality. Secondly arriving at the magnificent new ground started to impress on the team that this was a Quite Serious Club. Especially as the eagle-eyed in the squad might have noticed the teamsheet diminish over the week.
Nevertheless, the mood was buoyant, especially when new shirts were distributed and the quickening assembled.
At this point, even the non-eagle eyed noted that the bench, and indeed the team itself was a little less that it had been, but such is the spirit of the team no-one looked overly concerned, especially when the oppo did kindly agree to lend us props to make the scrums contested (and happily result in us having a bench of 3). This reduced their squad to approximately 22.
As befitting of OBs match reports, we'll gloss over the game - out of tradition rather than any shame. However some moments of note:
- Strong centre running from Dan and Gareth, and also holding players up to win mauls at least twice
- Brilliant socks-down 'I don't care how many times he side-steps' last man tackling from Hoops
- Hilarious sideways running from Diamond, although also some great defence when at centre
- 2 chase and win-backs from Peaches from the restarts. As well as tackling all day
- Incredible chase back and try-saving (ok, try-postponing) tackle from Si Debley
- Standard no-look passing and gliding nonchalantly in the face of extreme peril from Ed
- Beautiful darting run (and almost try) from Gavin just when we were looking like coming back
- Tom literally ducking under their enormous 8 with a show-and-go
- Comedy chip and chase from Tinks near the death
At half-time it was 32-12, and after two early tries from Dings it had very much evened up - and the 20 or so minutes after half time OBs was mainly on-top (bar an intercept try). The last third saw too many OBs walking wounded (or dramatically splayed exhausted), and down to effectively 13 in the last 5.
A mark of the heart and spirit of the side was that when the ref's question as to whether we wanted to finish up early was asked to the team, the response was unanimous incredulity. The scoreline was a bit ugly, but there was some beautiful, heroic rugby still to be played.
Some of the dice, bounces and what the teenage ref didn't see didn't fall in our favour, but there was little complaining, and in general a sense that playing with a quality, if depleted, team against significant odds was actually at least in part what rugby is about.
That said, we will bloody do our best to make sure there's a decent bench next time, if only to share the fun. Thanks to Dings for their hospitality and good spirit throughout - clean game and some fine moments of running rugby from both sides.