So, with 22 players confirmed on Thursday an (early) afternoon of cheering from the sideline looked assured for me, having been explicitly told by Mrs Trez (not unreasonably given my record of self-harm) that as she was away, I was to be looking after our children, and 'playing rugby' was did not count as looking after them. 7 dropouts later, children installed in a (hopefully) storm-proof tent with a freshly charged iPad, the Legends started to assemble.
Normal faff ensued - Ettery being a hero by not only agreeing to hook, but even after seeing the size of their pack, do so contested.
Our second row were playing a who-can-be-most late game: TT (welcome return!) texting at 1145 (12:00 kickoff) to say he'd be late. He was outdone by Kirk who turned up at about 1pm but then both played magnificently, so that's OK then.
The Failand Snipper (Race night joke, you should have been there!) struck - showing itself as ever amusing by taking a second Charlie this year in the warm up. Matrix missed out on Club Day, and Charlie Apps would miss out on Magor. But stayed to take photos so again, silver linings and G(new)CM and all that.
Warm up was livened up by the Ref (over 500 matches you know!) making it very clear exactly how seriously he would be taking the game. He proved his point later on by scoring a try for the oppo. He strenuously denied any 'even-ing up' had taken place, although it's hard to see how by actually scoring for one side, a sensible person could claim this. Actually, I think I've answered my own question.
There was some grumbling about being on the 3rd team pitch, but this was only from those unaware of the masterplan of using the Audley windtunnel as our secret weapon.
We set the tone high by actually doing some plyometric stretches, but then quickly rediscovered our level - by the time I returned with flags the Sniper had struck and we'd returned to milling about commenting about how dangerous it was to be fit and fast at our age. We ran through a lineout just in case given the gale and our tactics it might come in useful. I nodded and smiled as Sam talked about numbers and sausages to me in a vain attempt to give himself a second throwing option.
And off we went. Highlights:
Immediate tries from Gareth through a hole (Ted and him combining with their usual, and yet still always surprisingly, silky and elusive ways ), then El Capitain Dan out wide and back in, then another for Gareth (I think from an outrageous dummy).
Ringer Chris scoring with perhaps his first touch, looking a little handy out wide
Zonks at 8, absolutely rock solid and putting in a huge number of hits. I still am convinced I've seen him at 8 before. Perhaps in a dream.
2 perhaps 3 scrums won against the head. Roar. What Sam, Nick and Paul give away in size they made up for in energy - brilliant to see Ettery back and joyfully putting in hits all over the park.
Their first try coming from approx. 20 phases of pick and drive, which we made 30-40 tackles to keep them out, despite being 30 points up. Huge pride and hunger. ROAR.
Alex M continuing to be revelling in his come-back - winning several lineouts against the throw and him and Al H tacking everything that trundled their way. Hein almost manufactured another run-through-their-whole-pack try except one pesky defender had tangled himself in his shirt as he was batted aside.
The ref (slightly cruelly) allowing one of their players to run the length in probably their best break, making it past TT and Dan E - and then calling him back for an infraction far more minor than the 20 he'd previously let go. NB: Dan tried to tap-tackle him with his eyelid, which looked painful. TT looked equally pained as he'd quite clearly shouted 'touch' as he ran past. Unsporting.
Stinger, despite being probably the best man at stopping on a six-pence on the field, if not in the whole club, apparently over-running the deadball line. This might have been the ref cruelly denying him his hattrick however after some lovely pacey tries in the first half.
Decent attempt at a comeback by the oppo in the second half, having the wind and slope, a good try shortly after one of their chaps decided to counter my no-arms-head-first-chop tackling by putting his knee in my head's flight-path. I was less bothered about any concussion, more very very concerned about who would look after the children... Shep immediately and enthusiastically came to my aid, recommending Mrs. Shep as a very good divorce lawyer. Happily Kirk turned up at this point and that also put their comeback to bed, as he gambolled around the pitch looking like a man determined to squeeze a 80 minute MOTM performance in 20 minutes.
Giddings kicking a ruck clearance kick straight into Zonks's head. Zonks was epic at No.8, but no-one had told him about not standing up when box was called. They might have thought it was somewhat self evident.
TT chuckling as he caught yet another kick-off, devilishly unperturbed by their cries of 'Smash him!'
Dan E being chased around by one of their big lads for putting him on his ass early on. Needless to say, he didn't catch him.
Shep responding manfully to the pre-match media taunts by putting in a huge shift - doubters please see the photo evidence. And their centres actually weren't bad, but our backs were class all day.
Sesh - having looked very concerned in the build up, and after seeing what was a pretty physical contest, made it clear 10 minutes was plenty, had a great final quarter.
Play stopping for a serious injury as their prop rolled around in agony with disconcerting yelps emanating from his considerable form. Cramp can be ouchy I guess.
The ref scoring for them. I never thought I'd see something like that outside tour. At the end when I asked for the score the answer was: "good game, nice for them to come back for the draw though. Ref tries are 33 points."
Magor were great lads - the whole game was played in great spirit, and although the score looked very dominant, they kept grafting all 80 and made us work for it; so rather than it being a weak oppo, it was just a team that clicked brilliantly. Quote from one of them afterwards "Do you guys train together a fair bit then? You looked like you do." But we are building a pretty consistent squad and bolstered with great cameos and returns we should enjoy the rest of the season.
MOTM - Top contenders: Ettery, Kirk, Alex - but hats off to Zonks for his first 8 outing being majestic.
Final Score - 48-15
BoP - Grzonka
Bath Ladies II v Old Bristolians Ladies
OB Ladies headed down the M4 to play Bath Ladies II, a team that OBs last played and lost to at the beginning of the season. A much improved and more experienced OBs were raring to go, bolstered by some returning players, including Megan Carter fresh from maternity leave and a promising debut from Rose Osborne. The first half saw prolonged periods of OBs attack, only to be hampered by Bath’s strong defence at the breakdown. The deadlock was finally broken with OBs exploiting the space out left, allowing winger Caitlin Evans to score in the corner, much to her own surprise. Bath regrouped and came back strong against OBs static defence with a brace of tries, converting one of them. Half time score 12-5.
OBs shuffled some players round at half time, which allowed them to hit the ground running in the second half both defensively and going forward. There were strong ball carries from Tasha James, Lucy Stone and Holly Washington who managed to create space where there wasn’t any. The constant attack finally wore down the Bath defence, with a signature quick tap penalty from Megan Carter, releasing flanker Sophia Henry in beast mode to crash over under the posts. Lucy Stone added the all-important conversion to level the score. With very little time on the clock, the match finished with a 12-12 draw.
OBs performance was a vast improvement on the first time they met Bath and managing to hold the top of the league team to a draw was considered by many at OBs as good as a win. The ladies are working well as a unit and all the hard work at training is paying off allowing a strong finish to the season. Forwards of the match went to Sophia Henry for her newly found skills in attack and Tasha James for her strong ball carries and the most rounds of applause in one match. Back of the match went to centre Saoirse Harris for being an all-round demon in attack and defence. Honourable mention went to Ilijana Parojcic and Holly Washington who both had fantastic games.
Final Score - 12-12
BoP(s) - Henry, James & Harris