Unbeknown to the team a faffalanche of disorganisation preceded this game, with the 2s/3s deciding that they probably wanted a game, but as Thursday morning came around without a team, oppo or ref (or arranged food) approx 100 WhatsApp messages ensued - all ending in the happy outcome of 30ish players turning out against Nailsea (whose 2s had just been let down.) All good, other than us losing Hein to the cause.
We did have a sneaky backup plan, well in the Captain's head anyway, inspired by Brits playing 8 against Namibia, BJ found his name at 8 on the teamsheet. Giddings swiftly vetoed that however, the opportunity of rampaging runs from the back of the scrum clearly exciting him.
To be fair, BJ seemed far happier after a swift, decisive conversation in the changing room put him back in the front row, possibly because he was blissfully unaware of quite how many scrums he was about to endure. We'd also been promised to have Hein back in the second half, because we know how well arranging to swap players back has worked in the past... (it never has).
Anyhow, after a gentil chat with the ref (74) about at which point in life one must realise one is too old for things (I hope he wasn't implying anything bringing that up) we did a bit of light yoga, while the oppo ambled past offering amiable abuse at ex-raven Burrows. We turned to yoga mainly to put an end to quite a terrible pre-game 7v4 session of touch, which clearly was the start of Stanni's concerns about the company he was in (can't count, can't catch...)
Aforementioned Stanni was also looking a mixture of suspicious, alarmed and resigned as the rest of the front row that had been promised, failed to turn up (Sam and BJ had mentioned that they would be late, but Whitemangate meant Stanni's faith was a little on the low side).
But turn up they did, looking keen in that slightly hurried fashion people do when they turn up 10 minutes before kickoff. Except for Hawkins, who has never looked hurried in his life.
As this is a match report, we will skip over the details of the actual game. Immediately prior to the game however we were delighted to find ourselves with a DOTD nominee as Barney managed to get much of the way to the pitch for kickoff, without a shirt. Possibly the sort of thing that would have been picked up earlier if we did the traditional pre-game team hug in the changing room, rather than meandering out chatting about the weather and politics. But for me, I think the latter is more Vets in spirit.
So to the game, Barney earned himself both DOTD (see above) and BOP with a hatrick, and some brilliant cover tackles and holding players up. On his 3rd try, one of their young (and quite good) lads chased him down over 40m only to have Barney hand him off over his shoulder brutally. It was both amusing, and slightly painful to watch.
Tristan played like a man on a mission, which we would later discover to be asking his WAG to go permanent. Congrats that man, for bagging a brace and a lovely young lass. Good weekend's work. She hopefully didn't mind that his Pugness was even more puggy than normal after he face-planted in the (still quite firm) mud.
The sheer number of scrums - and Stanni's cheerful conversion to tighthead was a feature. We blamed the humidity and new balls.
Ted pulled off a beautiful pirouette (ending in a try), and a few cheeky chip-n-chases which continually bamboozled the oppo.
Burrows making an excellent conversion to flanker, and frankly bullying their 9, and scoring an excellent try.
BJ being told off for rudeness - mainly notable because PC PG normally hogs the limelight in this respect.
The scoreline was a little odd, in that in some ways it had felt like we'd clocked up more than 36, but at the same time it didn't really do the oppo justice, in that it wasn't one-sided and was an enjoyable contest against a decent side - but on our line we let nothing through and on their line breaks Nick and Barney bear cut them down, so it was excellent defence rather than that we were playing a weak side.
A final highlight - at half time Stanni cheerfully noted "I just want to say, I'm really amazed, this team's actually really bloody good. I was a bit concerned before, I thought I was the only serious athlete here, but this has been brilliant fun".
And he was quite right.