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This whole week has been particularly tough for the 1's, loosing half the backline to injury. That alongside an accident on the A3 that looked set to derail our attempts before a whistle had even been blown. Luckily with minutes to spare we managed to get 15 on the field! With no less than 12 forwards and 3 backs on the pitch there was only one way to play….
The game plan was simple, in the words of Saracens defence coach Paul Gustard "hard, fast and together." We knew what Haileyburians were going to throw at us and it was a case of riding that wave and forcing them to make mistakes. We defended valiantly for the entire first half with a number of bone shuddering collisions in the midfield. A special mention must go to Dan Hills and Phil Robertson who stepped out of the flank to play as a very solid centre partnership, soaking up all the pressure and making some good gain line tackles. Neil Murphy, Gareth Nearn and Matt Armstrong also stood out in their wide defence, and after a half of little success playing champagne rugby, Haileryburians looked deflated at 5-0.
After a serious talking to from Mike Aitchison, the guys took to the field for the 2nd half looking even more focused. We put the pressure on early and dominated the scrums, the solid pairing of Matt Brennan and Jon Hursthouse resulting in two push over tries, and a simple touchdown of the ball for James Banister playing at scrum half. Callum Wogan holding his nerve and converting the first in very difficult conditions.
The remaining 20mins of the game had us defending for our lives. The referee who seemed to be caught up in the emotion of the game began to get whistle and card happy. Sending 3 Woking players to the bin (fortunately consecutively!) and penalising for strange things, like tackling too hard!! However, with 14 men we weren't going to roll over. Several try attempts were held up over the line, and a great effort by everyone to literally put their body on the line, in particular Steve Rhodes, Elliot Hood and Adam Smith who were outstanding and could have easily all been man of the match.
Luckily for us Wogan had put the fear of God into their number 10 nice and early in the game, running over him on several occasions. At the end of the game, when it mattered, he didn't want the ball, despite an overlap the entire time. This meant they could only use one out runners off the ruck. This is ultimately what cost them the game. Stellar defending around the fringes and some desperate work at the bottom of the rucks sealed the victory.
All in all, a very gritty performance of hard, physical rugby! Exactly what we asked for and a fantastic result for the club!
LINE-UP: Alisdaire Hamilton-Wilkes, Rory Blundell, Elliot Hood, Matthew Brennan, Jon Hursthouse, Adam Smith, Steve Rhodes, Jim McGiven, James Bannister, Callum Wogan, Gareth Nearn, Phil Robertson, Dan Hills, Matt Armstrong, Neil Murphy
SUBS: Justin Dougherty
MAN OF THE MATCH: Adam Smith