With the cancellation of last week’s game by Harlequin Amateurs, Thamesians arrived for our biggest game of the year against league leaders Hillingdon Abbots a little rusty to say the least, after the four week break from games. The warm up took a very uneasy and unusual direction with plenty of non-game chat, and plenty of dropped balls, not necessarily the best omen. This continued into the game and it was obvious Hillingdon, as an extremely strong and well drilled side, were going to capitalise on any weakness we showed them.
The back row did all they could to stop the onslaught of the Hillingdon attack, but without us working together as our usual single unit, gaps were left, and Hillingdon punished us harshly, running in five tries in the first half to take an half time lead of 31-0.
After the halftime dressing down that we all deserved, Thamesians returned to the field with captain Rorys words ringing in their ears "Chins Out and Chests Up" (well he is Irish). However we seemed to take up from where we left off and Hillingdons attack continued. It was only a matter of time and after a few phases of rucks they put in an a kick heading over the head of Joe. What happened next can only be attributed to Joes viewing of Escape To Victory over the Christmas break and his inner Pele deciding to make an appearance, and instead of turning and catching the ball, taking an easy Mark in our 22, he decided to make an audacious attempted to clear his lines with an overhead bicycle kick (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erQdTUdeABI ). Not only failing miserably, landing himself with DoD, but a couple of passages later allowing Hillingdon to run in their sixth try. We took control of the ball on the following restart only to be cut short with Knobby being taken out by a high tackle, while taking a large blow to the head.
Over the following passages of play it became clear Knobby was unaware of his surroundings, and after failing some questions you could expect him to fail (what is 2x2? What month comes after January? Describe anything from the first half of the game) Knobby left the field giving Jacko his first taste of 1XV rugby for Thamesians.
The rest of the team took Knobbys lead and put the first half of the game out of their mind.
The forwards upped their game and started to take the game to Hillingdon with multiple phases starting to string themselves together. Tramp started taking ball into contact and making the sort of hit in attack you'd expect to see (and we did on multiple occasions) from Franco in defence. It was as if the game had started again and what a game it was turning in to.
Thamesians camped ourselves in Hillingdon's 22, again linking multiple phases with Lynch adding plenty of carry yards to his stats and the rest of the team putting everything into support play, but we were just unable to break through the strong defence. Although it started to rattle Hillingdon and the penalties started to come thick and fast. However with the loss of Coogan the usual safe Thamesians lineout started to falter and possession was continually handed back to Hillingdon. But the penalties continued and after what seemed like a dozen, Hillingdon were handed a yellow card and we saw our opportunity. A maul was setup and the forwards could smell the truffles buried 10 meters away, so the rumble began and the maul began to roll left and right, until they crossed the line and captain Rory at the helm touched down for a true Piggies try.
The second half continued as a great game of rugby and a definite display that the game of rugby is a game of two halves. Whereas in the past when Thamesians have gone behind we have let it get to us a lot can be taken from depths we dug to, to salvage our pride and keep our "Chins Out and Chests Up".
With one game left of the first phase of this years league we can take a lot from our second half display and hopefully turn in a complete performance in a fortnight to allow us to get through into the top half of the league, allowing us the opportunity to get another go at Hillingdon and hopefully turn the result around.
* Kieran Morgan
* Joe Morgan
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