It was a crisp November evening with outside Temp in car showing -2 Degrees . The anticipation had been building all week with guys buying new kit, scrumcaps , zinc tape and gumshields in Dublin Airport. Friday evening 7pm the time had come. Hop out of car at The Hazelwood Centre and make my way towards the changing room. As I got nearer I could hear the faint sounds of AC/DC and whaft of deep heat get stronger and louder, stronger and louder. Pull the doors open to find an uncharacteristically professional looking set up. Shirts on pegs , 4 trays of sandwiches , cooler box with enough Fosters to drown a Kangeroo. I look around the room to see MT, James Roberts , Billy , Slash , Matty Yates, Jonno Chandler.. I had begun to wonder if I had actually gone 88mph on the motorway to give the Flux Capacitor enough juice to actually go back to the future. Great Scotts!!!!
A fair few new faces to the cowboy ranks including a number of debutants from Ireland , once introductions were made it was time to head out to the pitch , well kick off was in 20 mins.
A good high tempo warm up finished with some full contact phase work , by this stage the rust had well and truly been blown away. The message from Mission Commander O’Reilly was clear 1. Have fun 2. Respect the ref , oppo and your teammates 3. Give it 100% and knock them back at every opportunity.
Space Cowboys kicked off and it was clear from the get go that this wasn’t going to be an easy Friday night run around. French carried well and broke the gain line at nearly every phase. 10 minutes of pressure resulted in the cowboys regrouping under our own sticks for a well need breather . 0 -5 to Les Blues. A few choice words from our skipper and we headed back out into the light.
Franco started to turn the screw and do what he does best, crunch guys for fun. Yates showing the crowd that he still has it, JPR Williams style jinking and running and fearless tackling. Steve Hickey making his debut at no8 started to get into the game and made a number of good carries , knocking back the French. The Hot Tub time machine crew from 9 to 15 started to get into the game and some slick hands began to get going. JR doesn’t quite possess the same power he used to now that he has discovered Bikram Yoga and Quinoa. The hard lines are still the same and defensively nothing came through the middle. Steve Casey making his debut got the crowd excited when he took a pass from James England and opening up the throttle and absolutely skinned his opposite winger only to be “forced” into touch on the 22. Yes you read that right… A pass from James England!
Cowboys got back on level terms through Coogan who made his first start at 6 , who dotted down after a sustained period of pressure. Billy added the extras. Only one more incident to note and that was Billy deciding that a 10 minute break at half time wasn’t enough for him so as the advancing French Winger slid to recover a loose ball Billy tried to recreate a move once seen by Brett “ The Hitman Hart” in Wrestlemania XV , after Billys “Heartbreaker” sliding elbow/knee tackle as minor scuffle ensued with the referee finally getting all 30 players to break and retreat.
Fuse lit for 2nd half..
HT – Cowboys 7 - London French 5
The second half continued to be a real dog fight. Debutant Hickey at 8 thought he had increased our lead when he bounced the covering fullback arse over tit to dot down. Ref pulled it back for some reason, still not sure why.
The game still on a knife edge when Billy returned to the fray and the centre partnership of JR & MT making way for another dynamic duo of Kieran Morgan and Ben Coleman. Franco made a great break from his own 22 and thought he was instructed to throw an out the back door no lookey no likey pass. Hickey finally got his try when the Cowboys pack stood firm on our own scrum for once give the mobile 8 a platform to rumble over from the back, a cheap shot from French in the form of 2 knees to the back meant Hickey had to retire with 2 broken ribs and a try. A fair trade!
Then the Cowboys started to use our full bench to full affect and tired legs from the French meant space was starting to appear. Cue the moment of the game when ben Coleman broke from inside his own 22, offloads to Yates who turns back the clock to skin a couple of defenders and then passes to England, England cuts back inside to Edmonds now just outside French Red Zone. Loads up the big wide pass only to cut back inside to Skipper O’Reilly who runs a great hard line leaving 2 French defenders flat footed and a little embarrassed to get stood up by a prop.
Cowboys had their tails between their legs and some great passages of play and staunch defending meant Ts were starting to pull away , or so they thought. Adi and Ian McKee continued to hit every ruck and carry well, Coogs and Franco chopping ankles for fun and the back starting to find a bit of space. New boy Steve Casey getting in on the try action in his first game in 11 years.
General Slater issuing a rallying call that the game wasn’t done yet and that they could easily come back. Which they nearly did, 2 converted tries later and the game was down to a 7 point spread. The fresher but less experienced legs began to creak and James Hill went for his second early bath in succession. Coming in at the side. Fair call. 6 mins on the clock and penalty to French . Kick for the corner. Stolen by Fleming at 4. Cowboys turnover. Cleared to touch by Chandler.
Lineout on 10 metre to French . They won this one , advance to our 22. Penalty for high tackle. French try to tap and go early. Loud shout from Rory informs the ref he has taken a knock and needs attention. Play stopped much to annoyance of the French, Rory takes his time being replaced. Kick to corner. Lineout goes over the top and is mopped up by Foz and again lines are cleared , this time a bit longer and we are into French Half. Another stolen line out by Cowboys. We charge towards French 22, turnover by French then knock on by French.
30 seconds to go, Scrum Cowboys . Slash informs pack and Kieran now in the 10 slot of the time. Solid Cowboys scrum, Slash whips it out to Morgan who to the gasps of the 50 strong home crowd as his kicks Crossfield into the dark part of the dead ball area….
Jonno collects and takes his time placing the ball down 7s style. Mission Complete
Final Score : 31 -17
Try Scorers: Coogan, Rory, Steve Hickey, Steve Casey, Jonno Chandler
MOTM – Steve Hickey
DOTD – Bill Edmonds
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