As the valiant and somewhat handsome Spartan side stepped out onto the hard sun-baked Isleworth pitch, two things became abundantly clear; knees would be scraped with every ruck and a win was ultimately necessary for a decent start to the season. After a shaky start the previous weekend against a skilled but not un-beatable Hampstead side, issues were addressed, and we came out with the fiery aggression of a recently re-generated Phoenix. The first half was reasonably well-matched with the opponents clearly relying on their pack rather than their backs that opted to kick almost every time their number 10 touched the ball. A bold but not entirely wise stratagem as the work-horse full back figure of James Jeffs was there to gracefully pluck the ball out of their air and counter-attack in good style.
A sterling return to the Thamesians paddock for Mr John Hightower meant that the opposition line-out was never safe as he never actually needed to leave the ground to tap the ball down to the ever-vigilant steel-toed form of Tom ‘Raper’ Roper. A good start and good pressure meant a lead of 6-3 after the half-time whistle blew as some solid defending proved to be keeping their tall-as-they-were-wide forwards of a veteran Isleworth side out.
The second half started after the inspirational advice from the skipper Kevin Newe and from Chocs succeeded in holding the Spartans intensity to a heightened level. The jinking runs of Christian and Callum gained valuable yards and brought us back into respectable enemy territory as the Isleworth men refused to stop kicking the ball with almost every carry. Some breaks from the enemy due to the lack of low-tackling meant the opposition drove the Spartans back to the brink before giving the ball back at the best possible time. A swift and sure counter attack with some solid and un-selfish passing found the Spartans on their opposite five metre line with a penalty in hand. The driving maul was set up and with the combined strength of these finely-tuned athletes, flanker Gavin Lock went over for the try and with the kick slotted we re-set and readied to receive yet another kick.
After the slight relief of the try, the slow and inevitable grinding down of the opposition’s once plucky exterior began as all but one of the penalty kicks soared over the uprights to extend our lead. Moving into the final five minutes, a mixture of a slight lapse in concentration and some previously unseen fancy handling and footwork resulted in a consolation try for Isleworth making the final score 20 – 8 to Spartans.
All-in-all some impressive rugby was played by both the forwards and the backs. Red and green balls were called in good time and executed with precision and poise. We are glad for the win but there is still a long way to go for this keen and our talented young team. Special mention and a jar has to go to the one and only Mr Bartholomew Redmond for being the first Thamesians player to ever be given the opportunity to win a cap for Old Isleworthian.
Tries: Gavin Lock
Penalties: Tom Roper
1. Special K, 2. Ceri, 3. Newey, 4. Soups, 5. Hightower, 6. Robling, 7. Lock, 6. Kristian, 9. Tom, 10. Dan, 11. JOB, 12. JR, 13. Callum, 14. Smithy, 15. Jeffs, 16. Jacko, 17. Jay, 18. Bart, 19. Colm.
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