Due to the inclement weather conditions Spartans found themselves off to Grasshoppers for the second time this season, hoping to take their Kilburn form into this game. While the pitch initially looked in good nick it was clear there were patches that could be best described as boggy but regardless things would kick off as usual.
With the addition of Callum in the centres and Ben Lee stepping into 13 it was to be another centre combination for the Spartans! The forwards had a more familiar look but with the benefit of Inchy dusting off the boots for the second time this season.
The game kicked off with Grasshoppers rather youthful side looking to throw the ball around. Spartans were more than willing to match them and the early exchanges were all about half breaks and last ditch tackles! Ben showed a keen eye for a gap and twice accelerated through the Grasshoppers centres but both times Spartans were unable to exploit these opportunities.
Spartans’ early pressure failed to yield any points and unfortunately despite dominance at the scrum it was Grasshoppers who got on the board first. A crashing run by their number 12 and some quick recycling saw them score a try.
Worse was to follow as the half wore on. Grasshoppers scrum half switched the play at a ruck close to the 15 metre line and attacked the blind side. Despite the narrowest of gaps the 9 played a little grubber kick in behind and the Grasshoppers winger was quickest to the ball, touching it down just before it ran dead.
Spartans regrouped and sought to wrestle their way back into the game. The scrum proved a potent weapon but for all our dominance we only came away with a penalty. A key issue being the lack of carries by the forwards, with so much ball going directly to the backs. That said, one moment of levity was provided by Jake who picking the ball up at 15 scooted across the field and across the Grasshoppers defence.
Now while most players would’ve concentrated on making the most of the space, Jake had time to point at his opposite number and then laugh in his face as he danced away from his tackle… Maybe it wasn’t in the spirit of the game but it was pretty bloody funny!
In response the next two scores went to Grasshoppers as they rounded out the first half with another unconverted try and a penalty. Perhaps that’s what happens when you laugh at the opposition! As the whistle went it was 18 – 3 in Grasshoppers favour.
Common sense prevailed in terms of the pitch condition and the teams switched to a new one for the start of the second half. Unfortunately a new pitch didn’t lead to a reversal in fortunes for Spartans and despite further mileage at the scrums and a driven lineout we failed to register a score during the next 40 minutes. However, we did restrict Grasshoppers to just one more score in the second half, with a try coming from a winger who must be a bloody sprint champion or something such was the gas he showed in skinning poor George on the wing.
The only other incident of note was a late hit on our own 9, Tom Raper, leading to the sin binning of the Grasshoppers player. The match petered out finishing up 23 – 3 to Grasshoppers, denting Spartans hope of cementing their spot in the playoff for the third year in a row.
The boys will regroup and go again against Haringey at the end of the month. Man of the Match went to Callum for an all action display at 12 and then later at 9 and this despite taking a hefty blow to the head in the first half. No dick of the day award was given this week but special mention should go to Paul Barrett who fielded a high ball in the best tradition of wingers everywhere… by batting it forward like an athletic volleyball player. Unsurprisingly the referee spotted that one!
Team: Christian, Banner, Jay, Kevin, Soups, Gav, Michal, Inchy, Tom, JJ, George, Callum, Ben, Paul, Jake
Subs: Bart, PK, Ceri, Colm
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