It was a cold, damp January morning in West London and, as the boys from Ts stood on Quaker Lane, staring through the iron fence and out at the seemingly lush pitch, there was a sense of confidence about the group. Even before the boys had put on their gear we got a glimpse of some of the nifty footwork which lay ahead as certain members of the squad danced on tippy toes en route to changing rooms in order to avoid splashing mud on their newly acquired footwear, some of which was more than questionable and could surely only have been purchased by wives and girlfriends, or the blind.
Despite the changing rooms being less than comfortable (think open plan prison showers), as the riff from Thunderstuck began to echo around the building, there was a definite feeling that Thamesians had come to do a job. Ignoring the obvious signs that the squad had clearly enjoyed more than the odd turkey sandwich and pint over Xmas, everyone was up for the task at hand and nobody was going to be taking Old I’s lightly.
The referee laid down his version of the law prior to kick off – Including a bizarre announcement that he would reverse any quick penalties which were not taken from the spot (TMO anyone?). We knew from the off that this referee was going to be a central player in the afternoon’s affairs, and so it would prove to be the case.
Old I’s started well, crashing the ball up hard through their pack, putting pressure on Ts. The Thamesians defence was solid, absorbing the early push from I’s. After a bit of early ping pong amongst the back 3’s from both side, the ball ended up in the hand of Micheal “Tramp” Griffiths who proceed to lumber his way into the corner for the first score of the game. Kieran “The Lesser” Morgan’s attempt at a conversion was somewhat feeble, albeit understandable on a heavy, windswept pitch.
Within minutes of the restart, Ts were on the offensive again, with one of the younger members of the squad, Seb Turner, a deceptively quick back rower, racing away for a try in the corner. The conversion attempt was closer than the previous, but still not quite where it needed to be. Ts leading by 10 points to Nil after 15 minutes.
The next ten or so minutes consisted of some decent play from both sides around the middle of the pitch, with possession being turned over on a number of occasions due to knock on’s from both, and two very dubious high tackle calls from the referee against Ts (since when have two handed tackles around the shoulder been ruled high?).
After some good phase play from the base of a scrum on the halfway, Ts get the ball wide to Richard “Brillo” Banner who puts in the type of swerve not seen since Girvan Dempsey’s heyday to leave the Old I’s winger flat on his arse and slide into the corner to make it 15-0 to Ts. And yes, you’d be right in thinking that the conversion went the way of its predecessors.
Some weak defending from Ts around the fringes allowed Old I’s to make steady progress up the pitch and eventually get under the posts for a try which was duly converted. 15-7 to Ts.
From the restart, Old I’s had the momentum and again put in some solid phases to work their up to the T’s 5 metre line. Epic counter rucking from the Ts pack saw the ball being turned over, however, a poor clearance gave I’s a line out on the Ts 22 which was stolen against the head and allowed Kieran to clear well into the Old I’s half.
Five minutes before the half time whistle, Tramp, doing what he does third best after tackle and crash ball, steal the ball from the base of a ruck and trots under the posts to make it 20 – 7 to Ts, “The Lesser” Morgan adds the two points much to the joy of the travelling supporters.
From the kick-off, another of the Ts Youth Wing, Dean Oliver, makes a cracking break from just outside the Ts 22 into the Old I’s red zone. Penalty given to Ts for I’s going off their feet and from the quick tap (taken in front of the ref, obviously) Buddha gets in to make it 27 – 7 to Ts.
Just on the half time whistle Gorgeous George Flatman is on the receiving end of a big hit which, after some R&R, he gets back on his feet and vows his revenge.
After some to’ing and fro’ing with the boot early in the second half, Rory “Riverdance” O’Reilly puts in a big hit to force the knock on and a scrum to Ts. The following 15 minutes involved a high number of scrums and the churning of the previously aforementioned lush pitch into something akin to the scene of a ploughing championship.
After some good work from Ts, a kick chase is put into the Old I’s half with Buddha being tripped and having to leave the pitch with a tweaked knee. Immediately after this, Ts stick to the game plan, and following the coach’s instructions, Callum “The Fixer” Saville scores Ts 6th try of the afternoon.
I’s came out the blocks firing from the kick off and the game starts to see that bit of niggle which one comes to expect when these two teams meet. In amongst the scrums and restarts, Seb is shown a yellow for blocking the runner, a call which the Ts supporters are not too happy about.
After a couple of light skirmishes, the referee’s patience is wearing thin and he threatens to show a red for the next infringement on either side.
Gorgeous George puts in that revenge hit on the far side of the pitch (legally…), leaving a heap of Old I’s blue face down in mud.
Repeated pick and go’s from Old I’s see them work their way from just outside the Ts 22 on to their line with the ball eventually being held up after some staunch defence from the Ts pack. It’s at this point the referee again becomes the focal point of everyone’s attention by speaking to both captains regarding discipline.
From the Ts 5 metre scrum, Kieran clears the ball well up towards halfway but is then on the receiving end of a hit from the Old I’s number 8 which was later than the 12:08 to Brighton. As all good teammates do, the remaining 14 Ts players pile into their Old I’s counterparts and a number of digs/slaps/pokes/strokes are thrown over the next minute or so. The referee stands back and allows things to run their course, and thankfully, no cards are shown. Despite the Old I’s captain wanting to throw in the towel, Captain O’Reilly insists that Ts want to see out the remaining five minutes of the game.
From a turnover ball, I’s then sneak a consolation try through their pack with three minutes on the clock.
Following the kick off, Ts put in a huge chase which culminates in some cracking hands from The Baker, Earwig and Trampy, culminating the ball going wide to our make shift winger, Deano, to step into the corner and round off a good afternoon for Thamesians.
All in all, a good days work with the bonus points in the bag and a solid start to 2016.
Man of the match went to Callum Saville for his top workrate, and Dick of the Day should, by rights, have gone to Deano for kicking away possession three times in attacking positions, but given his absence in the clubhouse, the DoTD award was given to Kieran for being on the end of a hit so late that it was entirely avoidable.
Next up, Chess Valley away.
1. Kieffer Ebanks, 2. Mike Jury, 3. Rory O’Reilly, 4. George Flatman, 5. Callum Savill, 6. Seb Turner, 7. James Irwin, 8. Dean Oliver, 9. Dan Jones, 10. Kieran Morgan, 11. Matt Peat, 12. Zac Tewake, 13. Michael Griffiths, 14. Sean Madigan, 15. Andre Cabera, 16. Greg Mackay, 17. Francisco DaCunha, 18. Colin Coogan
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