After the usual antics of the journey to some far-flung destination and certain individuals turning up with less than 10 minutes to go (isn’t that right, Christian?), Saturday was one of those weekends when both the 1XV and Spartans were starved of numbers so some positional changes were required. We even managed to rope in a complete novice to make sure we had 15 and a big thank you to Fitzy for getting his mate Ali down to play. Talk about baptism of fire against the league leaders Belsize Park, but that wasn't the biggest surprise of the match. David 'Jacko' Jackson was press ganged into joining the pack, right into the engine room itself in the 2nd row … but more on that later…
Spartans were sensible enough to know that a win was unlikely but the team spoke of playing with an intensity and commitment that would let BP know they were in a game and that's exactly what happened. We were already feeling the odds were stacked against us given the lack of preparation and the numbers issue, but seeing the referee from the Grasshoppers game firmly tipped the scales into outright sh1tty … It was always going to be an uphill struggle but you play the conditions and to a man, and the Spartans played their hearts out.
This match report won't recount how the trys were scored, Belsize's own report and supporting DVD can do that, instead I'd like to focus on a couple of standout performers for the remainder of this report. Starting with our seemingly unbreakable Vice Captain Peter Kim who once again got absolutely battered in the front row! Already sporting a broken finger from our last match, his body was contorted into such positions that we were half tempted to drop him off at the circus on the way home. Then we have super-charged, super angry Crazy Christian who flung himself around the pitch with his usual mixture of ability and central American aggression. We always forgive his late arrivals because the man is an absolute menace around the park and, AND he didn't get injured. Huzzah!
Jacko was a revelation in the 2nd row although I don't think he'll want to play that position again in a hurry. But in a game littered with scrums he pushed and heaved with the best of them and he put in some big tackles in the middle of the park. He rightly collected the MOTM award for his industry and his willingness to get on with the job. The back row did an outstanding job in the face of relentless Belsize Park attacks with Richard 'Bruce' Banner squaring up to anyone who dared come his way.
We were grateful to have Slash with us for this game and he and JJ rolled back the years when Spartans did on the odd occasion manage to get the ball back! JJ in particular would show the same fortitude as young George Ford did later that evening, in shrugging off some big hits from the Belsize Park back row. His new beard pumping continuous amounts of testosterone round his body ensuring he got up from each hit bigger and meaner than before!
Dan had a solid game at 12, playing with a new 10 and a new 13 for the sixth time in as many games! He showed a willingness to run at the Belsize Park defence, shrugging off and stepping round tackles with aplomb. We all breathed a sigh of relief when Jake didn't suffer further injury although his nose did start leaking again after about five minutes. The highlight of the match was when he ducked under the Belsize Park centre's attempts at a tackle, it was cartoonish in its simplicity. We were all disappointed he didn't subsequently crawl through someone's legs or emerge from a ruck ball in hand as the opposition wrestled and tackled each other. Maybe next time!
Fitzy's mate Ali had a storming game on the wing, putting in several important tackles in what turned out to be his first game of rugby. Colm showed an excellent turn of pace and a willingness to get in the way of any bigger boys that headed his way. And last but by no means least, was attacking stalwart James Jeffs who flung himself around the pitch like a 20 year old. Always ready with a positive word for the team, Jeffs has been a consistently strong performer this season and we shall continue to discourage his noises on retirement for another while yet!
So there you have it. Not a traditional match report but instead a love letter to the 15 guys who turned up, did their collective best and supported each other during a tough encounter. The season can only get better but one thing we all agreed after the game… no matter the opposition, no matter the score we shall play this exquisitely brutal game for each other with a smile on our faces and a spring in our steps.
Oh, and for those who insist on things like knowing the score it finished up Spartans 0 - Belsize Park IIIs 58
1. Jay 2. PK 3. Christian 4. Newe 5. Jacko 6. Tom Giles 7. Banner 8. Fitzy 9. Slash 10. JJ 11. Ali 12. Dan 13. Jake 14. Colm 15. Jeffs
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