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Bulldogs 17 Hampstead 21

Even the prospect of an hour plus in the car could not dim our enthusiasm for this game, as we all knew that we had a brand spanking new kit awaiting us when we finally limped in off the North Circular.

 

For those not familiar with the Hampstead set up, they operate out of a nondescript building in the middle of the Hampstead Heath extension, which at first glance appeared to be ringed by some sort of Moat. Closer inspection by ill-advised suede shoe confirmed that it was, in fact, just one example of the sort of bog that we were just about to immerse ourselves in for 80 minutes.

 

Having been left to find the pitch by instinct alone, due to no help at all from the oppo, we walked past 2 perfectly good, unused pitches before starting the descent to the remedial area where they obviously park the lower leagues in this part of town.

 

The upper half of the pitch (partially hidden by cloud owing to the 45 degree angle that it was marked out on) was just about playable, but the lower half along the touchline was dreadful and basically a swamp. The referee told me that it was Captain’s call whether or not to allow play to commence on that surface, but after the aforementioned journey I thought it best to agree to go ahead anyway. (Plus I wasn’t planning on getting mud all over my nice new shirt by actually falling over in that muck).

 

We received from Kick off, and it was clear to see that Hampstead were up for it. They are a well drilled side, and both backs and forwards had clearly been working on various set piece and open play moves. Despite hard tackling from the Bulldog Flyers, it wasn’t long before the oppo scored their first try. Their number 8 did a full Jonny Wilkinson preparation for the conversion, including a drink of water and the longest foot placement many of us have seen, before lumbering to the ball and toe punting it right between the sticks. Our sardonic laughter slightly died off at that point.

 

About 10 minutes later, and again after some hard yards gained by their forwards, despite our best efforts Hampstead went over for a further score, which Jonny (eventually) also converted. 14-0, with 20 odd minutes gone – not good.

 

We got our act together though, and after several massive drives from the likes of man of the match Michael O’Connor, we got down to their side of the pitch and stayed there for several phases. Owing to the dreadful conditions and slippery ball, there had been enough knock ons beforehand for us to know that we had the better of them in the scrum. After one of several repeated infringements at the ruck, Hampstead were penalised again, and we went for the scrum about 10 yards out, and promptly shoved them backwards at a rate of knots before Luke at No 8 grounded the ball. It’s no exaggeration to say that had they not been stopped by the vegetation over the dead ball line, Hampstead would have been shoved onto the Finchley Road as our pack completely dominated theirs.

 

Conversion missed, and it was 14 – 5.

 

This gave us some heart though, and after half time we went back at Hampstead again and again. It has to be said, defending as they were in a bog with very little footing, their defence was very good. We were unable to breach their line in open play, but it wasn’t long before they infringed again, and we managed to march them back over their line once more from the resultant scrum, for Luke to control well and dab down for his second. Oli made the conversion, and it was 14 – 12.

 

Having learned their lesson, Hampstead began moving the ball through their backs to try to stretch us, occasionally kicking over the top where the ball was well fielded at 15 by Lee. We had 2 good centre pairings in each half though, and the oppo found themselves smashed back in the tackle repeatedly.

 

It was therefore only going to be from a cheeky move that Hampstead were likely to get over our line, and this happened when their scrum half sniped around a ruck and darted through. Was there obstruction at the ruck? I can’t comment as I was trying to clean a fleck of mud from my collar and by the time I looked up he was over the line.

 

21 – 12, after Jonny did the honours again. Against the run of play as we were starting to get on top of them.

 

To prove this, about 10 minutes from the end Jack McGrath (fresh from only having played a half owing to our unusually well stocked front row cupboard this week) forced his way over the line near the top right corner. Totally understandably that far out and with dreadful footing, the conversion went wide and we were at 21 – 17.

 

Having subbed myself off just previously owing to the mud incident, I can tell you that the next 10 minutes or so were seriously nail biting. Hampstead’s 3rds had come down to support, and I could hear them worrying that their lads were tiring as we repeatedly attacked their line. All of our forwards carried hard, and there were several winces on the touchline as the huge impacts continued – with Mike again earning his corn by hitting their lad so hard that we heard him whimper as he went down.

 

After a very long advantage though (following yet another ruck infringement) the slippery ball eventually got the better of us and it just rolled forward after a pass. Hampstead snaffled it and hoofed the ball off the park. Cue much relieved cheering from them and I was reminded how close our previous match was, when they had the same reaction after they won by 2 points at Marble Hill.

 

Thanks on behalf of the whole team to Cocksy and Big Steve for organising the new kit, which looks great and actually fits. A real feel-good factor from this and very much appreciated.

 

Finally, although I’ve mentioned it above, what a fantastic effort to get over 20 lads through the other side of London, via the revolting North Circular traffic, in order to meet this fixture. Having 5 or 6 subs to rely on to replace tired legs or injured team mates really is a great relief, and long may it continue.

 

Nice one lads.

 

Cheers,

 

Will.

Bulldog Ealing Exiles 10

A great game played in good spirit from both sides in atrocious conditions.

 

With Northolt having cried off mid week, Colin sorted a friendly fixture with our old friends Ealing Exiles, who we beat just before Christmas. The other team available for a game were Whitton Lions, so no doubt Colin thought long and hard for approximately one millisecond before choosing the former.

 

Unfortunately, we struggled for numbers all week, and our 15 became 13 on the day owing to a few players having to cry off with work and childcare commitments.

 

We did the sensible thing and stayed in the changing rooms until approx. 5 minutes before kick off because it was too cold. And rainy.

 

Upon getting to the pitch, I had a word with the Exiles Captain Jez (nice bloke) and explained our situation to him and the hilarious Munster Man John – our ref for the day. Jez immediately offered to slightly even up the numbers by calling for “Colonel”, who introduced himself by explaining that he has a heart condition and at various points in the game he might go a little quiet but just to ignore him – he’ll just be trying to sort out his heart arrhythmia. John nodded sympathetically and it struck me once again the sort of exalted company we keep at the club – you couldn’t make it up.

 

30 minute halves were agreed, with the ref, who was swaddled in wet weather gear and wearing a Munster Beanie hat, imploring us to kick off as soon as possible because “It’s fecking freezing and I’ve got to drive back to Ascot for the Ireland game.” Pure class.

 

With Ealing having arrived with 16 on their team sheet therefore, we played the first half a man down, but you really wouldn’t have known it. The fact that the pitch resembled a first World War Flanders bog made our playing strategy a no brainer from the start. Not much point kicking as the ball just dies on its arse, so we might as well try running it from everywhere. The fact that several of their forwards clearly couldn’t remember the last time they’d ever missed a McDonald’s drive thru also informed our decision.

 

Throughout the game our tacking was superb, and the effort put in from one to, well, thirteen or fourteen, was great. It was after a trademark blast up the middle by our forwards that the ball was spun through the hands (no mean feat in that weather) and Trevor crossed the line.

 

Unfortunately, he forgot to take the ball with him the first time, but he made no mistake a few minutes later when in a carbon copy of the first move he dabbed down in the corner. One condition that Jez and I agreed on before KO was that as it’s a friendly, the scorer must take the conversion which Trevor duly did – narrowly missing and hitting the post. A good effort with the pitch being so muddy.

 

There were too many hilarious moments to single out individually during this match, but the sight of the ref being unable to blow his whistle without a sound like a strangled fart emanating from the thing sticks in the memory. As does Colonel sorting it out for him by blowing loudly down each end, unclogging it and then unceremoniously showing it back into John’s mouth – where he promptly almost swallowed it. He then spent the remainder of the game whistling with abandon at every break in play, so that obviously made his day.

 

Sadly, our old habit reared it’s head again though, and it wasn’t long before Ealing came back with a score of their own. As this was fortunately scored by one of their forwards, he did the decent thing and missed the conversion, which left us at 5-5.

 

The remainder of the first half continued in much the same vein, with once again our heroic defence thwarting what at times looked like certain tries by Ealing. We genuinely never gave up, which was great to see.

 

After half time, we lost Colonel to Ealing, but two of their players unaccountably had to rush off so numbers-wise we were about the same ratio. There were unconfirmed reports that those two were on curfew and their electronic tags were about to go off, but I think that’s just childish rumour spreading.

 

Whilst the driving rain and bitterly cold conditions continued into the second half, we were only about 10 minutes in before Trevor damaged his shoulder. Ealing’s scrum half was a physio and with Trev in a lot of pain it was mutually agreed that it would be better if he went off, although that didn’t stop us bantering with their lot that “well you would say that, wouldn’t you?!” All in jest, of course. To literally add insult to injury, Trev also suffered the ignominy of having his leg humped by our mascot – Sidney the Bulldog. (Phone number on request, Trev). When it doesn’t rain….

 

Therefore, our 13 became 12, and we were seriously up against it with their 3 man overlap.

 

Time and again though, we kept on smashing them back. With uncontested scrums, their large frames were largely rendered useless after the inevitable knock ons, and we did well in the line out as well as we were considerably more mobile (and light) than they were.

 

However, at our level a 3 man overlap always eventually tells, and after their enormous South African forward had once again taken about 3 of our guys with him, Ealing finally exploited the overlap and scored with about 5 minutes left of our shortened game. Conversion missed, and the score ended at a more than respectable 10-5 to Ealing, considering the circumstances.

 

A fantastic game though, and I know it’s a tired cliché but the moral victory genuinely was ours on the day.

 

Sadly, the 6 Nations and several players’ work and childcare issues meant that The White Swan was pretty quiet numbers-wise afterwards. Our old Captain, Simon, was on hand with his wife and daughter and he gladly lent a hand with the burgers. Fortunately I caught the landlady before the full 25 were cooked so we have 15 in the bank for the next home match. (The 3 of us players plus Simon’s family had 2 each).

 

Liam our scrum half (who had been nursing a sore shoulder for most of the game following a tackle) later texted me to tell me that he had ruptured his AC Joint, and my suggestion of drinking 5 pints of strong lager and wiggling it around a bit hadn’t, in fact, helped. Get well soon mate.

 

A break next weekend for the 6 Nations before probably an away match, although I’m not sure who against if anyone can help?

Bulldogs Vs Ealing Exiles

One more report to go!!
We arrived at the ground to a sight to gladden the heart….the grey haired, whiskery captain sinking a Guinness in the bar half an hour before kick off.

The portents took a slight turn for the worse once we were on the pitch though, when through injury, illness and in a few occasions probably pre night high jinks, our vaunted squad of 20 plus had dwindled to 15.

Plus, the referee was Australian, AND knew the rules. Not good.

The first 20 minutes were score-less, although this was a feat in itself considering a certain returning player had obviously taken a liking to the grass on the Ealing side of the pitch, given the fact that he spent most of the game lying on their side of the ruck with commendable disregard for his own back. (Skiv).

We had to go to uncontested scrums mid way through the first half owing to Stoner popping a rib. This was a shame, as we were doing well in the scrum, and it also meant we were down a man for about 10 minutes until he bravely came back on for us.

As ever, around this point the Dogs began to tire, and Ealing duly scored their first try.

We quickly replied with another one from John Dev though, and the half ended roughly even, although Ealing did disgrace themselves by kicking for the posts after another indiscretion, and actually MAKING it.

In the second half, Ealing began to empty their bench as we all looked on longingly at what might have been. With several players playing out of position (including young Liam at full back when he is actually a scrum half) we leaked a few further tries, although Frank was nicely on Hugh’s shoulder after one of his typical sniping runs to finish another try off for us under the posts.

In true breakneck Bulldogs pacy fashion, the action then moved to our own try line, where after a heroic turnover effort from the forwards, our fly half for the day – Oli from BA, did one of the best comedy knock ons ever. He caught himself between 2 minds as to whether to kick or pass, and in the event did neither – watching helplessly as the ball dribbled out of his clutches whereupon one of the Ealing forwards gratefully flopped onto it.

This in no way detracted from a very good game that Oli had with some great kicks and good interchanging with Skiv’s mate Louis at inside centre, and we all agreed that we would never mention it again. Whoops….

Whilst Ealing were a nice bunch, Luke made a good point, which I mentioned to the Ref, about the fact that they were holding on in the tackle and generally diving over the top on a far too regular basis. They actually had a man binned for this, but it did continue throughout the match which led to inevitable frustration culminating in Luke being binned himself for a stray elbow. Could have happened to anyone and all taken in good heart.

The game ended as 29 points to Ealing and 14 to the Bulldogs, and in an ongoing theme I’ll finish with some key points:

Special mention goes to Tom Skivington for playing in the front row in his first game back for 5 years. Despite it going uncontested in the first half, he put in a shift and his bloodied face at the end told its own tale. I dread to think what his back looked like.

Louis, Skiv’s mate, was invaluable at getting us out of our half as he did some powerful runs at inside centre and stopped their big guy in his tracks. All the more impressive given that he is a winger and this was his first time playing in this position. Luckily he had a fat bloke called Will on his outside pretending he knew what he was doing so that’s alright then.

Also, big thanks to Liam for filling in at 15 (nobody’s favourite position) and to the 4 BA guys – Cocksy, Stoner, Oli and Tony. Tony in particular was a sight for sore eyes when he loomed into the changing room and confirmed that he was, in fact, a prop and not a frustrated winger or anything ridiculous like that.

A good pint or 3 in the bar afterwards plus some sort of Pie that looked like it had come in through the window, and we all set off into the Ealing twilight.

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Bulldog vs Haringey Rhinos.

Saturday 6th January away

Result : Bulldogs 19 Rhinos 31

The gentle musing of Frank Revil: a game at outside centre.

Despite a worrying lack of enthusiasm through the week, a rallying cry was sent out and we headed to North London with a full 15 and a gentle hope of repeating our famous victory from last year. Our opposition, however, had other ideas and we were greeted by a cheerful chap who informed us that the first team had decided to cancel their game to aid their cousins in the 2nd team. They had now moved from a scratch team of 13 to a more generous, complete team and 6 subs.

Not to be deterred we formed a game plan and stuck to it. The forwards took their opposite numbers on head to head and showed the cheating buggers what a proper team can do. It was only when they realised that we were a little light (and slow) around the wings that they unleased their outsides, who, unfortunately for us, ran like gazelles and they notched up two quick tries. Going back to our original plan of sticking it up your jumper, we clawed back a great score with the forwards pushing the scrum back 15 metres for Luke to tap down. With the conversion added we were still in the game.

No quarter was asked or given from the pack who routinely made ground and smashed the rhinos off the ball at every opportunity, ably assisted by Hugh at 9 and Oli at 10, the rest of the backs had it pretty easy until Ben (who had got bored) took his chance, seized the ball and ran through the entire pack of fatties to score under the posts. Once again the extras were added and we were up to 14 points.
The weight of the game had started to take its toll on the weaker of our opponents and, after another mighty smash from Gunny, one of their poor little souls went down. Mr O’connor was on hand to hear the great line ‘I’m not sure what happened ref, but can you tell me what time the game starts?’ Needless to say he was unceremoniously removed and so began the inexorable emptying of the bench.
The game continued at pace and they scored another try which took us into half time 3-2 down.
Early into the second half Jon D pulled up with a dodgy calf. Not to be deterred, he simply asked if he could change to the other side of the second row as he could still push with his other leg. It encapsulated the clear difference between the spirit of the two sides and we pushed on.

As the game wore on however it was clear that we were struggling to match them for numbers. It often seemed that we rarely marked the same man twice and where one man fell there was another man, often, younger, stronger and fitter, to take his place. As is our way we carried on in good spirits and Hugh managed to score a cracker, once again breaking through their pack and making monkeys out of their defence.

This proved to be the final straw as they then opened the metal shipping container, which until now had sat charmingly to the side of the pitch and let out their last subs. It soon became clear why they were called Rhinos. These fellows were big, bad tempered and charge in straight lines when angry. Despite all this we held fast and only conceded two tries in the second half to lose a pretty close game, 5 tries to 3. It was a heroic effort however and all the lads who took part can feel rightly proud of their efforts. With an equal number of players (a stewards enquiry is taking place as to how they managed to get 6 subs instead of the regulation 3) there was every chance we could have nicked it, instead we retired to the showers to rub each other’s backs

Thanks must be given to the two baby Rhinos who chose to play for us in the second half, had it have rained then the winger might actually have tipped the scales at 7 stones, maybe that is why he was wearing goggles, who knows.

Confidentiality Notice and Disclaimer The information contained in this e-mail, including any attachments, is intended only for the named person, firm or company to whom it is addressed. Such information may be confidential and privileged and no mistake in transmission is intended to waive or compromise such privilege. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or action taken in reliance upon, information in this e-mail by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please return it to the sender by replying to the message, then deleting it from any computer system. We will not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage or disruption caused to your data or computer system, which may occur while using the attached, whether as the intended recipient or in error. The statements and opinions expressed in this e-mail may not represent those of the group. Services provided by the group are subject to, and are provided in accordance with, the group’s terms and conditions of business which are available upon request. Charles Street Solutions Limited (registered in England number: 3321313) and subsidiary companies: SoftDesign Services Limited (registered in England number 3308447) and ENG Holdings Limited (registered in England number 4233271) all trading as Charles Street Solutions. Registered office Charles Street Solutions Limited and subsidiary companies: 2nd Floor, 28 Throgmorton street, London EC2N 2AN ¬¬

‘IN TOUCH’ BULLDOG MATCH REPORT

A sunny Saturday at Marbill Hill Park marked a new era for Bulldogs RFC and British Airways as they combined and played their first league game under the new guise of ‘Bulldog Flyers’.
The opposition, Hayes, who themselves have survived extinction in recent years, came with a new look side, younger, faster and with more tattoos than the east wing of Parkhurst.
A rousing team talk from Colin opening proceedings, painting a vision of returning rugby to the core values of sportsmanship, integrity and good, enjoyable rugby.
Early indications suggested we might deliver on all four, the Bulldog Flyers dominated the early phases.a strong pack, providing a good platform for some adventurous moves in the backs. Mick (not Nick),Chewy’s Aussie neighbour, denied a dream debut score. He collected a charge down and grounded beyond their try line only for it to be ruled out for an earlier infringement (of the referee’s judgement). Hayes continued to defend their line as the BFs failed to capitalise on their possession. Hayes eventually countered and opened the scoring through their pacy backs (their non smokers).
The Flyers regrouped and recommenced their assault. Once again the forwards made the hard yards before match day captain Luke powered his way through for the Bulldogs 2nd try. Once again it was ruled out after the ref sought the advice from the opposition (double movement they said)!
With ball in hand Hayes were proving to be a handful and within minutes they had raced in for a second which was duly converted…0-12. BFs finally got their reward following a line out in the corner. “Captain Luke Park Walker’ collected at 4 (one of many) and with a shunt from the pack Michael was able to ground and register our first points. With the score at 5-12 at half time it looked there for the taking.

A familiar theme was beginning to emerge, Bulldogs over exuberance was resulting in missed passes and handling errors (which given we are new to each other probably not surprising). Hayes picked up the loose ball and countered once more running the ball in for their 3rd which was soon followed by 4th as the BFs ambitious endeavour once again proved their undoing.

The backs had defended hard and for once were the beneficiaries of a turnover. The ball was recycled through the forwards and the resulting power play saw Henry reduce the deficit to 12-25, although by now too late for any kind of upset.

As the game reached it’s conclusion the speed of the opposition’s back line was used to run around the weary legs of a proud but frustrated Flyers team who had left everything on the pitch. The final score 12-32.
The winner of the day was Rugby…alright…ok, it was Hayes but Bulldog Flyers will be back and in time will emerge as a cohesive force to be reckoned with.

Ealing vs Bulldogs RFC

We arrived at the ground to a sight to gladden the heart….the grey haired, whiskery captain sinking a Guinness in the bar half an hour before kick off.

The portents took a slight turn for the worse once we were on the pitch though, when through injury, illness and in a few occasions probably pre night high jinks, our vaunted squad of 20 plus had dwindled to 15.

Plus, the referee was Australian, AND knew the rules. Not good.

The first 20 minutes were score-less, although this was a feat in itself considering a certain returning player had obviously taken a liking to the grass on the Ealing side of the pitch, given the fact that he spent most of the game lying on their side of the ruck with commendable disregard for his own back. (Skiv).

We had to go to uncontested scrums mid way through the first half owing to Stoner popping a rib. This was a shame, as we were doing well in the scrum, and it also meant we were down a man for about 10 minutes until he bravely came back on for us.

As ever, around this point the Dogs began to tire, and Ealing duly scored their first try.

We quickly replied with another one from John Dev though, and the half ended roughly even, although Ealing did disgrace themselves by kicking for the posts after another indiscretion, and actually MAKING it.

In the second half, Ealing began to empty their bench as we all looked on longingly at what might have been. With several players playing out of position (including young Liam at full back when he is actually a scrum half) we leaked a few further tries, although Frank was nicely on Hugh’s shoulder after one of his typical sniping runs to finish another try off for us under the posts.

In true breakneck Bulldogs pacy fashion, the action then moved to our own try line, where after a heroic turnover effort from the forwards, our fly half for the day – Oli from BA, did one of the best comedy knock ons ever. He caught himself between 2 minds as to whether to kick or pass, and in the event did neither – watching helplessly as the ball dribbled out of his clutches whereupon one of the Ealing forwards gratefully flopped onto it.

This in no way detracted from a very good game that Oli had with some great kicks and good interchanging with Skiv’s mate Louis at inside centre, and we all agreed that we would never mention it again. Whoops….

Whilst Ealing were a nice bunch, Luke made a good point, which I mentioned to the Ref, about the fact that they were holding on in the tackle and generally diving over the top on a far too regular basis. They actually had a man binned for this, but it did continue throughout the match which led to inevitable frustration culminating in Luke being binned himself for a stray elbow. Could have happened to anyone and all taken in good heart.

The game ended as 29 points to Ealing and 14 to the Bulldogs, and in an ongoing theme I’ll finish with some key points:

Special mention goes to Tom Skivington for playing in the front row in his first game back for 5 years. Despite it going uncontested in the first half, he put in a shift and his bloodied face at the end told its own tale. I dread to think what his back looked like.

Louis, Skiv’s mate, was invaluable at getting us out of our half as he did some powerful runs at inside centre and stopped their big guy in his tracks. All the more impressive given that he is a winger and this was his first time playing in this position. Luckily he had a fat bloke called Will on his outside pretending he knew what he was doing so that’s alright then.

Also, big thanks to Liam for filling in at 15 (nobody’s favourite position) and to the 4 BA guys – Cocksy, Stoner, Oli and Tony. Tony in particular was a sight for sore eyes when he loomed into the changing room and confirmed that he was, in fact, a prop and not a frustrated winger or anything ridiculous like that.

A good pint or 3 in the bar afterwards plus some sort of Pie that looked like it had come in through the window, and we all set off into the Ealing twilight.

Bulldogs 24 Whitton Lions 20

A stunning and well deserved victory for the Bulldogs

Following an 11th hour cancellation from Haringey, Colin managed to get us a fixture against Whitton Lions, avoiding the dreaded Waitrose shopping day alternative. Many thanks, Colin.

I initially feared the worst when it got to 2.30 and the opposition changing room remained empty, until Mike gave me the worrying news that the oppo had been on the pitch training for at least half an hour already, and had decided to get changed outside.

The match began well, and it was not too long before Mike’s cousin Tor, playing at fly half, sidestepped his way to the line. This was converted, and things were looking good.

However, in what was to become indicative of a see-saw, entertaining match, it did not take long for Whitton to reply, and it became clear that despite the fact that they are in the league below ours (I didn’t know there was one) they knew how to play.

It was in the intervening period that it became apparent that Whitton employ a slightly dubious moral code when they take to the field, which if I have it right runs as follows: They are allowed to engage in late, no arms tackling, strangle players at the maul and spear tackle the opposition. If said opposition object and take matters into their own hands then they are a disgrace and shouldn’t be on the pitch.

Well, we obviously did react, and they didn’t like it.

Thus followed a litany of penalties for the initial transgression and then our justifiable reaction to it. In one hilarious exchange, their Captain wanted to kick to the corner after a penalty reversal, only for one of their forwards to run up to him screaming “I’m the captain of the forwards and we should do this!” Much mirth and banter from the Bulldogs, and Karma was restored when said forwards supremo had his head split open soon afterwards (probably by one of his own team who had got fed up with him) and spent the rest of the match on the touchline hurling abuse at us and making incorrect observations with a Nappy stuck to his head.

Back to the game though, and the next try for us came from a glorious line out throw from Mike O’C (laser guided) which set up a textbook Bulldogs rolling maul, from which our returning Skipper of yesteryear, Simon, scored.

The tit for tat tries continued though, and after a Whitton score or 2 they entered half time in front, having crassly kicked for goal following yet another penalty, even though they’d been saying all match that it was only a friendly.

So to half time, where yours truly courageously stripped off his shirt, turned it inside out and subbed himself off. As agreed beforehand, our considerable bench was emptied and I am pleased to say that everyone who turned up came on and played a half.

The second half was a tighter affair, and our problem was that their enormous full back (who I later found out from the ref was normally their number 8) somehow managed to be underneath every ball that we kicked, and ran hard at us every time. A definite pointer for future matches: don’t kick it to him!

Although Whitton had the Lion’s (bants) share of possession in the 2nd half, we still managed to score 2 further tries. One was a forwards effort finished off by John from BA, and the other was I think we will all agree a fairly lacklustre and simple opportunity that Martin just about managed not to squander.

The final 10 minutes were as tense a period as I can remember for the Bulldogs, as Whitton repeatedly attacked our line to defend their unbeaten record this season. Some heroic tackling held them out though, and we emerged finally victorious, much to the disgust of their coach, who clearly got confused as to which game we were playing and thought he was in charge of Millwall.

We all went back to the White Swan afterwards, and proving that they can at least leave their anger out on the pitch, quite a few Whitton players did come back and had a drink and a burger with us. Good on them.

Bulldogs 24 Whitton Lions 20

A stunning and well deserved victory for the Bulldogs

Following an 11th hour cancellation from Haringey, Colin managed to get us a fixture against Whitton Lions, avoiding the dreaded Waitrose shopping day alternative. Many thanks, Colin.

I initially feared the worst when it got to 2.30 and the opposition changing room remained empty, until Mike gave me the worrying news that the oppo had been on the pitch training for at least half an hour already, and had decided to get changed outside.

The match began well, and it was not too long before Mike’s cousin Tor, playing at fly half, sidestepped his way to the line. This was converted, and things were looking good.

However, in what was to become indicative of a see-saw, entertaining match, it did not take long for Whitton to reply, and it became clear that despite the fact that they are in the league below ours (I didn’t know there was one) they knew how to play.

It was in the intervening period that it became apparent that Whitton employ a slightly dubious moral code when they take to the field, which if I have it right runs as follows: They are allowed to engage in late, no arms tackling, strangle players at the maul and spear tackle the opposition. If said opposition object and take matters into their own hands then they are a disgrace and shouldn’t be on the pitch.

Well, we obviously did react, and they didn’t like it.

Thus followed a litany of penalties for the initial transgression and then our justifiable reaction to it. In one hilarious exchange, their Captain wanted to kick to the corner after a penalty reversal, only for one of their forwards to run up to him screaming “I’m the captain of the forwards and we should do this!” Much mirth and banter from the Bulldogs, and Karma was restored when said forwards supremo had his head split open soon afterwards (probably by one of his own team who had got fed up with him) and spent the rest of the match on the touchline hurling abuse at us and making incorrect observations with a Nappy stuck to his head.

Back to the game though, and the next try for us came from a glorious line out throw from Mike O’C (laser guided) which set up a textbook Bulldogs rolling maul, from which our returning Skipper of yesteryear, Simon, scored.

The tit for tat tries continued though, and after a Whitton score or 2 they entered half time in front, having crassly kicked for goal following yet another penalty, even though they’d been saying all match that it was only a friendly.

So to half time, where yours truly courageously stripped off his shirt, turned it inside out and subbed himself off. As agreed beforehand, our considerable bench was emptied and I am pleased to say that everyone who turned up came on and played a half.

The second half was a tighter affair, and our problem was that their enormous full back (who I later found out from the ref was normally their number 8) somehow managed to be underneath every ball that we kicked, and ran hard at us every time. A definite pointer for future matches: don’t kick it to him!

Although Whitton had the Lion’s (bants) share of possession in the 2nd half, we still managed to score 2 further tries. One was a forwards effort finished off by John from BA, and the other was I think we will all agree a fairly lacklustre and simple opportunity that Martin just about managed not to squander.

The final 10 minutes were as tense a period as I can remember for the Bulldogs, as Whitton repeatedly attacked our line to defend their unbeaten record this season. Some heroic tackling held them out though, and we emerged finally victorious, much to the disgust of their coach, who clearly got confused as to which game we were playing and thought he was in charge of Millwall.

We all went back to the White Swan afterwards, and proving that they can at least leave their anger out on the pitch, quite a few Whitton players did come back and had a drink and a burger with us. Good on them.

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