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.