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.
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