Well, it was the proverbial game of two halves last Saturday down at Barn Elms. Getting changed in the ladies facilities probably explains why we played like a bunch of old women in the first half allowing Barnes to score some embarrassingly easy tries.
We started with just the bare 15 players with just "injured" Dyll on the bench in case of emergencies! But at least had a proper front row again which was a big relief to myself and Brendan who wouldn’t have to try and repeat our piss poor prop impersonations (how’s that for a bit of alliteration on a Monday morning?) This meant that we actually dominated the scrum throughout the game and won a fair bit of lineout in the first half. We failed, however, to build on that dominance in the tight and the looser the game was the more it suited Barnes as we didn’t push up in their faces in defence and probably threw the ball around too much as well.
They scored four tries in the first half to no reply from us and some of those tries were absolute gifts such as the one where their open side, who had a great game in the loose, pounced on a crooked throw from me to run 40 yards before they spread the ball and scored in the corner. We had our moments when we kept the ball tight and had a really good passage of play where a good driving maul off a lineout saw us in their 22, we won a penalty and from the resulting lineout we battered their line but they held us out. The penalty count was ticking up though as they continually had hands in the ruck or lay offside. Fair play to the ref for showing a yellow card for persistent offending but still we couldn’t make the advantage pay. We did try one really clever trick where Dave Steene took they restart from our own 10 yard line rather than halfway but apparently there are some laws against this…. Who knew?
In the second half though, we finally got our act together and played to our strengths and started battering them around the fringes of ruck and maul. Gaining five yards at a time but we did better at protecting possession and dominated most of the second half. They scored a breakaway try after we had the ball for 10 minutes which was a real sickener but we added two tries of our own when Ed Beck drove over and again at the death when yours truly picked up and dived over from all of two yards after BOF had made the initial yards. Both of these tries came after several phases where we drove at the line, recycled and drove again. Even the ref commented that they were both really good tries as we had shown patience and held possession for such a long period.
The Barnes captain commented afterwards that he was amazed when they thought they had us beaten we just came back harder and harder right until the end. We lost scrum-half Gabriel to pulled hamstrings (the kind of injury only young fit players get) and Steeny took over at scrum-half with Dyll Davies coming in on the wing. So although we lost (again!), we were thoroughly competitive and Barnes are no mugs having beaten Richmond away already.
Star man of the day was new loose head prop Ray who not only scrummages but jumps in the lineout and carries the ball….
Team: Ray Dennis, Declan Cronin, Richie Melia, Paul Clarke, Stephane Maillefoud, Brendan O’Flaherty, John Ronane, William Miller, Gabriel de Grigorio, Steve Weekes, Ed Beck, Dave Steene, Toby Phoenix, Adrian Hobbs, Greg Holdsworth
Ealing Evergreens: 12
Tries: Beck, Cronin