Exiles beat High Wycombe in an anxious very mixed match, full of drama, a few yellow cards, missed tries, and stolen tries.
Captain’s log by Nick Greenhalgh.
Exiles were due to play Staines IVs on 5th March, however, for a second time this season our fixtures secretary had heard not a peep from them in confirmation by Thursday. So I found a number, left a message, left a txt, still nothing, then called it again in the evening and managed to get through to someone and find out that they would not be fielding an oppo for us! Luckily Paul M got on the case and found us an away game v High Wycombe IVs on the fixtures exchange. Many emails and txts later we had a team all knowing where they’d be going etc…
Saturday came, got to the club to find one of our boys still drunk from the previous days (no apostrophe as this is plural) birthday celebrations! Having managed to talk my missus into watching the game with my one year old son, I was much unamused to find the drunken player has surprisingly found no seat in any of the other cars and would have to ride with me and my family. Oh boy, I think we have seen the last of my family fan club, thanks for that boys!
After almost getting drunk on the fumes of my copilot we eventually made it down the M40 to High Wycombe. Luckily we had 16 players so our inebriated man could stay on the side line. However, sadly Barry’s foot played up after ten minutes and he had to take a rest. So we re-jigged the line up and put the birthday boy on. The ref was notified of his state and he agreed to let him play as long as all was well behaved. However, at half time he did have a word and asked me to switch him off for our newly arrived sub. T came on in place! However, from the side line much complaining seemed to carry on throughout the second half, much to the distraction of me trying to concentrate on the game rather than th side line!
Back to the game. We started well and managed to get a try within a few minutes. Spikey popped the ball out to me from a ruck and I found a nice hole in their backs to run through and dot the ball down between the posts. Shortly after Stef scored after a cracking run by Steve Richards. Stef as scrum half feigned to pass out to the backline where we had runners lined up and oppo expecting us to run it in. However, a quick dummy and dart and the try was Stefs. Then again a few minutes later I manage to intercept the ball from their scrum half and ran 15 yards over the line, but Lord only knows why I heard our Birthday boy screaming behind me so I looked over my shoulder and thought I’d pop the ball back to him to put down. However, just as I started to pass it an oppo member caught me and flung it forward. Very embarrassing! The oppo clearly thought we were now starting to take the p@#s, and rightly raised their game. My mishap probably cost us 14 points, apologies all round. The oppo came right back into the game with a vengance, and we started to loose our complete domination for much of the middle of the game.
We managed a third try after several phases of attack. The referee was called round to the back of a pile of bodies to see Fabio and Jareth cradling that oval ball cleanly overt the try line. Fabio scored it and Jareth just coveted it! Shortly after this the oppo struck back again and made great progress towards our try line. Our defense was a little frantic and players were not listening to the ref when he was shouting for them to leave the ball alone in a ruck. Dave Morgan picked up a yellow for this just before the end of the first half. We are more used to just getting penalties against us for such offenses. However, the ref was a little stricter than we are used to and so rightly we were down to 14 men.
Dave Mac gave a great half time speech emphasizing how we’d let our selves drop to a shameful level that we needed to clean up from. I think we started the 2nd half 4 tries to 2 up.
We faired better in the second half, yet the oppo were far from fading. ‘T’ managed to break through and score a nice try. Then finally the move that has failed all season was rolled out again. Dave Mac made a throw to the front of the lineout, into Effs breadbox. For the first time this season the ref deemed it to have gone 5 yards and allowed the move. Eff stormed the first hard yards nicely popping it out to Dave Mac who finished the job! Very remarkable!
However, the ref again was not happy with our enthusiasm at the ruck and this time Stef was shown the yellow card, and we found ourselves with 14 men on the pitch once more. The oppo took advantage of this and the score became 26-36 with about 10 minutes to go. ie at the rate the oppo were improving a feasible target. We had to pick up the pace, fill the gaps, keep the pressure on in order to hold our lead. We even used the tactic of kicking a penalty to use up some vital yellow card time. I can’t recall the last time we went for posts with a penalty.
Finally, about 5 minutes from the end the oppo opted for a quick line out from one of our kicks. Sadly for them they didn’t have anyone at the front of the line out and the thrower threw it straight to me! Undefended I managed about 20 yards before being caught, and a simple off load gave Stef his second try of the match and us an unassailable lead!
There were a few other incidents here and there on the pitch that I will not dwell on. We made very hard work of the win. At the start we looked like we’d be putting 70 points on this HW side. However, poor discipline and my daft missed try let them right back in the game. As this was not a league fixture may be this was probably a good thing, as I think we all learned a lot from this encounter. Due to the above the victory for me was one of the most underwhelming I’ve had, which is a shame.
Main points I’d like us all to think on.
- If you are drunk at match time – please do like Eff did a few weeks ago and don’t show up. You are a liability to the team and a nightmare for the captain to handle on so many counts (personal level, with the ref, your own team, the oppo, spectators, family etc etc.) and a complete unwanted distraction. Respect your team mates and don’t do this. Be nice to get an apology for this behaviour – but I won’t hold my breath for it! Sigh!
- If the ref makes a decision and you don’t agree, speak to your captain, never try and make him change his mind by arguing directly with him. How many times have you ever seen a ref act on such incidents? The ref, as ever, is RIGHT EVEN WHEN HE IS WRONG. How often do i need to repeat this mantra! If you challenge the ref, it is only likely to make him more favorable to the team that doesn’t! Don’t do it! Captain is the interface between team and ref – no one else!
- General point, the entire team needs to treat each other in a civilized manner, EVEN when dealing with a player who is committing the crime covered above in point 2.
- Keep an ear out for the ref and think about your position in rucks and mauls – way too many mistakes being made in this area of our game, cost us 2 yellow cards, and we probably should have picked up a few more!
When we take on London Welsh on 19th March we need to make sure none of the problems mentioned above enter our game or we won’t stand a chance of making the playoffs.
- Last week I spent way too long sorting out emails, chasing up our fixtures sec for confirmation, chasing up Staines direct for confirmation, working with Paul M on finding a suitable fixtures exchange oppo, txting and emailing round to make sure all knew. Not to mention various other club related matters. When it comes to Saturday I want to have fun on the pitch with my mates and not have to deal with grumpy boys who persist in crimes mentioned above or are too drunk to play or . Bit more respect for me and your team mates in future, please. Various people are putting a lot of effort into things that may be taken for granted by those who luckily enough to be able to just have to rock up for a game on Saturday afternoon! I could really do with other team mates stepping up and backing me up on the points I make above. If you think I am wrong please let me know and we can try and work on any issues, if you agree, please make sure you tell your other team mates that you do, and back me up here. We are a team and need to be responsible for supporting each other and agreeing on how we play our rugby. Without this broad support my will will start to wane! Do we need to set up and sign an Exiles charter?
Stef McCabe (2)
Spike (4) – one from the touchline!
Steve Richards – 1
Dave MacSweeney – 2
Jareth Keenan – 3,6
Thomas Laishley – 4
Anthony Lynch – 5
Gautam Tamang – 7
Alex Adide – 7,9,12
Nick Greenhalgh – 8 – Skipper
Stef McGabe – 9 + yellow card
Mark Davies (Spike) – 10
Nick Davies – 14
Neal Craig – 13
Dave Morgan – 12 + yellow card
Paul Havel – 14
Mike Salmon – 15
Barry Cousins – 3
Fabio Krasniqi – 6