"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious." - Vince Lombardi.
And so the script was written. Tring needing a win to guarantee National 3 Rugby next year. Tring desperate to avenge a disheartening away loss earlier in the season under two inches of snow. The sun shining bright on the warmest day of the year. Our backs licking their predatory lips at the prospect of playing on a hard pitch with a dry ball. The stage was set.
Back in November Diss punished us at scrum time but our set pieces are enjoying something of a renaissance, given further inspiration from the James Buckland session last Tuesday. Rather than looking for ways to get the ball in and out as quickly as possible, the front five were eagerly anticipating the first scrum to test their new knowledge. We knew that if we could wrestle the scrum dominance from them then they would crack.
As the curtain raised to tumultuous applause from the expectant and well lubricated audience, we walked the boards with a commanding presence - is this extended ‘theatre’ metaphor doing anything for you? No? Ok.
The formula was simple. Keep hold of the ball and go wide when the opportunity calls for it - don’t push it straight away before we’re ready, don’t play 7s just because the sun is out, and keep our shape, structure and discipline. And it didn’t take long for us to reap the rewards.
We scored four first half tries, all coming from simple, basic Rugby executed well. The first coming from a breakdown near the Diss 10m line. We sucked there forwards in, quick hands from the backs and Liam Chennells crossed over in the corner. Simple Rugby.
The scrum proved solid all day and provided the stable base for the second try. A pop from me to Sam Clapham, quick hands from the backs and Liam Chennells crossed over in the corner. Simple Rugby…and a sense of deja vous!
The Front Row who were so impressive against Diss at the weekend
The third try was a mirror image of the first for John Preston on the other side of the pitch. The fourth…well…its quite hard to keep track of it all and play at the same time!
The second half continued much in the same vein. We took on a ruthless edge and turned the screw further. As the game began to open up, we started to relax and enjoy ourselves, producing some flowing moves and sparkling tries. A special mention should go to Sam ‘Clapriani’ for his magnificent, Holgate-esque solo chip and chase try…even though I was on his inside shoulder so he could have just passed it! And I suppose I should mention Liam Chennells’ five tries , three conversions and a penalty…but we don’t want to give him a big head!
Once we reached the bonus point, the next important milestone was the defence. We continued to work hard for the whole game, despite a late charge from the visitors, desperate for a consolation score. But through solid scrummaging, excellent scrambling and hard-nosed tackles around the breakdown, we held them out. 51-0 the final score at the whistle - brutal.
You have to say, Diss played their part in their own downfall. They were dogged and physical, their strong inside centre Fraser Hall proved a handful, but the writing is on the wall when a team forgets their kit at this level! I sympathise with them as it is a long way to come to get put to the sword but our professional and merciless performance was encouraging.
The win not only secures our position in the league next year but also gives us a springboard to jump further up the table. We are now level on points with Bishops Stortford and within touching distance of Civil Service and Staines. Winning the last two games would show just how far this club has come in the last few years.
Another interesting result from the weekend was Barnes comfortably beating Hertford and leapfrogging them to the top spot. This means will Hertford will be going all out until the end of the season to win the league, making the last game at Fortress Cow Lane a real humdinger!!
On a personal level, although it was an excellent team performance, I felt slightly off the pace again. The proof in the pudding will be at the Tuesday night video session but I don’t think I made too many actual mistakes but I didn’t make the kind of impact I was hoping for. It has been a real ambition of mine to play county rugby at Men’s level but the more disappointing performances I put in, the less chance I have of standing out. I have two games left to prove to myself - if no-one else - I am the player I know I can be.
What did you think of the game? Do I miss out anything important? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts...