Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Run In

So…just three games left of the season and I’m really regretting not starting this blog earlier! The now legendary Stortford result has given us a much needed boost, however, due to the unpredictable nature of this league, we are not quite safe yet.

Ideally, we need to win our last three games, two at least, not only avoid relegation but to push on up the table. The league has been surprisingly even this year, throwing up some genuinely surprising results. This means that 10 points currently separates five teams. On a positive note, if we have an unbeaten run in then we could leap frog a number of teams and finish upper mid table. But, on the flipside of that, if we fall foul of any potential banana skins then we could slip down into the bottom three which would be a disaster. It all adds to the ongoing drama and makes for an exciting run in.
The business end of the season looks like this:

26.03 - Diss at home
09.04 - North Walsham away
16.04 - Hertford at home
We are hoping to get our revenge on Diss this Saturday after a poor performance in the snow in November. Despite their poor league showing this year, Diss will have that in-built confidence when playing an already vanquished enemy. It is up to us to produce a professional and clinical performance in front of the hopefully large home crowd.

Then comes North Walsham. Away. Quite simply a huge game. I’ll be brutally honest…it’s not a particularly nice place to go. A three and half hour bus ride isn’t the best way to spend a Saturday morning, made worse by David Shotton’s horrific chat! The ground itself is ok but is guaranteed to be either a mud bath or a rock hard dust bowl.

Scrum-half Sam Clapham against North Walsham earlier in the year
North Walsham play a fairly ugly and scrappy form of Rugby - much like us I suppose - so this fixture is never one for the purists. They are a tough and physical side who have an unconquerable resilience. In three years playing in this league, I have yet to beat the East Anglians - I was injured when Tring did win - But we have heartbreakingly thrown away leads in the last minute a number of times now and we are determined to put this right come April.

Then the final game of the season at home to league leaders Hertford. We have played this fixture for the last two years and against the odds, we scraped a win both times. Hertford tend to treat this game as a 'dead rubber’ without anything to play for. However, as they are in a close run battle for the top spot with Barnes, this year will be very different. We know what to expect from our Hertfordshire rivals and as it’s the last game of the season, will put everything into it…even if we have to be carried off the pitch - the prospect of Saturdays at B&Q rearing its ugly head.

So how are preparations going for the big run in? We had a welcome and well deserved break last weekend. After the heroics of the last game, a few of us were struggling. I haven’t felt that sore and stiff after a match for a long time and I was still feeling the affects on Tuesday - by the time I had trotted up to the field after seeing the physio, the session was over!

A weekend off during the season is a strange feeling. It is a flash forward to the Summer with seemingly endless afternoons being dragged round shops, switching into autopilot - ‘Yes it looks lovely, dear’, ‘I agree, those curtains would suit the colour scheme’, ‘Dried flowers in a pot is exactly what our bedroom is missing’ - sparing a knowing look to other husbands and boyfriends suffering the same fate!

I exaggerate of course. Last Saturday was actually a very enjoyable day (she might be reading this!) and it is certainly a refreshing change waking up on a Sunday without feeling like you’ve been in a car crash. But I have signed myself up for as many 7s tournaments as possible this Summer just in case!

Yesterday, we had a training session with Aylesbury which gave us a chance to have full opposition. We had some intense training on scrum technique from London Irish hooker James Buckland which was a real eye-opener. Diss’ main strength is their scrum so hopefully the front row will be able to put some of this session into practise on Saturday.

The mood in the team is one of confident expectation. There is usually an ‘end of term’ feel to the last couple of games in a season but not so this year. With our survival/mid table finish very much in our own hands, we are all working harder than ever in training to maintain this momentum. There are still plenty of dangers and difficulties in the run in but we’ve come too far to throw it away now…surely?!

No comments:

Post a Comment