Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Confessions of a Rugby Amateur

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

...by the skin of our teeth!

"Winning is a habit" - Vince Lombardi



10 minutes.

10 crazy minutes was all it took. To turn a game around. To break the visitors hearts. To spark euphoria in a sleepy market town. To turn a dismal weekend into a season highlight. 10 minutes to remind us all what is truly great about our game.

Okay, okay. A tad melodramatic, I admit. But Saturday’s epic win will go down in Cow Lane folklore – 11 points adrift heading into the final minutes before the greatest comeback the club has ever seen.     
The Boys celebrate the final whistle 
The Game was a physical war of attrition, more Agincourt than Twickenham with bloodied bodies strewn across the pitch. But in and amongst the brutality were glimpses of divine brilliance. A deft cross-field chip from Newton landed straight into the gleeful hands of Chennells who cantered over the line. 10-3.

Stortford fought back through their muscular forward pack. The referee reset scrum after scrum on our five-metre line before eventually awarding a penalty try. We finished the half with a slender 13-10 advantage. We probably deserved the lead but it had been a well-balanced, tense and absorbing game.

After the break, Stortford raised the physicality. They lacked creativity in the backs so relied on their hard running pack to make the holes. A succession of quick pick and goes and offloads created space for Fly-Half Coleman to weasel through a gap and the visitors had the lead.

Stortford looked the press home their advantage, using the conditions to keep us pinned down in the now legendary Tring Corner. However, a Rorke’s Drift-esque defensive effort kept them out, repelling scrum after lineout after scrum. A show of valiance that would have dampened Churchill’s eyes. 

Just when it looked like we had dug ourselves out of the hole, a truly horrific mistake by yours truly, gifted them a try. We’d forced a turnover and from the scrum, I broke right into the gapping hole where they winger should have been. Just as I was offloading to Chennells, their Open-side knocked the ball from my hands. Stortford pushed the ball wide from the turnover and scored. Schoolboy error.

As the seconds ticked by with the visitors’ defence holding strong, I started to despair, fearing a split second hesitation had cost us the game. Hope was fading fast.

Then, in a display of na├»ve arrogance, the young Stortford number 10 decided to express his delight in the score line. In his view, the Game was over, they had ‘embarrassed’ us on our home pitch, we had ‘nothing’.

Like a red rag to a rampant bull, these choice comments gave us the energy boost we needed. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, with the Stortford pack running on empty, we pressed hard down the centre of the field - the Mateai Express flattening our new friend Coleman. A crash ball in the centre before the ball was spun out to Newton, to me and then to JP who finished superbly in the corner. 18-24.

We continued to push, sensing the tide had changed to a Tring Tsunami with wave after wave of Tring pressure. We were camped on their line before Newton popped a quickly taken penalty to an on-rushing Chennells for the inevitable score under the posts. 25-24.

In a final act of Karmic retribution, the Fly-half's restart didn’t go 10 metres, gifting us a scrum as the last play of the game. The ball kicked out, deafening celebrations from the sidelines, 5 wins from 6 games, and poor Sam Coleman left to ponder what might have been.

Chin up, son!

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