Grizzlies notch up another impressive win
The Grizzlies preseason matches have gone far better than expected this year both in the result and the numbers of players we could field. With a great win against Bishops Stortford last week the Grizzlies put in another great performance this time against Belsize Park 5th’s.
Belsize brought a coach load of players to play both the Gladiators and the Grizzlies at Woolhams. Previous encounters with them have always been difficult matches due to the opposition and weather. At least for this game the sun was shining. At the start of the game we were informed that unfortunately they didn’t have enough front row players and so we would have to go uncontested.
The Grizzlies pack is one of our main threats and so we naturally did everything we could to make the scrums contested. Ally Ruffett and Elvis Mills kindly put their hands up to help them out in the front row. In the first 15 minutes we had put 3 converted tries on them with Pat O’Brien, Carl Lavin and Alan Grey all crossing the white wash. Robin Bye kicking the conversions. It felt a little bit of a no contest with the Grizzlies throwing the ball around, offloading in the tackle and making ground every time we had the ball in hands. But on the 15 minute mark after our loose head prop Simon McGuiness injured his shoulder and had to go off. It meant the scrums had to go uncontested.
Shortly afterward our second injury of the day, outside centre James Sykes had to limp off with a pulled hamstring. Again a reshuffle had to be made. Luckily we had plenty on the bench. After we were dominating in the scrums the younger and more mobile players in the Belsize pack took advantage of uncontested scrums and started getting back into the match. Their speed at getting to the breakdown meant they were winning the 50/50 balls much more. Their efforts were rewarded with 2 tries although they did come off the back of mistakes from bad decision making from the Grizzlies. Both conversions were missed.
After the little shock to the system the Grizzlies went about trying to regain some possession and territory and winning the breakdown battle. Jack Milburn helped get some composure back when he stormed through a broken defence to bulldozed his way over the line to score his first ever try for the Grizzlies. Club colours await Jack at some point. Half time score 28-10. The second half was more controlled in terms of possession and territory. The forwards really stepped up and earned the right to spin the ball wide to our flyers on the wing.
I was very proud of the interlink play, support runners and offloads from all the team. The backs started to really come into the game. Ian Rees and Robin Bye controlled the game well at 10. Andy O’Brien scored a great individual try scything through the Belsize defence to score. Fernando and Prince both scored with their blistering pace and elusive running. Louis Blundell and JP Robinson adding their names to the score sheet. Ian Rees kicking a couple of conversions. Alan Gray grabbed his second of the match with some quick thinking picking up the ball from the bottom of the ruck and diving over to score.
Belsize Park never gave up though and they managed to cross our line once more to take the score to 67-17. Before the final whistle we had time for another injury. New boy Tom Burman who came on for only a couple of minutes made a great run down the wing to only be tackled into touch. It didn’t seem like a bad tackle at the time but unfortunately he has dislocated his shoulder and fractured his collarbone.
We all wish Tom well and hope for a speedy recovery. It was a fantastic team effort both in attack and defence but a few mentions have to be made. Carl Lavin and Pat O’Brien with a try a piece made powerful line breaks and bone crunching tackles all match. Dan Johnston filling in at outside centre showed his commitment and made some big hits. Simon Huntley and Ben Hardwick superb in the loose. But it was our most senior player in our squad, Alan Gray who got the plaudits this week winning MoM for scoring 2 tries, being dominant at the line out and running all over the pitch from the start till the final whistle.
“Chris of the day” could not be separated as both players went off injured very early on in the game, almost at the same time and for things that didn’t seem very serious. Congratulations Mr Sykes and Mr McGuiness. Our first league game is next week away to Berkhampsted 1XVs.
I hope we can keep the winning momentum going.
|Old Albanian Sports Club, 160 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BB, UK|