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Grizzlies friendly fixture doesn’t go to plan
It was a break from the league fixtures this week and we had lined up a friendly vs Fullerians. Unfortunately they couldn’t put a team out and so we had to find another oppo. Berko 2’s was arranged but again as luck would have it they canceled last minute. Hatfield combined 1s & 2s were looking for a game and took the fixture. As we were the only team at home we were given the 1st team pitch to play on which is a rare occurrence for the Grizzlies so I took it with open arms. Even if the team were not so enthralled.
The game didn’t start so well for us as Hatfield took an early lead on the 3rd minute as they crossed the line to score their first try. They missed then conversion 5-0.
It was a bit of a wake up call and the Grizzlies rallied and then asserted their dominance both in the scrum, line out and possession. Every scrum the Grizzlies pack pushed the opposition off their own ball. This resulted in several penalties being awarded in our favour.
After a sustained period of pressure camping out in there half Ben Hardwick picked the ball and drove over the try line for the Grizzlies first score. Chris Butterworth converted. 7-5.
Clean ball was coming out of the scrum as the forward turned the screw and asserted their dominance. In a lovely moved that saw the backs moving the ball through the hand. Chris Butterworth broke through the gain line and popped a lovely pass to myself who had to beat a couple of players before grounding the ball between the posts. Butters converted to make the score 14-5.
It felt like end to end rugby as the ball was run back and forth between the teams. Andy O’Brien making a great run down the wing beating several defenders before finally being shepherded out into touch.
As much as the Hatfield pack was having a torrid time their back line made up of mostly 1st team players were young, strong, quick and athletic and we struggled to stop them break through our defensive line. Uncharacteristically we missed far too many first time tackles and this resulted in Hatfield crossing the line for their second try. They converted the kick. Half time score 14-12.
The second half started in almost identical fashion to the first half with an early score from Hatfield. Again too many miss tackles and an interception pass saw them run in their first try of the half. 14-19.
Then came the score of the match with a superb solo effort for Mick Foley. Picking the ball up in midfield and running round the on rushing defence. A little goose step and show and go and he had broken the gain line. He still had a lot to do but his side step and change of direction saw him bamboozle the defence and he found himself heading toward the post. He grounded the ball and the try was given. Robin Bye took over the kicking duties and converted. 21-19.
With taking the lead again we would have normally turn the screw and dominate a game like this, but fast frenetic pace of the game suited the younger fitter Hatfield backs. Where we dominated in the scrums the first half we hardly had a scrum in the second and we played into their hands.
Hatfield response was almost instantaneous as they regained the lead a couple of minutes later with a powerful run from their 12 and poor effort of a tackle from yours truly saw him cross the line. Kick converted 21-26.
From this point on the Grizzlies lost there defensive shape and it felt like we were chasing shadows. Again too many missed first time tackles saw their powerful ball carriers run through us. At the break down we weren’t getting the rub of the green as too many of our players were being unfairly pinged for being off their feet. Their defensive line was creeping offside at every opportunity and disrupting our attack. But at the end of the day we weren’t savvy enough to deal with these problems and the game started to slip away from us.
They ran in 4 more tries before the final whistle blew. Their final try was a real kick in the guts as we were in their 22 and they managed to run it back and score. Final score was 48-21 to Hatfield.
It was a game that we should have done better in. Every player will put their hands up and say we could have defended and tackled much better. In an area that has been very good for us in the last few seasons, we seemed to let ourselves down a bit. A special mention has to go to our pack who absolutely destroyed their opposition numbers. Some really good performances from Ben Hardwick at 8, Darren Coley at 15 and on the wing. Mick Foley for his solo try.
MoM and “Chris of the day” were very contentious this week as players and supporters could not agree. Everyone had their opinion but at the end of the day my decision as skipper is final. MoM goes to not one person but the Pack as they really did dominate every scrum they had and with such a dominant display it is a shame we couldn’t have done more with the possession they gave us .
“Chris of the Day” will be shared between the man who the award is named after Chris Butterworth and yours truly. Neither of us our finest hour and although Chris will argue he didn’t drop the ball, it was ripped, a metre from the try line after a quick tap penalty either way, try avoidance. As for me I will take the bullet for an under par performance with some shocking miss tackles and being boomed by their number 8 at the line out after he said within ear shot of everyone, “Look at the gap they’ve given me to hit the number 9!!!”. My reply was stupidly “Bring big boy!”. Unfortunately seconds later I was smashed on the floor rolling backwards watching him run off with the ball.
Although I am very disappointed with the result it was a game that was played in the true spirit of rugby. I am delighted that one of Hatfield’s players after training with the team for a couple of seasons managed to get his first competitive game. Up until this game he wasn’t able to play due to his disability in one of his arms. Oppositions refused to let him play as they thought it would be a hinderance. He finally had his wish come true as he ran onto the first team pitch and played. To quote the opposition skipper, he left with “a smile like a Chesire cat”.
Next week we are back to League action, Hertford away.
I hope we can put the last few weeks behind us and step up when it matters.
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