Royston 2ndXV — Grizzlies

Grizzlies travel to Royston and register an impressive win

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon the Grizzlies made the journey up to Royston this week and played some great expansive rugby. Injuries still blight the Grizzlies so it was great to welcome back Pat O’Brien into the centres after having broken his nose, damaging his knee and shoulder this season, he was patched up and ready to go. We had a strong team bolstered by having 4 colts joining our ranks. There was Lewis Butterworth now a Grizzlies regular but in addition we welcomed Mahendra Sapuan-Leonard, Charlie Irish and Wilson Mujere for their first Senior game of rugby.

We won the toss and decided to go with the wind and slope advantage. From the off our big pack dominated non more so than our number 8, Ben Hardwick who had a flying start. Within a space of 10 minutes he had scored a hat trick. All from the base of the scrum, he picked up and he powered his way over the line each time. Robin Bye gladly converted all 3. 21-0. After that Ben felt he had done his bit and took a rest on the sidelines after twisting his ankle.

Then it was Pat O’Briens turn to score. He made one of his amazing line breaks leaving the defence in his wake and ran in the try under the posts. Robin converted. 28-0.

A shell shocked Royston came back though and through some good running rugby managed to create an overlap and scored in the corner. 28-5.

The forwards were laying down a great platform to get clean ball. With this the backline were having a field day with great distribution from Robin Bye at 10. Pat O’Brien with his storming runs at 12. Mick Foley at 13 weaving in out of the defence and the speedsters Darren Coley and Tawanda Mujere on the wings. Lewis Butterworth at 15 was having a great game running back the ball at every opportunity.

Darren Coley was his usual committed self both in attack and defence. Nothing highlights this more than when he took down one of Royston’s big forwards who was twice his size. Fully committed to the tackle Darren went steaming on to meet the rampaging forward. The hit was heard from the side lines. The on looking spectators took in a deep breath in as he was bounced but the impact spilt the ball from the opposition hands and a knock on was given. In attack too his work rate was outstanding and he was rewarded when he out paced the Royston defence to score our 5th try. Again Robin converted 35-5.

Mick Foley scored our 6th try with an amazing piece of individual skill. He read the oppositions play beautifully and intercepted the pass one handed and ran in from the half way line uncontested. Robin converted the kick. 42-5

The pack was working brilliantly as a unit. A lot of the reason for this is that we have had a consistent front row this season who are playing well together. Simon McGuiness, Darren Ead and Ally Ruffett form a great front row partnership. We had a new look second row with Jack Milburn and Matt O’Conor in the engine room. Alan Gray at 6 and Stu Williams at 7 and Ben Hardwick at 8. After Ben went off Stu Williams moved to 8 and Mahendra moved to 7.

You wouldn’t have thought this was Mahendra’s first senior game and first at flanker. He closed down and tackled the opposition well and ran with ball in hand whenever he had the chance, making good ground every time . Mick Foley took a knock and went off. Lewis went into the centres and another debutant Charlie Irish moved to full back. Again he looked very comfortable for his first Senior game. With his great pace and quick feet he cut through the Royston defence and made a great start to his senior career.

Half time.

On the other end of the playing career spectrum Darren Ead was having a good game at Hooker. Running great lines around the ruck he almost scored but unfortunately lost control just before grounding it – try avoidance me thinks! It wasn’t that obvious that he had spilt the ball but to his credit honest Darren professed that he hadn’t scored and play continued. He made up for it moments later when he took an almost identical pass and this time he managed to ground the ball. Robin added the conversion. 49-5

Royston weren’t dead and buried by any means and they came back strong at the start of the second half scoring their second try. 49-10.

Mahendra took a little knock which allowed Wilson Mujere his first start at senior level. After being at most of the Grizzlies matches this season watching his older brother Tawanda play he has been desperate to have a run out with us. He had to wait until he turned 17 which he did last week and he took the field raring to go. His contribution and impact just as with the other colts was fantastic. By his own admission it was a big step up and in his words “do they always tackle so hard?” even so he thoroughly enjoyed his first game at senior level. He made some amazing bullish runs and almost made it to the try line only to be stopped short.

Lewis Butterworth didn’t have any trouble finding the try line as he scored our 8th try of the game. His attacking play was excellent all game and was a constant treat. 56-10.

As the game entered its final stages there were a lot of tired bodies on the pitch and the Grizzlies pack took full advantage of this as we pushed their scrum backwards towards their own try line. The scrum was collapsed just before we could cross the line so our quick thinking scrum half picked up the ball and crossed the try line. Unfortunately, the Ref had awarded the penalty try so I can’t claim that one. 63-10.

We seemed to be camped out in their 22 by the end of the match and from a very similar scrum I picked up and went and this time managed to get the try. Robin with his amazing kicking boots on converted once again making it 9 from 9. 100% kicks made. Final score 70-10.

In the end it was good win for us and good to see that Royston could get 2 teams out which they have struggled with this season. For me it was most pleasing to “blood in” some more Colts and introduce them to Senior rugby. It’s the first season under my Captaincy that this is happening on a regular basis. It’s important as they are the future of this great club of ours and we need these guys to want to keep playing for OA’s. So special mention goes to Mahendra, Charlie and Wilson for making their Debuts for the Grizzlies and to Robin Bye for his superb kicking display…

“MoM” went to Ben Hardwick for his amazing first half hat-trick and he duly bought a jug of beer for his team mates!

“Chris of the day” was going to go to Honest Darren for try avoidance but then Foley decided to interrupt me half way through my nomination thus nominating himself for this fine award!


Kim Watson
Grizzlies Captain

Previous Encounters


Royston Rugby Club
Royston Rugby Club, Baldock Road, Royston SG8 9NU

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