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Grizzlies dominate in the opening match of the season
This was the first ‘proper’ pre-season match for the Grizzlies with most of the players having had a run around in the inter-club match with the Gladiators the week before. Changing room banter was normal with a few people complaining that the shirts had shrunk over the Summer. Usual chaos with 3 players not turning up till 3:20pm so the Grizzlies had to start with a bare 15.
Stortford has not been a successful hunting ground for OA teams recently and as we ambled over to the pitch it was a delight to see 23 Stortford players going through their pre-match drills with cones and everything. It is probably for this reason that Kim Watson (captain of the Grizzlies, who picked the team) and Darren Ead (Fixtures Secretary, who organised the game) both decided not to play. Kim at Twickenham and Darren at ‘work’.
The game started badly with a dropped kick off and a scrum to Stortford. From then on, it was pretty much all OA’s. The first try came from a run-around in midfield. Butters then chipped forward for Darren Coley. The full back came across and under pressure gave a penalty away 10 metres from his own line. Butters tapped quickly and went over in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed by Robin.
The second try came soon after and was the culmination of about 8 phases with the Grizzlies moving about 80 metres up the field. It started with one of about 30 crunching tackles from the ever-ebullient centre, Pat O’Brien. Quite simply Stortford ran out of defenders and the exciting new scrum half, Ben Pearce finished off under the posts. It was collectively agreed that Kim now has the problem that he has another scrum half who he has to force up the club to keep his own place. Robin converted, 12-0.
We then had to put a new player Alex Neville (a second row) on the wing. He professed to having no idea what to do. Soon enough the ball came to him and he made a great run but was tackled about 30 centimetres short, had he reached out he could have scored but instead he selflessly popped the ball up to Robin who scored but missed the conversion to his own try. 17-0.
Our three subs (Saope, Prince and Tanyaradzwa) then turned up and immediately made an impact. Saope put in a great run and Simon McGuinness was the benefactor and on hand to tap down. Conversion again missed. It’s probably going to be easier to say when we managed to get a conversion. 22-0. Not sure what happened next but Tatenda then scored to make it 27-0. Ben Pearce then went in for his second try showing great pace through the gap. 32-0. The half ended with the Stortford 12 breaking 50 metres but falling/ being tackled just short of the OA line. The ref went back to half way to give the penalty advantage and disappointingly their kicker missed touch.
Half time score 32-0.
The third quarter was much better for Stortford with them scoring two tries and OA’s scoring 2 by Ben Pearce and Butters, hilariously from inside his own half. Someone thought they were having a stroke as everything was happening so slowly. Both were converted by Darren Coley.
60-minute water break score – 46 -10
The start of the final quarter brought us the champagne moment of the season. Butters and Ben Hardwick were on the half way line, chatting, catching up on the Summer out on the wing. Foolishly Butters shouted for the ball seeing two fat lads in front of them. Or was it a mirror? Butters went through the gap and fed Ben. Ben set off on a rampaging gallop and drew 3 defenders across to him. He then threw a 15 yard inside pass which unfortunately Butters managed to catch. It was like winding back the clock and there was a collective groan as he went under the posts for an incredibly unpopular hat trick. Helen took a picture of his new boots that he stole from his son. 53-10
We then went to uncontested scrums as Stortford ran out of front row players. Darren Coley scored a cracker from about 40 metres out. And converted his own try. 60-10.
Prince then scored but didn’t get as close to the posts as he could – kick missed. 65-10. Then the final act was Tatenda flying down the right wing, at this point there was more chance of Stortford collapsing from heat exhaustion than catching him. Conversion by Darren Coley.
Final Score – 72-10
All in all a fantastic team performance. Brilliant leadership by stand in captain, Pat O’Brien. Great lineout drill by Ant and Alan Gray among others. Fantastic effort by all the forwards in keeping us going forward. Good direction by 9 and 10, great tackling in the centres and proper gas out wide.
In light of the fact Butters scored a hat trick we decided not to award a Chris of the Day but gave the shy retiring character a ‘special mention’. Joint Man of the Matches went to Ben and Ben. Hardwick and Pearce. Unfortunately we have no pictures from the match but Butters has kindly provided some photos from his quiet night out with the match ball that he decided to award to himself for scoring his first hat-trick in 60 odd years..
Forwards: Ally Ruffett, Ant Riley, Simon McGuinness, Gareth Williams, Jamie Temple, Alan Gray, Ben Hardwick, Steve Sibley, Elvis Mills, Simon Huntley, Alex Neville
Backs: Ben Pearce, Chris Butterworth, Robin Bye, Pat O’Brien, Dan Johnston, Darren Coley, Saope, Prince, Tanyaradzwa Fernando
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|Bishop’s Stortford Rugby Football Club|
|Bishop\’s Stortford Rugby Football Club, Silver Leys, Hadham Rd, Bishop\’s Stortford CM23 2QE, UK|