Northern 21 Colts 38
Tough encounter on Tyneside
Billingham Colts 2017-18 30/09/2017 Away at Northern
Black Box – Ride on time – 1990
Report by Mr Munns
Time and tide wait for no man, so into this second season of Colts rugby we find that the squad has changed, players are older, they start to buy you a drink (just a hint), they start to party harder than you do or did, they play more aggressive and they start to drive so make their own way to matches. All of this could mean that you become redundant on a weekend and start on that list those projects you have put off, but no its time to watch Colts rugby, come on.
An away trip this week so no chance to wax lyrical about the greenwood road complex, AGP, Harry’s hill (reseeded) or the refreshed comforts of the bar. Lots of changes but if you think that the match report may be updated to contain more rugby, then I would stop reading now.
This seasons Colts have already notched two good wins as they travelled up to Northern located on the great north road in Newcastle. Various routes were taken by the travelling squad and supporters some less fraught than others. Everyone arrived in good spirits the day before 2 milestones with Luke (Colts Captain) maturing into 18 and Paul B maturing somewhere into the 45-55 age bracket. Both were preparing for high tempo celebrations although Paul would need a hand up onto the table he expected to dance on.
Jeff was of course on hand to organise, cajole and entertain but in the absence of Sean, David and Ritchie were pressed into coaching roles. A good turnout from the travelling supporters dotted about in various layers as it’s wasn’t as warm as it looks. Warm up drills were undertaken in a determined manner with a good squad assembled brimming with skills. The backs ran through the combinations with the M&S line (Munns, Murray and Sam) defending. This is part of the squad mentality as only 15 can start however the word substitute is not really apt. Some start and some come on, would you rather play and face a ‘ready to go’ side or would you rather come on after they have been chasing Jo and Alfie for a half. It is a squad game with starters and finishers, this squad has depth.
The report pad was taken by an ex-colt for a quick doodle which is named “3:00 in the morning alert!!!!” which I am going to enter in the turner art prize or antiques road show to make some money. Nice to see players from the Colts who were unable to play and others on the touchline .So bright day but rain in the air, the pitch is beyond the man one where the Northern 1st team are playing, club house to my back Billingham play left to right and receive the kick off. Game on.
Northern, white tops with dark blue shorts kick off to Billingham, no clear communication leads to a knock on. Scrum is taken against the head but is then stolen in the ruck. The teams exchange the ball with Northern gaining momentum with the play not leaving the Billingham half. Northern phases move the ball around and they pin Harry L in a ruck to win a penalty. The phases continue in the Billingham half with good defence not giving too much away, but Northern get the odd penalty to keep the pressure building. Northern tap gives it to the forwards who drive in making ground before the tackles slow them down and it isn’t long before a forwards surge and some long arms break the whitewash. As the Billingham conversations start the Northern conversion is good for 7 – 0.
Billingham Kick off moves them in to the Northern half and the games starts a sort of a pattern. Northern look to link through the forwards with nice offloads and good carries. The Billingham defence looks to contain and force the error, which they do with knock-ons and passes going astray. The Billingham back line look lively but handling lets a few chances slip, although they spend long periods deep in the Northern half. Northern attempt to clear with a long kick but they are called offside and taken back which sets up the attacking opportunity. Billingham look for quick ball, through a couple of hands as Lewis counters for the Billingham pack to bag the try. David shouts to get the tea on, which in my book means a hot brew, how nice. Luke converts for 7 – 7, both tries from the forwards and both teams working hard.
Northern kick off and again spend a large amount of time within the Billingham half, breaks come and go as do knock on’s and forwards passes. Billingham look to be working into the game but the rain starts making the ball slippery not helping the handling. Northern pop a ball high and it isn’t caught, before you know it a speedy Northern player is on to the bounce, without breaking his stride and out runs the cover defence. Converted again the home side lead 14 – 7.
The rest of the half is a tussle Northern attacking and using the kick through to turn the Billingham team around, Oscar at full back keeping busy across the pitch. Billingham defence is being tested mainly by the forwards and is broken only for the ball to be dropped over the line and knocked dead for the drop out. Half time is sounded at 14 – 7, as the rain gently falls. Luckily I had recently changed my wardrobe of attire over for autumn and have selected one of my warmer hats.
David comes on and the squad is rotated a bit so that some can get a breather. I will say at this point that some of the names I haven’t quite grasped but Ryan who was clearly a handy player as indicated in pre-season training was on. Unfortunately he is known as Brian to us due to an unfortunate miss-communication.
So second half, wet pad, Billingham looking to start well, minimal changes. The defensive work in the first half was slightly reduced in the second as Billingham looked to attack more controlled and deliver quick ball. The new rules at the ruck area mean that if you get tackled but there is support and present the ball it is very hard for the opposite team. Billingham used this to their advantage in the second half by using quick phases, good support play and then quick distribution to bring the runners in. First score went to Billingham, with a great pass in the line from Harry L to release the backs with Alfie bagging the try. Conversion from the far touchline was short giving a 14 -12 score.
Billingham received the kick off and put several phases together with penalties for hands in and coming in on the side giving a penalty about 10 yards out. The poacher extraordinaire, Luke taped and went himself as the defence made ready for a cheeky score then popped over the conversion for good measure. 14 – 19.
Northern kick off, well held by Billingham in the conditions who set off with the driving maul followed by moving the ball quickly along the line. Northern tackles several times stopped breaks and then the defence in the ruck was not allowing yards but giving penalties. Billingham were now employing the kick and chase pushing Northern back on to their own line, clearing kicks were setting the line outs up which for Billingham worked very well all afternoon. Taken off the top it allowed a quick release of the back line who were now making in-roads. A kick and chase saw Billingham’s next try from Alfie with the conversion falling short for 14-24.
All one way traffic, not a chance. Northern put pressure on the kick off and phases saw them create errors from Billingham that put them back defending their own line again. A couple of probing forward runs saw Northern get the next converted try for 21 -24. This one was going all the way.
Billingham switched around and the kick off saw Isaac with a good chase and Billingham turning over the ball. Several Billingham breaks moved the ball well, including a cracker of a run by Jo. Again the ruck work was quick and this provided the momentum. A couple of chances were knocked on but Billingham were playing in the Northern half. Good work again from the forwards with carries to get on position setting up a scrum close. The ball was there and nice hands and a great running line saw Alfie add to his earlier try and Luke convert for 21- 31. Would it be enough?
Billingham didn’t think so, the kick off saw Harvey catch cleanly then put in a driving run supported by the pack, the ball quickly moving along the line was countered by Northern. Again the kick was used to pin Northern back onto their line and a missed pass enable Billingham to get in with a score right in the corner, bagged by another Harry, hurrah!!!! Storm pinged it over from the touchline for 21-38.
The teams continued to the end but the final whistle was sounded with the score at 21-38, what a cracker from both teams. The cheers went up, handshakes were exchanged and fine hospitality was provided by the hosts.
Very hard work with and without the ball from the squad, at any point the game could have gone the other way but the work ethic was there to see. The director of Rugby obviously knew when he set the midweek training session up. This squad will develop as there are more options and combinations to explore; it is an on-going process.
So there is no room to mention the differences between Sean and David’s words of encouragement (not much really), rugby balls don’t bounce as you expect them to, £1.70 and I had no change!!!!!, angry old men on touch lines, I was only stroking the dog, Sambuca sweats and rugby player bites lion.
I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot – together we can do great things
– Mother Teresa.