Colts lose close game in Cumbria
Egremont edge thriller!
Billingham Colts 2016-17 09/12/2017 Away at Egremont
Report by Mr Munns
Well the Christmas season has crept up on us and I find that the last report of 2017 has to be penned which will involve thoughts on 2 matches plus the usual miscellany of back ground banter.
The week was very busy with a visit to London then back for jogging on Tuesday, I had actually forgotten the visit of Durham school on Wednesday plus our attendance was still being though about at that point. Anyway the decision was taken to “man-up” for Wednesday and so the usual trip was made down to the Greenwood road complex.
Observations were that the Durham school squad is well drilled and very fit, but most of all they really want to play and complement each other. They are always in support, moving around the pitch to provide support runners and willing to get stuck in at the ruck. Billingham worked very well in short bursts, with Alfie scoring first but couldn’t sustain either the quality of play or the work rate which played into the hands of Durham school. There were times when the Billingham squad linked well and put Durham school under pressure but like all good teams they looked to defend well and make every yard hard work, at points like this you have to be patient as they will force errors. Once an error is forced they move into attack quickly and move up the pitch at pace, plus usually take most chances presented to them. Billingham did very well to keep going and were unlucky not to get more in the way of points over the match. A sobering experience but one that highlighted many aspects where we need to move to another gear, which may be an emerging theme.
Given the weather reports the day before about the white out it was a nice surprise that the trip over to Cumbria was still on. This was tempered by the hour on which the house had to get ready on Saturday morning ready for the eagerly anticipated bus trip with Jeff M, the joke factory and other assorted revellers. Christmas jumpers in hand we made our way down to Greenwood Road where the carriage awaited as did the crazy gang, with some opting to take the car (shovel in boot). The usual varied conversation raged during the trip including such highlights as dogs with dentures, don’t mention the tax man, the rejuvenating qualities of tomato soup and over the counter Viagra.
The driver was a reserved chap but was making good headway towards Penrith as we stopped to pick up 3 men by the side of the road. Comparisons with the Christmas story were shattered due to the lack of gold, frankincense or myrrh but a carrier bag with tins in it. No bright stars in the sky but the journey continued via the sensational views of a snow laden lake district then out towards the coast for our destination south of Whitehaven.
A nice one pitch club nestled between hills and coast with our hosts nipping out to get milk, not that I saw anyone with a coffee all afternoon. The players disembarked, some circling the club house hunting for stray burger and in various stages got changed and appeared to warm up, with an early kick off looming. Quite a good warm up in a cool climate but not really switched on, but it’s back into the changing rooms to run out with the crowd swelling with locals. I wander round to the far side of the pitch to get a good view of the far touchline, more news on this later. A few lost souls in hats look across to the favoured club house side.
So kick off time with Egremont in black and gold trim kicking off playing left to right as I face the club house and look across the pitch. Just before anyone says you didn’t make many notes, I did just they repeat several things many times. Early first half Egremont came out of the blocks and laid out their stall with an early try and several chances to make it more. They also opted early to take any penalties that were kickable to move the scoreboard on, a very good thought. Luckily the Billingham re-guard was working overtime to chase down kicks and sure up the outside runners so the try count was kept down, no sign of a structured attacking play from Billingham so far. Again Egremont looked to work the ball with an outside then inside move out on the wing bagging another try.
Now on balance it looked like one way traffic but at 13 – 0 the hard defensive work at least had controlled the score as Egremont could have easily been 20 or more points to the good at this stage. So a bit of a push saw Billingham move up the pitch only for a knock on to result which again was frequent throughout the match. Egremont countered again forcing Tom P to control and ground the ball over his own line for the 22 drop out. A long kick saw a good chase and pressure applied with the Egremont half with kicks to clear then taken back in as Billingham looked to structure some attacks. Broken play saw Alfie and Jo put in good runs but unfortunately the defence held until Sam Wilson saw a gap and evaded a couple of tackles to go over. 13 – 5 at least looked a bit better.
The teams then traded tries with Egremont bagging a kick and chase despite a cover defender being eased out of the way in the build up to go 20 – 5. Billingham countered as the scrum looked to assert itself to give a platform and Alfie popped up with a strong run. Jo stepped up to convert for 20 -12.
By now the teams were trading attack after attack, Egremont would kick over the top or try and get round the outside on a wide pitch, and Billingham would look to punch up the middle to release Alfie or Harry B. Billingham were still behind due to the early scores and loose handling meant that a few overlap chance came to nothing. 20 – 12 at half time but could have been much worse.
I exchange pleasantries with a visiting film crew and discover that my voice carries onto the footage as some kind of commentary; apparently they can bleep certain words out. At this point I discover that the usual weather report is missing so clear day comfortable with coat and hat on with intermittent snow flurries as the game progresses.
So Billingham look for a better start to the second half and the phases start to build following the kick off with the forwards looking to make in –roads, a quick break from the flyers gives Jo a chance to stretch his legs and another long run to go over for the try, which he then converts for 20 -19.
The fixture enters a pivotal period as both teams are eager for the next score and trade attacks with turnovers going each way, most of which could be due to slightly dubious play from both sides as most of the time the ball can appear when handled by a player clearly on the floor. Egremont are making sure that the Billingham flyers are securely tackled with Jo limping off injured after another solid game. Egremont take a penalty kick, do they think it will be a tight finish??? To move out to 23 -19.
The next passage of play sees the kick put in form both teams with varying results, giving the ball away to either teams full backs does not seem to be a wise option giver their speed and strength. Egremont build for another attack down the touch line but Alfie reads a pass and he’s off like the clappers with only the full back to beat who lines him up only then to see his number as he speeds past. 23 – 26 with Billingham just ahead for the first time.
All still in the balance as Egremont move up the pitch regularly moving over the gain line, a penalty is given which they kick over for 26 – 26. At this point both teams are up for it but most of the comments come from the Billingham team. Now sorry to break into the game but at this point I would like to raise a little quibble about the type of comment and content being used on the pitch. It is a personal opinion but I have always found that the positive comment, great tackle Harry or communication its going left Harry is much better and more helpful that random coarse phrases about what we should do. It is dependent on personal choice and how you motivate yourself but getting wound up is usually not the best thing. For further reading check out -From red heads to blue heads: Gazing into the All Blacks' mental skills
So Billingham kick off and all square with the action happening down the side line, see I told you I would get to it. So Egremont attack up the far side and the crowd think they have scored but there is a foot in touch indicated by Jeff’s erect flag (see earlier discussion point). Egremont switch the play across the other side and towards your correspondent, sloppy tackling gives a gap which they ground the ball with the player on the side line. Both line judge and ref confer and the try is given but team players decide come across to argue with both. So firstly the referee is unlikely to change his mind and due to the argument may have given a yellow for dissent, but the main thing was we lost the game there because we didn’t think ok it’s a try lets go and get one back, we let the injustice of the situation cloud the situation. There are no slow-motion replays, no big screen, was he in touch as he grounded the ball or did his momentum take him out after???????? Try given let’s get on with the game. 31 – 26 after all the kerfuffle settles.
Billingham kick off and look for that way back but despite several attacks with a bit of loose passing the chances are minimal as Egremont close out the game and kick out on the full at full time. The inquest starts in various little groups as Christmas jumpers appear across the team and supporters. The club house welcomes all as a comfortable atmosphere is enjoyed by all. Various players head towards the Spar, other corner trading stores are available, to stock up on refreshment and the bus resembles the Madison for those of you who remember it in its heyday. All manner of joyous celebration brakes out and discussions turn to Jeff’s enormous puds, I kid you not.
So the 2017-18 season so far has seen a squad laden with talent put in a good start, but now questions are starting to be asked so can they respond and develop? It is great to see the likes of Alfie, Jo, Sam W, Harry B and Coops use their speed to brake and run those long tries in, but if they get tackled we have the support runners or are you watching them like me but without the pen? The game doesn’t stand still, players don’t stand still. Teams we have played will work out our strengths and counter them, it is up to the squad to then adapt and give them more problems, then adapt and give them more problems, then adapt and give them more problems, I think you can see where this is going. There are matches to come that I would say that we should have a fair crack at, there is only the Durham School match so far where we were well out of it, the other losses we had chances just we didn’t take them. Do I think we could win in a tight match, yes because we still have the squad with the skills to do it; it’s about applying and developing them together.
So no time this year for knock on torso, Isaac’s new Uncles, special forces lay-by, 9.30 would be rude not to, kaftan sleeping bag, crispy underfoot, what no port?, something flicked my bobble on the way past, Yorkshire puddings hats for period costume dramas, com’on Harry, relationship advice - go to Leeds festival, what more rugby content?, next year’s Christmas card, Chris Hyndman-legend, game DVD with subtitles (****) and It’s like a family this rugby club.
Have a great festive period to all of the Billingham Rugby Club family.
Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that's very important for good health. -Dalai Lama
When adversity strikes, that's when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on. - LL Cool J