September 6 2011
It was the right kind of day for the start of the season, the pitch looked green & rested, with the threat of a little rain, spirits were high & despite a few late cry offs, a full squad turned out ready to get underway.
When the opposition kicked off, the ball was taken by the home flanker, who barrelled his way through three would be tacklers, before being brought to ground between the away 10 metre line & their 22. You may have noticed by now that I am not referring to the Falcons, but Gateshead 3rd XV playing Washington in my first friendly of the year.
Having had several cry offs further up the team structure, many of the threes moved up to the twos & the fourth team game was abandoned in order to supply bodies to the threes. That is how I ended up warming the bench (running touch to be factually accurate) for my first half of the season.
From the off Gateshead attacked, the first try coming in the first five minutes, with good carrying from the forwards, a couple of slick passes to the backs & in near the posts, making the conversion all the easier.
The second try came from a turned over scrum, the ball worked to the opposite wing & young Gary backing himself to get past the last two men to score in the corner. The conversion missed, but it was the start of the fight back for Washington, who managed to start winning rucks & hold their own scrum with a little more conviction.
Washington were rewarded with a try before half time, good line out ball & backs running on to the ball.
The half time talks done & dusted, play resumed much as the first half, to & fro from both sides, the handling a little rusty, some of the tackles a little soft, & then I was introduced, replacing the 1st half hooker, who had been making his senior rugby debut. Straight in to the fray I lost the ball at my first tackle (shoddy support play, I hasten to add, nothing wrong from my end, honest guv’) redeeming myself with a couple of reasonable tackles soon after.
Washington had a great little hooker who gave me a hard time, fortunately his props were not at the same level & things evened themselves out. Gateshead took the next score from a rumbling drive, only for Washington to take a tapped penalty & their number 8 going over the whitewash (& a player or two…) for another unconverted try.
The last try of the game came with the last move of the match, 4th team full back Micky Eckstein taking the ball at various speeds past three Washington defenders to dot down in the corner.
So, here we are again the start of another season, a couple of new bumps & bruises, the new scrum cap holding up well, fitness levels improving & another six months to look forward to. I wonder if I’ll get a try this year?