Following on from the last update on rugby, we have finally played that rescheduled game.
The First half – The Grueling Reality
It kicked off like most games, slow and steady. the opposition scored a try and converted and that moment changed the game. Our own game became rushed and intense. I don’t mind high intensity games but I dislike rushed games because they create more risk. You end up playing yourself into rucks, narrow defenses and then you begin conceding points. The opposition came under pressure in their own 22 metre zone, they got frustrated at our efforts to disrupt the breakdown thanks to our forwards. The opposition started to scream into the referees face which resulted in that player receiving a yellow card. Either at that same moment or two short minutes later, another player was yellow carded. That meant we had 15 players and they had 13. You’d naturally assume we would gain the upper hand and score a number of tries or at least kick over a few points. It was not to be. We did score a well worked try, this was manufactured after we were awarded a penalty on the left side and we kicked down the line into touch to take a lineout 10 metres from the oppositions line. Our forwards retained possession and formed a rampaging maul and pushed over the line, Try scored! The opposition scored more points in the 10 minutes they had 2 players off than we did. Just at the end of the first half we had a penalty right in front of the posts, to which we tapped the penalty and tried to drive our way over to no joy (we actually did down the ball over the line but the referees perspective was of course different to our perspective).
The Second Half – The Desire not to Lose as opposed to the Desire to win
The second half kicked off and we played a rushed game as opposed to the plan we agreed at half time. Conceding two tries with the 40th and 55th minute. After conceding two tries our heads were down. They were leading 35-7. A few changes were made due to injury and tiredness. We began to organise ourselves and play a bit more riskier. This paid off, it lead to a lot of gain line success and meters made. A number of pressure relieving kicks forced the opposition to play out of their 22 metre zone resulting in an intercept try (35-14). Continuing to keep the pressure on in the oppositions 5 metre zone this lead to another 2 tries, one came from a beautiful line break and an under hand offload which passed through the hands of an opposition player and landed in the hands of our player who made the last 5 metres to score a try (35-21). The second came from a crash ball with a good leg drive, our player found space and got over the line to score (35-28). Again, after being awarded a number of penalties, we tapped the penalty (10 minutes remained) and went for the try. It took roughly 4 minutes to force our way over the line (35-33), it was out wide on the left, meaning a pressured kick, the opposition rushed our kicker early as he moved forward and kicked…….. and missed, resulting in a retake. Was it to be second time lucky? The kicker sets himself, moves forward with no pressure from any opposition players trying to run and block him down…. its a miss. That 4 minutes of play really took it’s toll on the team. The score was now 35-33 and with 4 minutes left on the clock we would have to force our way up the pitch to try and win with a try or force a penalty for a draw. We came under a lot of pressure because of a number of mistakes. Not catching the ball from the dropout and knocking it forward and a number of penalties inside our 22 metre zone. We managed to hold them out in the last 3 minutes. The last play of the game, scrum awarded to us on our own 5 metre line. What were we to do now? the backs were saying they were tired the forwards were also tired after taken more than enough carries into contact to beat the average. There was an agreement on the pitch that the team would run it out. Sure it was only 95 metres to the oppositions try line. It was a case of lose or win big. The ball came out of the scrum and was passed right to the fly half who out the inside center on a crash ball. The center took it into contact beating a number of players, a quick clean ruck followed, fast ball was now made available, the ball was flung out to the fly half who passed to the outside center, he made a number of yards which was made available by the previous skip pass, the center then passed to the full back who took on the opposition on the outside (the mistake was made when the center thought the full back had more gas than him). A covering player came steaming from the left side of the pitch to make a covering tackle. Our player just remaining short of the touch line, we had one support player with him who went into the ruck, suddenly a trailing offside opposition player went to the side of the ruck and kicked the ball into touch. That action which was deemed legal at that moment meant the end of the game. The final whistle blew, the final score 35-33 to the opposition.
What was set to be a trashing in the first half turned out to be a heroic fight back to just fall short. The comeback was a win in itself but we all know, the feeling of losing is always triumphant in the mind of a sportsperson. At least for the short term.