Old Colfeians’ 2XV are having a superb season. Wise old heads coupled with exciting youngsters have been at the core of what so far is an undefeated league campaign. Healthy training attendance, squad depth, and their very own coach! Such things would have been merely pipe dreams in the years gone by and it surely is no coincidence that the Didgeridoos are flying as a result. However, nothing was meant to last forever. Saturday, on the surface, appeared to be the midnight strike for this Cinderella story. Club-wide ‘back’ unavailability meant that the 2s normal game plan of throw it wide and let a McDonald score would have to be rethought. After a couple of morning drop-outs the team began the match with a bare fifteen players and no subs. The total number of recognised ‘backs’ stood at a measly four. On the contrary, Medway, who must have been looking for revenge after a defeat to OCs earlier in the year, arrived with a full cohort and seemingly endless parade of coaching staff and were warming up a good hour before kick-off. In true Colfeian 3XV style Andrew Foster (aged 40) arrived nonchalantly at t-minus eleven minutes to kick off and was in sheer disbelief that he was now not only starting but packing down at number 7. Even a mind as tough as his must have thought doom awaited.
However, spirits were high. Pre-game it was declared that the team that day had two options. Roll over in defeat and blame those who weren’t playing or be part of something special and go out there and blooming win the thing! Inspiration secured; it was now time for perspiration. The game didn’t start too brightly for OCs. Your author forced an offload while in our own 22 and after a couple of phases Medway scored in the corner. But we rallied and worked our way back into Medway’s half with both lineout and scrum functioning admirably. After a succession of scrum penalties 5m out from the oppo’s line OCs spread the ball out and after a couple of phases Joe David dotted down in the corner with Ryan Napper adding an impressive touch line conversion. Medway kicked off back to OCs for us to spin it wide and into the hands of Chigo Orjih, hereafter referred to as Chigooooo, who made a superb line break showing good pace to leave everyone except Tunji Iwala behind and he was able to put a nice two on one away for Tunji to stride home for the try! The only sour taste in our mouths after that display of pace and power was that Tunji had pulled up and had to come off. Down to 14 men and now only 3 recognised backs OCs could have gone inside themselves, but this was anything but true. As the first half continued more set-piece dominance meant we could keep the ball and get the better of the field position. This culminated with a penalty for OCs which skipper Myles Regan wisely chose to shoot at goal. Ryan knocked it over to extend OCs lead to 17-5 at half time. The end of the half was marred by another injury. Club stalwart Dan Gardner had to come off after suffering a painful looking knee injury. This was a particularly big loss as Danny had been forcing the opposition hooker into a game of Pop up Pirates since the outset and which much of our scrum dominance had been built around. Foster moved to his usual home of hooker and OCs were down to 13.
The second half began, and OCs were back to it. Chigoooo seemed to be covering half the borough of Lewisham in the back field at times, and was a superb foil whenever Medway tried to clear their lines returning the ball with gusto. This heroic effort was needed as with Danny off OCs were forced into only having 6 players in the scrum and our first half dominance was gone. Back in our own 22 a nice turnover from your author was immediately followed by another dodgy offload and once again Medway pounced, spread the ball, and scored in the corner. However, not to be outdone OCs were back and following some ill discipline from Medway managed to get within 5m of their line. A penalty awarded to OCs and a smart tap and go from Ryan Napper allowed him to dance his way to the try line. Extras added and OCs lead was 24-10 with only a quarter of the match to go.
Medway fought back and found themselves close to the OCs line. They spread the ball out wide and looked destined for another score in the corner. But cometh the hour, cometh the Chigoooo who came hurtling across the field to smash the Medway winger into touch in one of the best tackles you’ll see this weekend at any level. Rallied by this heroic defence OCs cleared their lines and the game seemed to be ours to lose. But the rugby gods had one more twist for our tale. Following an unsightly brawl, sparked seemingly out of nothing by a Medway player who had lost all his composure, probably realising the result was beyond him, OCs lost two players to the sin bin for their somewhat limited involvement in the fracas. Medway also receiving a red and yellow card. This meant that OCs would finish the match with only 11 players! The size of the task that lay ahead for the remaining OCs men was revealed quickly when Medway broke away and due to sheer lack of cover, the only time that day Chigoooo couldn’t cross a time zone to intervene, Medway were able to score another try. 24-17, two minutes to play. A nervous crowd had gathered to watch the final stages play out and they were treated to a nail-biting conclusion. Once again Medway were able to spread the ball wide and with space ahead it looked like De Ja Vu. But this time Chigoooo was able to track him man and pull him down with nothing but the try line ahead of him. This allowed Ryan to get in over the ball and secure the penalty with the clock dead. Kick into touch and the game was won!
A fantastic game to be involved in and one that should make all 15 players very proud! No one really gave us a chance pre kick off but it shows what can be achieved with a bit of guts and a strong set piece! 1-15 all played well so felt harsh to pick one player out but MOTM went to Chigooo who truly put on a superhuman performance proving that his legs are indeed as fast as his mouth. Shout out to the boys who had to fill in out of position particularly the forwards asked to don a double-digit number but a nice treat for those shirts to be filled out for once. Onwards and upwards for the 2XV who no doubt will return to normal strength next week. One more game before Christmas and Ryan Napper will be asking Santa for another win, Ryan is yet to lose in 2021 for Old Colfeians, if I’ve now jinxed him, I’ll deservedly accept my lump of coal.
Author: Chris O’Malley