After the ridiculousness of lasts week ‘practice’ game against Old Mid-Whitgifians first team, the OC3VX’s had a more regular fixture on the cards against Park House 2’s this week. All the sides were playing at home, the rain was steadily gushing down outside, the changing rooms were bustling with players, refs, coaches, gaffer tape and the occasional reassuring waft of Deep-Heat; and I must divulge, I had 3 potential home wins on my mind. I was in shock having back to back call ups.
Stampy had taken the controversial, and rather early decision to play on the top pitch, something about playing a tight game against TJ’s, ‘their centres are mustard Blythey’ blah blah, leaving the vast expanses of the 2XV pitch/come sandpit available for the 3’s. A quick roll-call between Christian, Haggis and myself counted 14 players, possibly 13, we wasn’t quite sure. It depended on when Ian Gayle turned up apparently. I thought to myself…..I do love the 3’s. Then out of the corner of my eye, on exactly 14.40, Stampy appeared like a child-like Umpa-Lumpa (without the orange face and green bob haircut), chatting to some of our players. It transpires that 2 of our players should be playing ‘up the top’ in the 2’s leaving the 3’s, down to 12!
Cue Umpa-Lumpa #2 – Simon Hepden to the rescue. He unzipped his coat as if it was David Hasselhoffs leather jacket. ‘THAT’S IT!’ he proclaimed! ‘I’M GETTING MY BOOTS ON!’ – totally disregarding his neck injury caused earlier in the day while……….washing his face. I kid you not. Those bastard sinks.
We kicked off with 14 and they received. We tackled well initially and pinned them back in their own 22 for the first 10 minutes when the Park House backs finally worked it out that we had no left winger and started kicking into space and commenced placing unwanted pressure on our defence lines. By this time Simon Hepden’s gallant efforts had been thwarted; with the face washing injury coming back to bite him in the arse. Back to 13. A good spell by Park House saw them run in a couple of really good try’s, making the ball do the work. Some would say, this was there only option, as some of the players exceeded 20 stone – harsh but fair. As we gathered under the posts after another Park House try, looking at each other in slight disappointment, it was hard to not consider an absolute hiding on the cards.
But then, like arm wrestling Sty Stallone in that awful 1987 sport drama film ‘Over The Top’ (I would also comment at this juncture that this metaphor may be wasted as only 3 of our players were born before 1987!), our baseball cap ‘did a 180’!
We upped the tempo and aggression by a further 10%, all started by a quality side-line tackle by Geordie-Tim (Howay Lads!!), and we started stringing some good phases together through blues and blacks, and created a bit of space for the backs. This pressure led to our first try with Christian going in close to the posts. He slotted the conversion and we felt good. An almost identical passage of play, this time up the centre of the field by our nippy scrum half / trainee doctor, led to our second try in 5 minutes. 14 points in the bag when the half-time whistle went. The faithful 3’s supporters, Gary Hunt, Sean Drislane and H’s new treacle (Passy) roared with excitement under their cagoules and brolleys!! A few people started wandering over from the 1XV game.
At half time – one of the lads had to go back to work. One of the other lads had to catch a bus to Gatwick for a stag doo in Spain. We were now down to 11. I love the 3’s I pondered. At least they made the effort, turned up, and didn’t blow anyone out last minute I thought. I signalled to the ref and their skipper that despite our numbers we wanted to play on. It was a bit of a farce at this point as they had 50% more players than us. BUT, for 20 minutes they didn’t and couldn’t score. Henry Chapman was making some penetrating runs. Ian Gayle had drifted into the centres and was demonstrating why the euphemism ‘bar of soap’ is often used in rugby. Despite all of this, we were camped out on their line for a while. I attempted a Kieran Reid jump over the ruck 1 metre away from the line and failed massively. It’s easier said than done lads!
Despite some high calibre sledging from our pack ‘….how players do you want us to take off before you score you mugs?’, Park House played the game in a cracking spirit – in fact their skipper, Jack, came over commented on our character, courage and fortitude [slight exaggeration here]. The ref was a nice bloke too – will be interesting how many times I say that this season. They continued their kicking-in-to-space game, which quite frankly was becoming boring when every play is a chase, so about 30 minutes in our defence finally capitulated, and their big fella scored in the corner (I thought it was held up but there you go). The ref kindly blew up early, and I knew that the 3’s had given them a proper game despite having half a side. A massive thanks to the young university lads who came down – hopefully see you next week. I do love the 3’s. A jug of a beer and a bottle of R Whites Lemonade pre-shower was most welcome from the club – thank you. I was kindly awarded MOTM, and managed to down my pint in the boat race faster than the 2’s bloke next to me. Another moral victory. Andy O’Malley is in a different league downing his in under 2 seconds, but that’s university training for you!
Final Score 14-34
Next week we are at Guys Hospital – get your selection in boys and be part of the story #ILOVETHE3’S
AUTHOR: Bill ‘I’ve played all season’ Blythe