The Grizzlies start their season off with a BANG!
This Saturday saw all 4 teams play at home, the sun was shining and it was a great way to start the new season off at OA’s. The Grizzlies faced Hemel 3s in a preseason friendly.
Hemel 3s are in our league this season so it was going to be interesting to see how we faired. I won the toss and chose ends with the sun behind us, Hemel kicked off.
From the off there was a spring in our step and we looked to move the ball wide to our pacey backline who managed to keep our average age for the team below 35. Our pack was looking pretty formidable with Grizzlie Old Boy Paul Kaiser rejoining us this season at Prop after a few years away. On the other side of the scrum Kieren Kelly, finally fit again after an injury struck season last year packed down with Simon McGuinness at Hooker. A fit Kieren at full flight is a sight to behold as he ran through and boomed the opposition players all day long.
Early doors Carl Lavin drove into the Hemel defence and made ground every time. Our first try came when he got illegally stopped in their 22 with a high elbow to his face which dropped him to the ground. From the proceeding tap penalty the ball was shifted quickly wide. With Lavin as a dummy runner it left a big gap for Steve Sibley at 8 to cross over the line to score. Darren Coley stepped up to take the conversion and kick it through the posts.
Our second try came from a powerful run from outside centre James Sykes who was a thorn in Hemel’s side all afternoon. They found it difficult to stop him and he found himself on the scoresheet again soon after with the move of the game.
From an attacking scrum deep inside our own half the ball was moved to through the hands to Robin Bye at 10 then to Mick Foley at 12 who broke the line to then release Jimbo at 13. He drew the defender then passed out wide to the on running Nathan Thomas at 15. There was a 3 on 1 overlap with Darren Coley screaming for the ball on the wing. With the last defender to beat Nathan chose to pop it inside to Jimbo again who ran in to score (to the dismay of Mr. Coley!) Jimbo took the conversion and scored.
The backs were having a field day and no more so than Lewis Butterworth who scored our 4th try. Once again Nathan Thomas was the provider with a lovely weighted pass to draw and fix the defender, he released Lewis into the most slender of gaps to score in the corner.
The pack was working well and with a big squad we could keep rotating Ben Hardwick, Jamie Temple, Alex Neville, Stephen Sugrue, Simon Huntley, Alan Gray, Fieldie Harrison all putting in great shifts to keep us on top.
It was our pack leader Simon McGuinness who scored our next try (5th) crossing the white wash after powerful forward play. Our 6th and last of the 1st half came from James Sykes who after having a try disallowed came back for the penalty for a high tackle. He took no time at all in tapping and going himself and from 10 yards out he wasn’t going to be stopped. Hat trick hero!!! Full of confidence he stepped up to take his own kick right in front of the post. Alas he miscued it and it went wide…
The second half continued in a similar fashion as the first. More powerful play upfront and the ball being passed out wide. Changes were being made as Chris Butterworth had a stint at 9 and Dan Johnston came on the wing and players were rotating in and out. It didn’t seem to stop the flowing play as tries were scored by Nathan Thomas, Kieren Kelly and Alan Gray.
Darren Coley finally got his just rewards when he ran in a superb solo effort. Gathering the ball from inside our own half and running it back, through and around the defence to score his try. He scored the conversion and kicked 3 in total for the match. Chris Butterworth kicked one and James Sykes kicked one.
There was just about enough time for a final bit magic from Lewis Butterworth. He had been running the Hemel defence ragged all day and broke through once again. He could have gone on himself I’m sure and scored but he looked up and saw a space behind the Full back. Unselfishly he executed the most perfectly weighted grubber kick to the on running Mick Foley. The ball bounced beautifully for Foley to gather and run in the try. Final score 65-0. 11 tries and 5 conversions.
It was a great start to the season and the most pleasing aspect for me was even though we had a big squad and a lot of changes going on the commitment from the players and flow of the game never altered. There was some fantastic attacking rugby with the ball moving through the hands and moves coming off left, right and centre. The Grizzlies stayed focused and played well with a good intensity for the first game of the season.
MOM went to the Hattrick Hero – James Sykes
DOD went to the Hattrick Hero – James Sykes for missing his kick right in front of the post and for not having time to write this match report!!!
Looking forward to next Saturday now where we meet OMR Lille a touring side from France. KO 1pm at Woollams.
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