Saturday 10th December could not have been more different to the previous week as BSN Juniors faced Hookers at WRC (Te Werve). The weather was cold with continuous light rain, but following the dominant victory of the week before the mood was optimistic and the plan was for a repeat performance. No plan survives first contact with the enemy however, and the clash with Hookers was to be a very different experience, both on and off the pitch.
BSN Juniors warm-up in preparation for a bruising encounter with Hookers
Due to illness and unavoidable commitments turnout was limited to 16 players, forcing the Manager and Coach to change the team structure again from the week before, with squad members being asked to adopt unfamiliar roles. BSN supplied the referee and BSN and Hookers shared side-line duties.
Mark’s cunning plan for achieving greater height at the lineout is sceptically received by senior coaching staff
The match kicked-off on schedule and from the outset it was clear this was going to be a tough game. Both teams were clearly fired-up, remembering past encounters. The play was tight with crunching tackles and a few frayed tempers on both sides.
BSN forwards battle Hookers in an aggressive clash of wills
The first score came from Hookers after 18mins near the BSN right corner flag and was boisterously celebrated by the players and equally vocally by the away team’s supporters clustered in that quarter of the ground. The conversion was missed but the score seemed to bolster Hookers confidence levels who subsequently came on at BSN with increased forcefulness.
BSN Hector, Williams and Dennis engaged in one of many vigorous rucking encounters
BSN scrum on own 22m line
From the restart it was clear Hookers had their tails up and BSN was forced to dig deep with defensive action after action. From the spectators perspective on the side-line it was a thrilling spectacle to watch, although it was clear emotions were running high and there were numerous bruising tackles and individual heroics as team members all stepped-up to the challenge with their opponents.
BSN scrum-half spins the ball down the line
It wasn’t all one sided however and the final few minutes of the half saw BSN power through the Hookers defence to within a metre of the score line. A desperate Hookers defensive action ensued ending with the ball being carried over the line and a BSN 5m scrum awarded. Frustratingly BSN possession was lost and a touch-line clearance kick, that was so nearly charged down, eased the pressure. The half time whistle sounded seconds later with the score at BSN 0 : 5 Hookers.
Narrowly missed charge-down on Hookers try-line as BSN scrum-half gets in close and personal to the Hookers full-back
From the outset of the second half it was clear players from both teams had received stirring half-time team talks. Crunching tackles and rucks were the order of the day and, as with the first half, emotions and frustrations were bubbling to the surface as BSN repeatedly pressed down the wing with powerful running. Unlike the previous week however the Hookers backline desperately managed to force these attacks out of play, many close to the try-line. The wet conditions clearly made the ball slippery and there were many handling errors on both sides but it has to be said that from the comfortable perspective off the pitch it appeared a number of rucks in BSN offensive positions were lost and the ball overturned by Hookers who seemed to want the ball just that little bit more. Ultimately this fractional difference started to count.
Hookers breakout is faced down by BSN
Nine minutes into the half Hookers kicked through the BSN line and an impressively fast follow on, with a fortunate bounce of the ball, resulted in a surprise try. This was successfully converted taking the score to BSN 0 : 12 Hookers.
Both teams were clearly not going to give an inch and the bruising encounter continued. Hector had to be taken off (to his disappointment) following a particularly brutal encounter and Sandy luckily escaped relatively unscathed from an encounter with more than his fair share of Hookers players and the steel fence supports surrounding the pitch. The score remained the same until 30mins when Hookers broke through scoring under the posts. The try was converted taking the score to BSN 0 : 19 Hookers, where it remained until the whistle blew a few minutes later.
The final score-line does not do justice to how close the game really was. It was clearly a disappointing result and on occasions a tense encounter but, speaking now as a ‘rugby dad’, I was proud of the way the lads fought throughout the game. They didn’t back-down in the face of some very aggressive opposition and even though emotions boiled to the surface, they played the game with discipline and control. A credit to the BSN club.
Game stats (courtesy Neville (stato) Conway:
Half time score: BSN 0 : 5 Hookers
Full time score: BSN 0 : 19 Hookers
3 Tries (1 first half Hookers, 2 second half Hookers)
2 Conversions (second half Hookers)
Backs – Jay (Captain), Safwan, Williams, William, Sam, Seb C, Seb CL, Thomas
Forwards: Mika, Kieran, Alex, Elliot, Hector, Sandy, Laurence, Dennis