A wet day in SW19 greeted the Spartans team for this MMT cup game against Bank of England. The small pitch meant we would have to be creative to gain space and the conditions meant we would have to be sure of hand in order to keep possession and keep scrums to a minimum.
The match started with both side trying to implement their game plans as best they could in the rain, the ball squirting loose on occasion but quickly being tidied up to prevent cheap turn overs. Spartans managed to have a decent spell in possession which saw them march up the pitch and thanks to a penalty, have an opportunity to get some points on the board. Tom duly stepped up and split the sticks.
This gave the opposition a bit of a wake up call and they rallied accordingly. Building on some steady possession they soon won a line out inside Spartans 22 and had a penalty opportunity of their own which was subsequently dispatched. The home team were galvanised by this and they soaked up what the Spartans could muster but despite good time in possession, the ball was eventually turned over, thanks to the tricky conditions and some butter fingers.
Some stout defending by Spartans led to a hard drive for BOE and after a long slog they eventually found themselves in the red zone. Despite being held back on two or three occasions their pack bundled over in the corner, at which point the Spartans skipper reminded us that we were there to drive and not be driven. This was the spark that we needed.
As the conversion skewed wide a steely determination came over our team, we knew we had a bit of work to do if we wanted to see our way through to next round. The rain finally relented and the sun came out and Spartans began to shine.
Quickly getting the ball under control from the restart, Spartans began to probe the BOE defence in search of gaps. There was some great strike running from Kristian and Ollie in the pack, seizing on any and all opportunities we could find. Both sides knew that a battle was in store and both must step up to the mark.
Two injuries (Jacko with a split brow and Tom with crocked ankle) failed to de-stabilise Spartans drive and despite there having to be a little bit of reshuffling in positions we did not falter. Ollie struck out at a gap and was driven over to score a try. As James ably stepped up to fill in for Tom and slotted home the conversion this let the opposition know we were there to play some serious rugby.
After the restart BOE offered some resistance but with the ball still greasy a scrum was soon give. Spartans pack were putting in the hard yards and securing the ball, the preceding attack leading to Tramp muscling his way through and touching down over the try line.
Half time came with Spartans in ascendency however we knew that there would still be work to do. Billy and Gentsy departed their words of wisdom on which the team would build on.
Both teams came out fighting and the next 10 minutes where a frenetic clash as both teams vied for possession. Spartans eventually retained possession long enough for Ollie to repeat his feat and touch down for another well-earned score. Hurrah!
BOE were down but not out and a good spell in possession lead to them bagging another try along with a conversion. Boo!
Spartans kept their heads though and Kristian, a threat all day with his strike running, soon provided the reply, power housing his way through the defence to add another score for Spartans. James saw home the conversion.
The home team realised Spartans were a force to be reckoned with. We hit some mercurial form and Trampy soon strode over and touched the ball down between te posts. Nobody was in any doubt that the pack had earned their beers today.
Even the old school got in the act with Jeffs showing his twinkle toes of yesteryear and very nearly putting JJ through.
It wasn’t all fun and games though, Ken suffered a nasty ankle injury, which led to a long break in play. Spartans lost a bit of focus. This wasn’t helped after the restart as George pulled up with an injury, another valuable pack member gone.
Spartans nerves were jangling slightly as the full time whistle bore down, a long break and two injures leading to an emboldened BOE to get in our faces, this not being helped by a sliced kick leading to possession being handed over them with a line out just over the halfway line.
Thankfully Spartans stood firm and saw the game out, a tough battle with a few bloodied and bruised bodies. On we march to the next round, another impressive win against a tough opposition under our belt.
1. Ollie. 2. C-Mike, 3. Newey, 4.Tramp, 5.George Flatman, 6. Banner, 7. Ken, 8. Kristian, 9. Tom R, 10. James G, 11. Jacko, 12. Dan Hamblin, 13. Callum, 14. James Jeffs, 15. Arlind, 16. JJ, 17. Bart, 18. Ben Southerst, 19. Colm
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