Two errors in the first half of this National League Two North fixture left, on the road again, Broadstreet a second half mountain to climb and although they made an heroic effort to overhaul Luctonians RFC’s 24 – 8 halftime lead, a late penalty try cruelly took away the chance of a win or of losing bonus points at blustery Mortimer Park in deepest Herefordshire.
Ben Cooper cancelled out at the start of the second quarter, 10 – 3. From the restart left wing Ashley Elvers made good ground only for his inside pass to be knocked on, ending an opportunity to build pressure. ‘Street again transgressed at their own ten metre line and from the penalty line out, the hosts kicked dead to cancel the threat. ‘Street kicked deep into home territory and Luctonians conceded a penalty at the ensuing ruck. From the penalty lineout number 8 Jack Gibbons shot through for a try following a patient build up by his fellow forwards. Cooper was unable to convert, 10 – 8. The last ten minutes of the half proved a nightmare for the visitors as Luctonians capitalised on ‘Street’s carelessness in scoring two well taken converted tries; the first by Langdon, as a close-in attack by ‘Street saw the ball go to ground from a wayward pass and then hacked 80 metres where the home side picking up the bounce for a gifted score. The second gift came from a two versus one blindside break which was two soft for words, which, given the amount of fruitless possession in a half riddled with penalties, gave Luctonians a somewhat flattering, 24 – 8 lead at the break. For the first quarter the visitors could do no right as they were constantly conceded penalties whilst on the offensive. After five minutes played a couple of penalties set up a lineout close to the ‘Street line which resulted in Burton diving over at the opposite corner and, with Luctonian’s man-of-the match Geraint Langdon landing the difficult conversion, the hosts took a 7 – 0 lead. Langdon added a penalty goal seven minutes later which ‘Street’s
Jack Gibbons eventually glided through for a converted try for 24 – 15 and 25 minutes to play. Cooper worked the corners well thereafter and the pressure saw Luctonian’s number 8 yellow carded for ‘killing’ play close to his line. At a following scrum the referee awarded a penalty try as the retreating home pack front row offended, 24 - 22. Luctonians recovered their kick off and made ground down the left flank whereupon ‘Street were penalised at the tackle. Luctonians took a scrum and from a free kick award to the home pack, Beau Carney was yellow carded for not being back 10 metres. Only five metres out, Luctonians opted again to scrummage and as the scrum wheeled at the first setting, the referee again deemed a penalty try to be the appropriate punishment – well at least this was some sort of consistency in awarding penalty tries from scrums, with one apiece on the day! With the conversion, Luctonians moved to 31 – 22 with just minutes to go. As the final whistle loomed, Luctonians attacked from the restart but on regaining possession ‘Street tried to run the ball from deep in the shadow of the posts only to pass forwards and at the last scrum of the match Luctonian’s errant number 8 offended again and was yellow/red carded. Running out of defence again in a desperate attempt to salvage two points, ‘Street made the home half, only to knock on and bring the game to an inglorious end. Luctonians started strongly with some sustained phase play but ‘Street defended equally well to prevent further scoring. The visitors then put together a sustained assault earning them a five metre scrum from which
In the final analysis, one cannot indulge in such generosity, but, maybe too tense ‘Street – trying too hard. Loosen up and just ‘play rugby’ – you are all well capable of doing so!
Final Score: Luctonians 31 Broadstreet 22.
Squad: Andy Murray; Jeff Gregson, James Otutaha, Luke Myring, Ashley Elvers; Ben Cooper, Pierre Ferre; Jake Dodd, Stewart Pearl, Joe Foreman; Aaron Crofts, Matthew Solomon; Dan Martin, Jamie Harrop, Jack Gibbons. Ben Nuttall, Callum Tucker, Beau Carney, Chris Wood, Nathan Tilsley.
Thought for the Game:
Do I detect that there is a pattern evolving where referees award penalty tries from first set close in scrums. If so, this indicates that there is a clinical determination that a side stood up and was not pushed up and that the defence deliberately wheeled a scrum and not the attacking side. Given circa one hundred years of the nefarious shenanigans of front row unions and the prevailing mystification of who did what, it seems the answer is to remove all the guess work from decision making by awarding a penalty try to the attacking side, even though it may not always be clear who did what and that a try would have been scored, if they had not done what they were adjudged to have done!
It is too cerebral for me - one for the Thought Police maybe?