|Hull Roundheads RUFC||29|
Saturday 26th, the Roundheads made an early start to the day knowing that they would be making the arduous trip to Preston Grasshoppers, Home of the Preston Typhoons, with the sun shining brightly and very few clouds in the sky the Roundheads departed from Hull ready for a two and a half hour journey which would result in their arrival at 11:00.
Due to a communications error, the Roundheads arrived at 11:00 to find the Typhoons already warming up on the pitch ready for the 11:30 kick-off. After an incredibly swift delegation of the kit, the Roundheads entered the pitch with roughly 10 minutes to spare before kick-off – barely enough time to get a feel for the uncommon ground and its 3G pitch.
The Roundheads lost the coin flip, so they were attacking first and heading into the glare of the sun. Preston Typhoons were clearly tactical in their decision as they lofted the ball high into the sky, making it difficult for the Roundheads to deal with. As the ball bounced and was collected, the Typhoons were already rushing up the field to make devastating contact in each tackle. The Roundheads were doing their best to make inroads into the Typhoons defence to no avail, particularly after a freak injury to forward Joshua “Jeff” Edwards (later revealed to be a double fracture and dislocated ankle). The powerhouse forward has been a force to contend with in the Roundheads during his debut season and will be a huge loss.
Forwards Adam McCloud, George Street and Sean Wright pushed on and looked threatening until the enthused Typhoons reclaimed possession at the ruck with some clever counter ruck play.
After the turnover the Typhoons continued to lay on the pressure with aggressive runs from the pack which sucked in the Roundheads defence and created space for the speedy Typhoons fullback to round the defence on the left wing to touch down for the first time after just a few minutes allowing the team to collect their thoughts and prepare to go again.
Typhoons 7 – 0 Roundheads
Captain Ben Turnham lifted spirits and encouraged the Roundheads to fight on as we knew we could fight out way back into the game.
Unfortunately, this was not the case as Preston soon used fast hands to once again create space for the quickster fullback to cross the try line in an almost exact replica of the first try.
Typhoons 14 – 0 Roundheads
Shellshocked, the Roundheads emerged back onto the field and still struggled to find a foothold in the physical contest. The Roundheads continued to struggle against the onslaught, but managed to force a lineout. Jose Tevar had his work cut out for him against a well drilled and fully warmed up Typhoons team, yet managed to hold his own against the opposition with both teams’ lineouts being contested fiercely and anybody’s to receive. On this occasion, the ball was patted backward from Tevar but went to ground. Quick and fearless reactions from vice-captain Chris Pollard meant he was first to dive onto the loose ball and control the game before the Typhoons could collect and exploit the advantage. Captain Turnham motivated the troops, marshalling the forwards around the pitch and his communication to the backs to set up the next plays, providing excellent passes to give them the best possible chance to win the collision.
Bruised bodies and bloodied egos from the opening exchanges did nothing to improve the Roundheads position in the game as the Typhoons once again created space on the wing for the fullback to complete his hattrick. Things were looking bleak; the saving grace was the missed conversion attempt.
Typhoons 19 – 0 Roundheads
The Roundheads thought they had found a way to tip the scales back in their favour when Jack Finney placed a nice grubber kick through the Preston line for Nathan Dervey to chase, however, there was a little too much on the kick and the defence got their first and dealt with the danger. Further insult to injury was dealt when forward Joe Galloway was removed from play after a heavy hit from the Typhoons. The Roundheads had no more substitutes available. Against the odds, the Roundheads asked if the Typhoons were willing to drop to 14 vs 14 to even the competition once more, yet they were informed by the referee that they could continue to play legally with a +1 player advantage and elected to do so. The competition continued on 15 vs 14 for the final 10 minutes of the half.
Continued bravery from the Roundheads, particularly forwards Chris Pollard, Jamie Walmsley, George Street, Jose Tevar and Steven Dumont who continued to take the ball from Turnham and drive the fight to the Typhoons despite the odds being against us.
Once more, the Roundheads lined up to kick off into the offensive brightness of the morning sun. The Roundheads finally seemed to adapt to the threat of the fullback running around the back to create the overlap and managed to prevent any further damage, though this simply provoked the damage to travel down the centre of the pitch with the destructive runs from Typhoons forwards.
George Street, Sean Wright and Adam McCloud really stamped their mark on the game with strong defence and laying the platform for the Roundheads to work their way back into the game which looked promising with the constant threat of Ben Turnham and Jack Finney pulling the strings. Five minutes later, a further casualty came in the form of utility back Jack Finney who left the field with a dislocated finger. By this time, Dan Harraway had recovered from an earlier knock and returned to the game to keep the Typhoons advantage at only one extra player.
Tackle after tackle the Roundheads committed several players into contact to halt the assault, eventually holding up an attacker close to our try line. Quick thinking from the Typhoons created a maul, something that the Roundheads had barely experienced and never worked during training due to the lack of a dedicated forwards coach. This set the stage for the Typhoons to once again cross the try line near to the posts as the whistle for half time followed not too long after.
Half time: Typhoons 26 – 0 Roundheads
The Roundheads gathered in the small slither of shade which the dugout and spectator stand provided, desperate to escape the heat and blinding sunlight. It was here that on captaincy debut Ben Turnham began dictating the changes to counteract the Typhoons game plan. With the new game plan laid out, substitutions were made, selflessly removing himself from the game to focus on making the necessary changes to compete. This allowed vice-captain Chris Pollard to take the reins on what would also be his captaincy debut.
Both captains said their respective piece, with the dominant theme being teamwork, fun and inclusivity. We play together, regardless of win/lose/draw, we do it together and we have fun doing it.
At 26-0, a comeback would be one hell of a task and all-too-easy to lose our composure, but the Roundheads remained optimistic and supportive.
A quick rallying cry before returning to the pitch, as “3…2…1… ROUNDHEADS” shook the stands, you felt something electrifying was coming…
With the sun now on our backs, the weather had shifted somewhat as some light cloud rolled in, granting the Typhoons some slight reprieve from the sun-based obstacles we faced in the first half.
A renewed sense of vigour seemed to carry the Roundheads into the collision. Smarter play, swifter hands and stronger hits seemed to get the Roundheads on the front foot. Sharp play from Lloyd Wilkinson-Cunningham exploited some tired Typhoon defence on the right-hand side as he darted over alongside the ruck as a statement of intent for the second half, proving we would not go down without a fight. A glimmer of hope for the Roundheads who would not succumb to nil.
Regular kickers absent, Harraway missed the conversion.
Typhoons 26 – 5 Roundheads
The Roundheads broke down the left edge, through Harraway, but the pass was poor to Nathan Dervey, allowing the Typhoons to reclaim the ball and alleviate some of the mounted pressure. However, the tireless ruck work and bone rattling tackles from George Street, David Pawson, Jose Tevar and Steven Dumont quickly allowed the Roundheads to regain possession and continue contesting the game. to
Minutes later, exciting play from the Roundheads, right to left, the ball from Wilkinson-Cunningham to Steven Dumont and his forward pod drew in the defence which created space for a Harraway support line. The pass from Dumont to Harraway was on the money, sending him slicing through the Preston defence at 22m with just the fullback to beat, fending the fullback and diving in under the sticks.
The referee unable to stop the clock due to a game immediately after the final whistle, the kick was lined up quickly and knocked over by Harraway.
Typhoons 26 – 12 Roundheads
The floodgates now opened, the Typhoons were unable to stem the tide of Roundheads dominance, assisted by the return of Galloway, giving the Roundheads a full complement of 15 vs 15 once more with 20 minutes remaining. Galloway made his presence felt with an outrageous fend on the powerful Typhoons number ten, knocking the fly half onto the deck and ensuring he was not present to clear out at the upcoming ruck. Lineouts from Jamie Walmsley were consistently impressive despite the Typhoons reading these well, but not only did he shine here, his determination and power in the forward pods continued to help drive the team up the pitch where we knew we could do damage. More exciting play from Wilkinson-Cunningham as he rushed the opposition scrum half to force a poor pass which sent the ball to ground. A kick through and recollected by Wilkinson-Cunningham allowed him to control the scrambling Typhoons defence by firing through forward pod after forward pod. The backs lined up right, drawing the attention of the Typhoons defence, but a call came from the left from forward Adam McCloud. The pass was picked by Wilkinson-Cunningham, sending the forward crashing through two defenders on the left-hand side of the pitch to score the Roundheads third try.
With Harraway off the pitch, kicking duties fell to Wilkinson-Cunningham whose attempt faded left of the post.
Typhoons 26 – 17 Roundheads
Tensions had begun to run high within the Typhoons squad as they seemed to capitulate under further sustained pressure. The Roundheads could smell blood and were determined to fight until the end. Forward Sean Wright committed multiple defenders, ran his blood to water and made some incredible runs which busted the Typhoons defence into disarray, setting the stage for the Roundheads to capitalise with more powerful runs from captain Pollard, Walmsley, Pawson, Galloway and the nimble step and agility of Tevar to exploit this chaos. The game really seemed to pick up the intensity when Liam Spivey joined the field, after a successful stint as linesman (or we seemed to think so!) where he injected himself into the game and became a real nuisance to the Typhoons when he was working around the ruck. Wreaking havoc with the Typhoons defence, Nathan Allen constantly attracting a stream of defenders with his strong hand off and pace provided space for debutant Michael Mann, Nathan Dervey and Toby Roper to make some strong carries, but also saw them doing some excellent work around the ruck when their teammates were tackled. Safe hands and fearless defence ensured that the ball was retained and the Typhoons would no longer be able to chance their arm out wide.
The Roundheads continued to hit the Typhoons with an intensity they could no longer contend with as fitness levels really began to show. Pod after pod of Roundhead forwards marched us up the pitch, interspersed with some incredibly strong carries from the backs, whose footwork and agility continued to be a thorn for the Typhoons. A crash ball from Wilkinson-Cunningham to David Pawson, who committed two defenders in the process, saw an offload to Harraway running from left to right. Hard work from Pawson created the space for Harraway to fend the isolated defender and reach for the line, scoring his second of the game.
With the game able to swing either way at this point, Harraways third conversion attempt was messy, but a success nonetheless.
Typhoons 26 – 24 Roundheads
Composure was paramount at this stage, but the Roundheads knew that. We needed to keep the ball to work to our plan, and that’s exactly what we did. With solid runs from Mann and Roper, but complementing each others work with good hands and being there to immediately ruck over to ensure we kept possession, the composure and bravery shown with this well-rounded display truly settled the team and allowed the forwards to have a well-deserved few seconds of rest before the penultimate plays.
Talks amongst the Roundheads on the halfway line discussed a drop goal attempt, but with no dedicated drop goal kicker it was a last-ditch option. Due to our dominance in the second half, we had the Typhoons on the ropes, so elected to continue in the same vein which had pulled us back into the game – we trusted our abilities, but kept our drop goal attempt option open.
Roundheads pushed through the Typhoons defence and the option of the drop goal was there from 22m out, but deemed too risky amongst the playmakers, Harraway called for the ball to the backs on the right hand side, Wilkinson-Cunningham ran the ball from the ruck, with options lines from Nathan Allen, Michael Mann and Toby Roper respectively, each committing opposition defenders allowing Wilkinson-Cunningham to straighten up on the right wing with several options inside with a Typhoons defender in front and behind him. The call from Harraway on the inside allowed him to thread the needle, passing the ball between the two defenders and sending Harraway over the line unchallenged from 5m out. The referee blew the whistle to give the try on the stroke of full time.
The Roundheads stole the game in the dying seconds, yet Harraway missed the conversion from far out on the right edge.
Full time: Typhoons 26 – 29 Roundheads.
Truly the very definition of a game of two halves.
Cheers and congratulations rang around the Roundheads squad as we were rushed from the pitch to make way for the teams in the next game could warm up.
Drinks were had in the club house along with conversations between players before the player of the match was presented, with a very generous gift from Nowt Poncy, who kindly donated a token of their business to the stand out players.
It was with disappointment that not all of the Roundheads could stay at the club for longer to socialise with the opposition as they had elected to begin travelling back to Hull to attend a local hospital before traffic had worsened after an incident on the motorway could cause too much delay and disruption.
We would also like to thank the Preston Typhoons for our most physical and competitive game so far, our thanks to their medical team who were on hand to help with the Roundheads casualties and also for the Typhoons/Grasshoppers hospitality on what was an incredibly enjoyable day.
The Roundheads would also like to congratulate and thank our players for putting their bodies on the line in an incredibly intense and physical game, and wish our injured players a very speedy recovery.