|Hull Roundheads RUFC||59|
Looming over Hessle’s home ground, the Humber Bridge stood tall as the sun blazed and the wind blew. The temperature was cool beneath that iconic landmark, and perfect for rugby.
Flying south for the game, the Newcastle Ravens arrived with a depleted flock but came with the intent of causing an upset at the top of the table. Everyone knows that when an animal is wounded and cornered, they are extremely dangerous, and the Ravens were no different. They arrived with a mere ten players, however, the determination to undo the indomitable home of the Roundheads was evident for all to see. In the true spirit of the IGR, several Roundheads offered to take up the plumage of the Ravens to ensure the contest went ahead as scheduled, an uplifting sight to behold.
Whipping across the water and wobbling the posts, the wind was a player of its own. Against this unpredictable foe, the ball was kicked, and the Roundheads began defending their nest like their lives depended on it. Usually a Roundhead, Ben Thrustle, sporting the Raven red, fell foul of a nasty injury in the opening exchanges and was removed from the pitch for hospital attention, however, in the spirit of the IGR, both teams applauded him for his contributions. Despite the blow, the Ravens were not playing like a team who had their wings clipped and continued to throw everything at the Roundheads except the kitchen sink.
In fitting fashion, the man to open the scoring was none other than ex-Raven Ian Farrugia as he forced his way down the right wing and rounded his Roundhead colleague who volunteered to help fill shirts for the Ravens. There was no holding back from these two players, as a strong fend on his usual teammate led to Farrugia touching down between the sticks.
It was not long before the Roundheads continued the scoring with some strong forward play from Steven Dumont, David Pawson, Jamie Walmsley, and Chris Pollard all making the hard meters causing the Ravens to flock together to hold the rampaging forwards at bay. Following on from a lineout set play, the formidable efforts of the aforementioned allowed lots of space for the Roundheads back line to do what they do and exploit the space as a well worked move from Mitchell Skelton drew in the defence before an offload to Harraway with a final pass allowing Ethan Anderson to round the Ravens right side winger untouched.
All one-way traffic so far at Hessle as the Roundheads dominated possession, winning restart after restart. Lineouts were expertly thrown by Joe Galloway and Jamie Walmsley, feeding the ball to Jose Tevar, with almost 100% success rate as usual. a quick tap once again allowed Farrugia to be the cat amongst the pigeons, using his feline dexterity to pass an impressive ball to Mark Bjornson-Sutherland who scored the try to further assert the Roundheads dominance. Bjornson-Sutherland then quickly created his own try by exploiting confusion around the Ruck on the Ravens line and diving over.
Powerful runs from the likes of Adam McCloud, Daniel Whitt, Tevar and Galloway continued to lay the platform for Ben Turnham to distribute the ball consistently effortlessly, leading to a Dumont signature run, bursting through the middle of the pitch with defenders unable to compete with the pace and power, consistently able to create something from nothing and, as usual, completing such a display of talent with a try under the Ravens sticks.
The Ravens hit next through an intelligent run from the inside centre who isolated one Roundheads defender on our own line, allowing him to crash over the line before any other players could assist in the tackle. This did not deter the Roundheads who scored next.
Following an impressive jackal from Toby Roper to regain possession for the red and yellow, solid hard work from Liam Spivey created space for Turnham to deliver the ball to a powerful run from Josh Edwards through the middle of the pitch saw him run 40 yards with not a finger laid on him to score to the left of the posts.
The favour was quickly returned after Roundhead-cum-Ravens Nathan Dervey made some strong carries to get the Ravens on the front foot when Sean Wright (on Roundheads debut, but generously playing for the Ravens) began a sweeping run around the ruck which was fed by Bjornson-Sutherland and decimated the usually resolute Roundheads defence with some impressive footwork to bamboozle those in front of him as he scored his debut try for both the Ravens and the Roundheads.
Wingers Toby Roper, Nathan Dervey, David Eldridge and Harry Bradford all putting their bodies on the line at various stages of the game to repel the Ravens repeated efforts to beat us on the edges. Consistently, our wingers stood up to the challenge with strong and critical tackles forcing the Ravens to try to break our forwards, which is a task not to be envied.
Another Roundheads debutant, Corey Atkinson, was first to react to a Lloyd Wilkinson-Cunningham kick off as the ball bounced before the Ravens. Chasing down the kick with such pace and intensity, Atkinson kicked the ball further down the pitch as the Ravens scrambled to react, but it was too late as Atkinson collected his own kick and touched down on the right wing.
One more try for Anderson born from the hands of Galloway and Edwards, drawing in the Ravens and conjuring space for Anderson for another 40 meter try, making it a brace for the rapid outside center.
Josh Edwards once again caused chaos amongst the Ravens with another strong run down the left wing after being fed the ball by the flawless Ben Turnham continuing to pull the strings like a master puppeteer with just a few minutes remaining. However, it was to be the Ravens who had the last word with two consolation tries run in as benevolent Roundheads Captain Farrugia down the Roundheads left wing for his old team.
Despite the impressive score line, the game was a true battle of grit and determination, and end-to-end spectacle of rugby union. The Roundheads defended their home ground with such intensity that there were definitely some bruised bodies in the club house whilst both teams ate and drank together in true IGR spirit. A raft of Roundheads debutants gained their club ties and valuable experience on the pitch, creating a real showcase of the skills they have to offer: George Street resolute in defence and threatening in attack, a player to watch in the future. David Eldridge making his Roundheads RUFC debut, usually a key member of the Roundheads Touch Rugby team and club chairman, stood up to be counted with some important tackles and impressive runs to finely display the strength in depth that we are currently blessed with at the club. Harry Bradford made some key decisions on the wing during his debut, providing a tough defence on the wing for his first game, if he continues to improve at the rate he currently is then he will be destined to cross the line in no time. Tom Bacchus gave glimpses of his pace, but what he really showed was heart as he continued to play in the forwards line up time and time again, his strength and intent evident for all to see whilst running against the grain, into a big Ravens pack he did not look out of place.
The club mentality of togetherness and inclusivity is something to behold and reminds players just how lucky we are to be part of such a welcoming club. Not only are we teammates, but we are also friends and partners, strengthening the club each and every day as we continue to grow in the right direction.