|Hull Roundheads RUFC||64|
Clouds were rolling across the picturesque peaks that surrounded Sheffield’s home ground as the Roundheads arrived. Fresh was the word of the day and the wind was cool in the sun, chilly in the shade: perfect weather for rugby.
After a two-minute silence for World AIDS Day, a significant day, and one it is important to honour, respect and remember. The match began.
The Vulcans were kicking to the Roundheads. With the sun against them, the team from Hull prepared to receive the ball. In a perfect arc, the Roundheads watched the ball rise into the golden air, until it disappeared in blazing sunlight, only to fall into the waiting arms of the Roundheads forwards who were keen to prove a point early on. After just a few strong drives from the likes of Jamie Walmsley, Chris Pollard and Jose Tevar, the platform was set for an exciting piece of backs play which saw the ball travel from the far left of the pitch over to the far right into the eager hands of Connor Coates, allowing him to race down the right edge, scoring a try on his club debut.
With the early try, the Roundheads seemed to find their footing, their confidence seemed to soar and the threat of wind and sun, that seemed to support Sheffield that Saturday, was soon dismissed. The Roundheads were dominating the ball, the forwards charging into the Sheffield line with real intent which resulted in several half breaks and creating some scintillating offloads allowing Lloyd Cunningham-Wilkinson to fend off one or two defenders and place the ball down over the Vulcans line just to the right of the sticks.
A moment of concern arose when new forward Dan Whitt was left on the floor, after a strong run caused him to be tackled in an awkward position, requiring medical attention. Fortunately, he was able to walk from the pitch and in a beautiful display of gamesmanship and spirit of the IGR, he was clapped off by both teams. Much to the relief of the Roundheads, the new-found powerhouse was able to return to the pitch in the latter stages to stamp his mark on the game with more dominating runs and bruising tackles.
The game was now firmly in the hands of the Roundheads, who were clearly tasting blood in the water. Powerful drives from the forwards regularly convincing the Vulcans defence to condense, which created lots of room for the backs to flourish. Some truly barnstorming runs from Steven Dumont scattering Sheffield defenders in his wake, created opportunities to cross the line himself on two occasions, whilst also providing the final pass for Dan Harraway to score under the sticks.
Lineouts being dominated by the skills of J. Tevar in the air, do not go without recognition to the superb throws by J. Walmsley and Joe Galloway and the lifting power and stability of S. Dumont and C. Pollard allowing the Roundheads to retain possession and tighten the screw from every single lineout as the Vulcans simply had no retort to the sheer quality on display.
A further try materialised for former flanker Ben Thrustle, also on his debut, when a cleverly worked Roundheads scrum used the intimidating presence of S. Dumont to commit multiple defenders on the open side of play. A flash of genius from Ben Turnham made the call for Harraway to sweep from open side to blind side with B. Thrustle, leaving the Vulcans winger like a dear in the headlights as the 2 on 1 loomed over him. A delicate pass before the winger allowed B. Thrustle to touch down on the left wing as his first contribution of the game.
Credit to the Sheffield Vulcans, they were struggling to stem the tide, but exhibited an inspiring “never give up” attitude which eventually paid off into the second half when, from a well worked scrum, they powered over the Roundheads line from close range, with defenders hanging on and putting their bodies on the line, the Vulcans found a way to ground the ball and open their tally for the day.
Unfortunately for the Vulcans, it would be their last as more devastating forward pods barrelled through the line through Captain Ian Farrugia or finely supported by him, which ultimately resulted in the Captain gaining his hat-trick for the day.
For some players, consistency and reliability were the telling tales of class, with the likes of fullback Jack Finney and number 8, Josh Edwards, always in the correct position to receive an offload, execute a kick, make a tackle or run an excellent supporting line with the fullback also marshalling the red and yellow defence across the pitch. A testament to their efforts and experience, that a strong Sheffield team were only able to breach the solid defence once.
Throughout the day, the Roundheads tested out several goal kickers which proved a mixed result due to the blinding sun beating down on the pitch along with the swirling breeze and sticky mud clinging to boots.
Finally, the referee blew her whistle to indicate full time at 64-7. Both teams applauded one another, and the referee too, for participating in a spectacle of the game before some wonderful hospitality (including some delicious and very generous portions of cake) from the home side in the club house. This was where player of the match, D. Whitt on only his second appearance in red and yellow, was recognised by the Roundheads but struggled to hold his own when it came to downing a pint! Though by this point, all minds were solely focused on the night out ahead.