De La Salle (62) v Hawcoat Park (14)
Saturday 8th April, 2017
Playing the game with only 14 men is becoming a bit of a habit as the season draws to a close. Last week it was for 70 minutes of the game, this week the full game. Already decimated with the majority of the first team squad attending a wedding, one of the lads got caught up in the train strike problems trying to attend and did not show.
De La Salle are a strong well organised team with powerful pacey three quarters and pushing for promotion on a perfect sunny day for playing expansive rugby were clearly not going to take this game lightly which makes the performance from the patched up maroon and whites even better, to a man, the 14 lads could not have shown any more commitment and their efforts in difficult circumstances were magnificent and well appreciated by the travelling committee and supporters.
We started the game well the hard working front three of props John Donnan and Paul Woodburn and hooker Andy Kent took it in turns to take the ball up into contact and through good ball retention we made slow but sure ground going through the phases. All three of these lads were to put in a full 80 minutes of graft at the coal face where the action is tough and their efforts were well appreciated by their team mates.
De La Salle play good open rugby and as they upped their game looking to move the ball out wide and make use of the extra man our defence had to work very hard, Rory Sayle was doing a great shift up front and backs Dan Vial playing his first game for some time and winger Rodney Odondi and full back Will Coles all tackled well.
Eventually all the Della pressure told and their talisman strong running No 8 forced his way over 15 minutes into the half. Soon after good hands stretched the play out wide for their impressive centre to touch down, 10 – 0.
With fly half George Smith pulling the strings and centre Dan Vial always running strong we had some good spells of play. However, the next Della try showed their class. A training ground move worked perfectly as the ball was moved out wide their long striding full back came onto the ball at pace to burst over under the posts for a converted try, 17 – 0.
Captain Will Mallinson was inspiring his troops and his efforts and some good play by Odondi and George Smith got us into the Della 22 for a spell of pressure.
Grady Slater was having an outstanding game both in attack and defence. It was difficult to describe the position he was playing after taking it upon himself to make up the shortage by playing both back row and then getting across to be a centre as well. He made hard yards every time he had the ball and deservedly forced his way over after a quickly taken tap penalty. George Smith added a great conversion, 17 – 7.
As half time approached there was the time for Della to stretch their lead again good handling allowed the ball to be stretched out wide and for their winger to finish well despite the tremendous cover tackling from Kent and Odondi. Their good kicking second row added a good conversion, half time 24 – 7.
The second half was always going to be touch Della could make good use of their three replacements and as we naturally became fatigued in the increasing heat of a glorious day. Anthony Munday normally a scrum half but helping out of position in the back row and young Joe Rea playing only his second first team game grafted hard all game and tackled above their weight.
As to be expected five further trys followed at regular intervals a mix of strong running from forwards and backs alike, 55 – 7.
That never say die attitude we had shown all game was rewarded with a second try. Dan Vial who had damaged his shoulder making a crunching tackle but stayed on the pitch, made a really strong run both beating and carrying would be tacklers into the heart of the defence and Smith carried on the good work forcing way his way over under the posts. He added his own conversion 55 – 14.
Before the final whistle there was just the time for Della to score one more converted try. Final score 62 – 14.
The score line of course is a heavy defeat but this in no way reflects the commitment of all the 14 lads who travelling for this touch assignment in Salford. Each and every one of them can be very proud of their efforts. In a workmanlike team performance a special mention for Grady Slater home from university but having his best game in a maroon and white shirt and showing what we are missing whilst he trains to be a doctor in Glasgow. Also Dan Vial who put his hand up to play and showed up well in attack and defence.
Also to the front three forwards but in particular Paul Woodburn who always steps up to play first team whenever asked and each and every time could not do any more for his team mates.
As always Pat and all the Della lads were very hospitable and we wish them all the best in the play off game as they look to gain promotion.