The visitors, in red, started well with the wind behind them giving good field position and some pacey backs offering good scoring potential. This arrived with a smart looping move into the corner. Their forwards were coming off second best to the home side, and tempers were getting heated, particularly as a couple of Green tackles were a little high, but not deliberate. Green number 8 was a particularly “lively” chap and held some strong opinions on how the game should progress. I made it clear I wanted his temper controlled and mouth shut, that said, I recognised I would have to watch him over my shoulder.
Both sides where managing to play good rugby and things were finally balanced following a Green try. A promising chip through from Red, gave them a good line out position, but I was pleased that from a glace behind at the kicker, I saw Green 8 trip him. I offered Red a penalty at the kick or a line-out where green had carried it out (on the 5m line) – not a penalty but a good use of advantage. Green stole the line out but turned over the ball. They failed to roll away, but I came back for the penalty which Red took quickly and Green failed to pull their defence to cover; try time and complaints from Green. Yes, there were players in front of the kicker but they did not obstruct as was there was no defence. Quick thinking play rewarded.
The second half had started with a few changes and a warning about tempers to both captains. Red pushed hard against the wind and a promising move on Green’s 22m looked to be a certain score, until a fantastic interception from Green 12 saw him race up the field to score and convert. Despite his speed and my ‘size’, I made it to the 22m to award the try!
Red pressed forward again but were pinned back by an amazing 70m touch finder from the new full-back, right on Red’s 5m. The ensuing play saw Green squeezing for a push-over try but the reward was a penalty against the Red front row standing up. The Red loose-head then complained of a sore neck and requested un-contested scrums. As there were no other replacements I had to agree, Green had a great advantage removed and were not happy. Green now held a 15-10 lead and we headed in to the last 10 minutes of the match. Red’s dangerous winger finally got some space and belted down the line; the full-back came across to cover and pulled him into touch by his collar. Penalty try and a yellow card, the score was now 17-15 and things were getting tense.
Green pushed up field and Red held on to the ball in the tackle and conceded the penalty which Green converted, 18-17 with less than 5 mins on the clock. I realised that there was little scope for error on my behalf if I was not going to determine the result. Red pressed into Green’s 22, and Green’s scrum-half (who had been the No8) tried a box kick to clear from a ruck, the ball when up and down landing about 2m in front of were he kicked it. This put his entire pack off side if they choose to play it. Which they did! A penalty under the ‘10m rule’ - my first! Red just had to slot the points from a very kickable position, but they tapped it and two phases later some one dropped it! Green pressed up field and returned to 15 men. There was to be once more play and again Red’s winger steamed up field and it was looking like a final twist. He cleared the full back, but the touch judge (a Green player) signalled a foot on the line. I was happy that it probably was and blew for full time.
A great game, with drama and some fantastic play, the tension and passion bubbled under the whole match but I kept a lid on things. The assessors comments from last time helped, with fewer penalties but I still need to cut chat and I don’t think the scrums were well-enough managed.