The early exchanges were evenly matched and OPs sensibly took a penalty when it was offered them. Soon after a scrum gave the visitors an excellent attacking platform, the subsequent squeeze saw the OE tight head prop move out and in on the hooker, I gave a penalty which the OPs took quickly and were soon under the posts as the home side failed to react. The Old Emanuel response was immediate, a lovely weighted kick-off was collected on the 10m line by No7 who slipped one tackle and with two nice side steps was across the line. The fastest try I’ve seen.
It was becoming clear that neither side was keen on keeping quiet and persisted in questioning decisions and trying to referee the game. Both sides were marched back in the first half and OE conceded a full penalty. I certainly, upped my game from last season but it did not fully keep a lid on it.
Another penalty saw OP take a 13-7 lead into the second half, a fair reflection on the advantage they held. OE managed the first score of the second period, fired with a renewed enthusiasm but being on the back foot saw OP up their level of back-chat; even in the middle of mauls they still found time and effort to talk. They may well feel aggrieved if someone is trying to pull down the maul illegally, but if the maul does not come down and continues to move forward, I am not going to stop the game- except to possibly penalise them for dissent. Following the second OE try of the half, a vocal description of my refereeing efforts from the try line, meant that the game restarted with a penalty.
The final OE try came soon after as pile of bodies on the touch line saw a hand dart out to ground the ball. I was in the process of blowing up for a scrum and extended my arm instead. A frantic few minutes saw OE look to extend their lead but in the dying seconds OPs took a fine long range try to steal the honours, the two penalties being the difference between the sided.
In the end it was a scrappy game from two sides capable of playing good rugby, but with a need to keep their mouths shut and not bleat like spoilt little children for the whole game.