Its been a pleasant couple of weeks, hard-fought vets matches. Tough and uncompromising, yes but played with a convivial bonhomie. Last weekend it was a welcome foray into league rugby, OK, its only Surrey 4 but league nevertheless. Haslemere, the home side were playing Old Oundelians, in a top-of-table clash. The game was quicker than recent weeks but there also a step-up in mental edge and I was slow to grasp this.
The players were much more focused on the result and how to effect it. To this end, it was a game with many voices, not necessarily challenging my decisions, but trying to shape my call. Usually, I filter out this noise but it is rarely this pervasive, you become aware that it is you being played, as well as the ball.
The game balanced on the two back-rows, Haslemere had the bigger bullying pack but the open side was too keen on leaving his feet at the breakdown. The Old Oundelian's No7 was simply offside a great deal, but very quick off the mark none the less. Early in the second half, Haslemere dived straight to the ground and killed a promising attack 12 metres out, no question of issuing a yellow card to the captain. Against the run of this things Old Oundelians suddenly were able to run the ball from deep and managed three scores in the 10 minutes they held the numerical advantage. Tempers simmered through the match, with a couple of unpleasant off the ball punch ups, it is frustrating knowing its going on and not catching it. The pace of the game did not afford me the luxury of frequent look-backs as the ball moved away from the breakdown-something I need to work on.
In the end, it was well earned win for the visitors, they controlled the pace and kept the ball from the larger home pack. Not a great performance from your host; on the plus side, I kept up with play effectively but demerits for allowing too much chat and not establishing sufficient authority.
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