Tuesday 14 October 2008

Out in the wilds

A relatively long journey out to Farnham this week for merit league match involving, possibly, the most geographically disparate teams in the Surrey leagues, Farnham and Battersea Ironsides. Luckily, I'd managed to remember all my kit first time out this time. Another bright sunny day and unseasonally warm, such that I arrived to find the visitors training in the shade!
It was soon evident that the home side were a better drilled lot (it turned out the Ironside had a lost a number of players to their 1st XV) but the defence from both sides was strong. The first major incident of the match involved your hero on the deck himself. Black were moving forward and the player was well tackled by Green, the tackler's momentum saw his body swing around into my knee. There was a sharp pain and I dropped to the floor in some discomfort. I did manage to blow up to stop play whilst I received some magic sponge treatment. Luckily there was no lasting damage and play restarted with a Black scrum.
Next up, it was time to demonstrate to players why they know the laws a good deal less well than they think! Green are awarded a penalty (one of too many for offside) and kicked for the corner, they miss and the Black winger catches and calls Mark! Only a handful of Green realise that there can be no mark from a penalty, as I cry play-on. Some how the ball is scrambled into in-goal and grounded by Black for a scrum.
We were well into the first half before anyone scored, sustained pressure from Farnham saw Ironsides scoop the ball back whilst lying on the floor 3m out in front of the posts. I had no hesitation in issuing a yellow card and in retrospect it should have been a penalty try. However, the general good nature of the side probably give them the benefit of the doubt and I choose to stick with the penalty. Quick ball out wide and a converted try meant that at least justice was done.
The second half was fractious affair, the penalty count mounted and back-chat started. The break down became very untidy with players off their feet and on the wrong side. The penalty count for offside became very high as neither side gained momentum. I think I allowed good advantage but it still spoilt what could have been a good game.
Feed back from the captains was generally positive with the winning, Farnham, captain happier than Ironsides. Generally pointers were that I allowed the chat to go on too long, they would have preferred I clamped down earlier and harder - good to know! The other was that the scrummage penalties were over harsh and disruptive. The visitors were hugely out gunned upfront and I was close to calling a cessation of hostilities. Following on from the referee training a couple of weeks ago, I was more confident that I had spotted more dirty tricks and indeed the captain implied that I was unsympathetic due to refereeing higher level games. If only he knew!
An enjoyable afternoon, if scrappy game, Farnham the deserving winners at 18-3.

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