21 Oct 2007 – YCAC Gents vs Shinjuku Jacks | YCAC 1sts vs Doronko

YCAC Gents 31, Shinjuku Jacks 29 (HT 5-24), YCAC 1sts 72, Doronko 12 (HT 39-7)

Match Reports – Steve Lewis

GENTS vs SHINJUKU JACKS

Tries: Andy Lubbe, Chris Muirhead, Willy Lapthorn, Matt Dimond (2)
Cons: Matt Dimond (3)

Putting the RWC Final to shame, this was a game worthy of a worldwide audience of millions. An exhilarating match, a returning hero and an exciting finale which saw the courageous YCAC juggernaut win with a try in the last minute.

The returning hero was Mike “Bad Boy” Brooke whose collosal performance at tight head prop was critical in four of YCAC’s five tries. Before kick-off, Brookie kept his team-mates on tenterhooks by turning up just before kick-off. But who can blame him for being late? It must take a long time to decide whether you will be driving down to YCAC in your Ferrari, your Porche or your Bentley…

Fielding five new players, the first half was always going to be a little disorganised. And with some players not having played in a while, a few mental cobwebs needed to be brushed away. But it doesn’t help when a chap who hasn’t played for five years says that his position is “Number 8”, and then spends the first ten minutes shadowing Masa because he forgot that the scrum half was Number 9 as opposed to Number 8.

Having watched the oval shaped tennis that ruined the RWC Final, some of our new backs decided that they too would kick long, only to discover that the major strength of a Japanese team is to run the ball back at the oppo. Consequently, Shinjuku Jacks scored four tries before half time to lead 5-24. YCAC’s only score came from the aforementioned “Number 8” who unsurprisingly turned up in the scrum half position at just the right time.

The second half was classic “up the jumper” YCAC scrum power interspersed with disco rugby from a talented back division, with dazzling performances from Willy “I’ve Still Got a Full Head of Hair, Uncle” Lapthorn, Michael “I’m An Aussie, So I Cheat For the Fun of It” Griffith, “Cavier Ken” Noguchi and Jim “Daddy Long Legs” Brooks. A special mention should also go to Arnaud “Flying Frenchman” Terrien who spent most of the 1st Team game teaching his cheerleader girlfriend how to be lifted in the line out. Is there no end to the bedroom perversions of our French cousins?

The YCAC scrum took complete control in the second half and ground the Shinjuku Jacks’ front row into the turf. The poor little lads must be suffering this morning following scrum after scrum against the YCAC front row which averaged 20 stone per man. Tries followed for Chris Muirhead, Willy Lapthorn and Matt Dimon with Matt converting his own try in the last minute to cap a wonderful come-back win for the YCAC Gents.

1ST vs DRONKO
Tries: Willy Lapthorn, Joe Fisher (2), Matt Creagh (2), Dougal (3), Epps, Jim Brooks, Dom, Ben Duncan
Cons: Ben Duncan (4), Matt Creagh (2)

If the Gents match was worthy of the RWC Final, the 1sts match was reminiscent more of one of the early pool games – a bit of a mismatch.

When the All Blacks started with a hiss and a roar against Italy in their opening match of the RWC, Wayne Smith “likened it to 15 cans of Coke, all fizzed up and opened at the same time”. Such a simile would not be out of place in describing the 1sts start against Doronko, with beautiful handling resulting in an opening burst where Willy Lapthorn, Joe Fisher, Matt Creagh, and Dougal Robertson all dotted down in the first 20 minutes.

Perhaps part of the reason for this strong start was the fact that there was a fair amount of continuity in the squad with only two players, Steve Marcon and Sam Heinrich, in the starting line-up who had not previously played for the club. (Willy Lapthorn and James Brooks were already considered veterans after their epic performances in the Gents match.)

After such a good opening 20 minutes the question was whether the team could keep that standard for the full match. The answer came soon enough – they couldn’t. (Perhaps that should have been 15 cans on Diet Coke.) However, unfortunately for Doronko, the 1sts were able to keep their standards high enough to effectively never let the opposition into the match. YCAC totally dominated the set pieces with the burly front-row, led by Erich Friess (Welcome back Freezer), able to shunt the opposition around at will and the mere sight of Steve Marcon and Sias Potgieter being enough to disrupt any line-out. (Including our own line-out unfortunately, with this facet of the game being a bit of a messy affair all around.)

Given a good platform to work off, the backs looked very dangerous. This was especially true of the ‘old firm’ of Robertson, Duncan and Creagh who picked up where they left off last season, scoring six tries between the three of them. Ben Duncan even managed to reduce one opponent to a moaning mess through a massive hit in a maul – the forwards were well impressed to see this kind of violence from their No. 10!

Perhaps the only dampener on the day was Sias Potgieter’s running ‘debates’ with the referee. You’d think on this day, out of any, Sias would have been in a jovial mood. However, just before half-time the big South African opened up a dialogue with the diminutive Korean referee about when, exactly, you were allowed to smash your slightly less diminutive Japanese opponent. The New Zealand captain tried to step in and play mediator but wasn’t getting much change from either party. It was all very international. As always though, the man to bet on is the one with the whistle and that was the way it played out on the day. Still, you have to admire Sias’ persistence – various team-mates heard him continue the discussion with the referee after the final whistle, in the changing rooms, at the bar, as the ref was trying to leave in his car. Let’s hope Sias doesn’t know where the guy lives.

Law interpretations aside, the dominant memory of the game will be of a good opening to the season for the 1sts. Tougher tests will definitely be on the way, but this was definitely a good start

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