On a cool April evening LRFC assembled at Rosslyn Park Rugby Club for their final game of the 10-11 season. With the smell of the semi-final defeat still lingering in the nostrils it was fair say that a repeat of that result would simply not be an option this time around. Shorn of some of the seasons regulars lost to injury (or the Besso cocktail party) the LRFC team sheet was a patch work quilt of established talent, youthful enthusiasm and some good old fashioned dogged determination. After dozens of chasing emails and the cashing in of several personal favours a match day 21 took to the park for the 7:30 kick off
After an uncharacteristically loose and superficial warm up Lloyd’s kicked of towards the club house into a tender North Westerly breeze. Wine Trade, having bought their strongest squad and performed an intense warm up, started the game well with their pack dominating the early break downs. It appears that Lloyd’s had underestimated their opposition in this area and struggled with the early tempo. With the scrum troubled in the early exchanges and the Wine Trade big runners making more ground than they deserved, Lloyd’s found themselves under pressure from both the Wine Trades appetite at the breakdown, but also the referees whistle. After a successive scrums deep in the Lloyd’s 22, Wine Trade opened the scoring, crashing over after some weak 2nd phase tackling in the backs. Conversion added 0-7.
This was all the incentive that Lloyd’s need and with a little under 10 mins played, Lloyd’s were now in the game and up to speed with the game. With some wise words from the skipper under the sticks and a collective consciousness of “must do better” Lloyd’s hurled themselves into the game from the restart. Aggressive tackling as ever from Tom “The Widowmaker” Wagstaff, typical ball snaffling from Chris “Gimme More” Moore and clinical distribution from Messer’s Jackson and Hayward ensured that Lloyd’s soon nullified the Wine Trade Threat and Lloyd’s began to exert some pressure going forward. After several quick phases the inevitable holes began to appear and through one of these Hayward fed an inside ball to Moore who offloaded beautifully from the tackle to release House into space. Using his admirable gym strength Wendy wrestled his way to the line giving Hayward an easy conversion and Lloyd’s were back on level terms.
From this point Lloyd’s had their tales up and were beginning to find their rhythm. The scrum settled and remained solid. Complete dominance in the line out was established by the imperious Cockerton. Wagstaff, Gary “The Hitman” Holmes, Uprichard and Moore continued smash the now ineffectually loose head thug that Wine Trade had selected and the back line began to hum. It wasn’t long before Lloyd’s turned all this good work into points with a neat move down the blind side with Jackson pulling the strings releasing Joyce to run as beautiful line all the way in. Conversion added 14-7.
As expected Wine Trade came out strong, confident that they were still in the game and Lloyd’s did not take the threat lightly. Powerful rucking from the fresh legs of Danny Parkinson and the continued ferocity of Wagstaff ensured a torrid time for the Wine Trade scrum half, who dealt with ball going backwards most of the night. This advantage was immediately pressed home as Cockerton broke free from another tidy line out win and opened up over 20 metres before off loading to Walsh supporting perfectly on his shoulder. Not quite having the gas to make it to the line, Walsh had the presence of mind to stay strong and look for support which arrived in the shape of a galloping Danny Parkinson who lined up the opposition scrum half and made his considerable size advantage count as he carried the tackler over the line with him. Conversion added 21-7.
That score seemed to defuse the Wine Trade fight back and Lloyd’s were now in control, however, some sparks of ingenuity and passion from the Wine Trade back line did keep the Lloyd’s on its toes and stout defending from both wings, Messer’s Copping and Henderson, was required to ensure that any threat was snuffed out. As Lloyd’s continued to press and the game began to open up, more and more opportunities were created. Fresh legs from the bench meant that the Lloyd’s back line continued to alternate through the positions and Tim Jacobs got to play back row again as he had specifically requested following the JPM game. Piers Sargent ensured that the Lloyd’s scrum remained unmoved.
Not happy with just 3 scores on the board Lloyd’s went looking for more and soon a further tries from first Moore and then Wagstaff were added. Fitting reward for 2 players that not only turned in a great performance in this game, but have been key to the success of the team over the entire season along with Al Cockerton, who by now was simply showing off in the line out. Cockers’ dominance was such that Wine Trade elected to throw to the back causing a mistake that Moore pounced on like hungry raccoon, plopping over from 5 yards out. After the restart, Wags was on hand to finish off a fine move which saw impressive offloads from both Pound and Jacobs to send him over again from 5 yards out. Conversions missed. 31-7.
Taking their foot of the gas for just a few minutes, Lloyd’s allowed Wine Trade back into the game and it was their backs that produced a spirited and well executed riposte with the right wing sneaking over the line after some slick handling and offloads. Conversion added 31-14.
Spurred on by this slip up, Lloyd’s again marched themselves up the field and set up camp in the Wine Trade half. Constant pressure stretched the Wine Trade defense who to their credit entered every contact situation with full commitment. This was not enough however to prevent Crawford Henderson from crossing the line out wide again after some sublime inter play between forwards and backs down the short side allowing Craw to add to his impressive tally of Lloyd’s tries. Conversion missed. 36-14.
With Wine Trade now well beaten the closing stages of the game saw the try of the game and indeed the try of the season as Lloyd’s broke from just outside their own 22. With the ball going wide the effervescent Crawford Henderson used a Samoan side step to see of his opposite number and begin a charge up the wing. With the cover defence looming the ball was slipped inside through several sets of hands releasing Danny Parkinson up the middle of the park some 40 yards out. Again the cover tacklers made brave attempt to prevent the inevitable, but a well timed draw and pass from Parkinson ensured that Pete Fitzsimmons was on hand to scoot home from 20 yards out capping a strong performance for the young man. Conversion missed 41-14.
The LRFC team was as follows:
10. Hayward (Captain)