Date: Sat 16th Dec 2017
It was a drastically depleted squad that travelled to Woodford on Saturday for the latest installment of this season’s Merit League campaign. First team call-ups and injuries had resulted in a bare fifteen available to make the journey. A call to the Saints, whose game had been cancelled, resulted in two of their fringe players making themselves available for the bench but little did they realise that a couple of Saturday morning cry-offs would mean that they were going to be asked to play the full 80.
This was a must win game. The loss to Eton Manor last time out meant that, if The Rams were to gain promotion again this season, they must now win all their remaining fixtures.
The late news that Woodford were without a hooker and wanted to play the game uncontested didn’t go down particularly well as The Rams match day fifteen contained four props amongst their numbers. Today was going to be a tough ask!
An early Woodford score didn’t bode well as their youthful squad looked up for the encounter but The Rams were quick to respond. Hard driving play from the pack resulted in the space fly-half Ben Seymour was looking for and quick hands along the backline saw debutant winger, George Deboo, take full advantage of the meerest of openings on the right wing. 5 -5 with a difficult conversion to come. No problem for Seymour; 5-7.
Five minutes later and a carbon copy play on the opposite wing; this time fellow debutant winger Elliott Bruce, showed that he lacked none of the pace of Deboo; 5-12.
A Woodford infringement just outside of their twenty-two gave Seymour the opportunity to stretch the lead and he duly obliged; 5-15.
A further Woodford infringement resulted in Seymour finding touch deep inside home territory from the resulting kick. A clean take at the lineout and easy metres for the powerful Rams pack. Steadily driving nearer and nearer to the Woodford tryline, being encouraged and cajoled all the way by stand-in scrum-half Owen
Blissett who picked the perfect moment to snatch the ball and dive over the line; 5-22.
The pace of the game was beginning to tell with the heavy Rams pack but the lack of substitutes meant that they were all on there for the duration and the home team gradually fought their way back into the game. 10-22: 15-22: 20-22 and halftime.
It was obvious at the halftime huddle that a number of players were struggling with niggling injuries and fatigue but, with no bench, nobody was leaving the pitch until the final whistle unless they were carried off. The determination amongst the team to win the fixture was clear for all to see.
The Rams started the second half strongly, Charlie Robinson cutting a sublime line that left every Woodford defender grasping at thin air as he ghosted through to the tryline; 20-27.
Woodford were quick to reply with an unconverted effort to narrow the gap to two points.
The game then seemed to be stuck between the two twenty-twos as the two teams slogged it out in an effort to gain the ascendency. The Rams walking wounded displaying immense courage and character as time and again they dragged themselves to their feet and threw themselves into the defensive effort.
Five minutes later and the deadlock was broken; Woodford eventually finding the space and taking the lead; 32-27.
There were only minutes left on the clock and the cheering home support were already celebrating their victory. Alas, nobody had told The Rams that they had lost the match.
Again the visitors drove into the Woodford defence before Robinson spotted the opening and gratefully accepted it; racing deep into the Woodford twenty-two before releasing the speeding Deboo; 32-32. Seconds left on the clock and a pressure conversion to win the game.
Seymour eyed the sticks, the importance of his effort clear to all.
A clean strike that seemed to be heading straight through the centre of the posts but as it neared it’s destination it appeared to veer slightly off target. Every person present took a sharp breath as the ball bounced against the upright and slid sweetly over; 32-34 and the final whistle.
On paper The Rams should have been on the wrong end of a hiding today: two Saints fringe players: a 18 year old debutant winger who was playing his first game of senior Rugby after stopping playing at U16’s: four props in a game with uncontested scrums: a flanker thrown into scrum-half for the first time. The list of reasons why The Rams should lose seemed endless but the desire to play for each other and win for the team was enough to negate all of the negatives. Every player stood up to be counted and pushed themselves to the limit of their endurance and beyond to earn this victory.
Try: Deboo (2), Robinson, Bruce, Blissett
Paul Johnstone Barrie Hussie Danny Fitz Anthony Williamson Eric Penney Lew Buckner Dan MacCarthy Charlie Robinson Owen Blissett Ben Seymour George Deboo Ali Phillips Joel Drake Elliott Bruce Jack Snell