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Old Reigatian 2nd XV v Battersea Ironsides XV, Match Report

Old Reigatian 2nd XV 21 v Battersea Ironsides XV 57

So, this season’s OR 2nd XV / Battersea Ironside trilogy concluded with a resounding victory for the visitors. No excuses – we were outplayed, rather like Exeter at Toulouse, by a superior side, who were able to edge up through the gears every time they needed to pull away from us.

There were, however, as always, positives to take away, and parts of the conflict where we displayed the strengths that have taken us so far this season. On top of this, there were big individual displays by Ciaran Lee and David Niven, and an outstanding performance from Tom Woodford, whose attack and line running [two tries] and full-on defence kept as in touch with, if not ever challenging, our opponents. Again, this outlines what we already know – the step up to 1st XV level is an ongoing progression route for our younger players; the key point to take away is that, despite the disparity between the two sides, we worked hard and did not give up the fight [Noel Jones’s full stretch tackle late in the game, giving him some extra scars to add to his collection, and Kev Sheldrick’s passion, to take on a couple of the opposition at close quarters, emphasizing this].

A lively start by ORs offered Ciaran opportunity to make an adventurous break through midfield, after ball had been moved productively, but Ironsides soon ‘set out their stall’ for the afternoon and within the first quarter were three scores to the good. With about 10 minutes to go until the break a Green and Blue surge took us into the Battersea 22 [Ciaran again making the yards], after determined defence and brave attempts to counter attack had shown that we were very much endeavouring to compete [Toby Brann, Joe Jenner, Lucas Stephens amongst others]. Sound interplay edged us closer to the opponents’ line and a clever inside ball from Niv to Rob Cheal at pace gave us points on the board – Lucas added the extras [7 – 19].

In previous matches, this upsurge has seen us reach a psychological turning point, however, Ironsides managed another goal to take the half time scoreboard to 7 – 26, crossing the line again twice shortly after the restart to leave ORs thirty-one points adrift. Elliot Anderson, back at centre for the day, made ground and Woody was on hand to score his first try of the afternoon and pull us back towards respectability [Lucas converting successfully], but again, even though we were competing, three more scores saw us soundly beaten. In between this, Woody carved his way through the defenders to go over the line [duly converted by himself] – a fine individual effort, which took us over the twenty-point mark.

As stated, there are no excuses, but with players unavailable, others playing out of position, injuries mounting as the game progressed and Ironsides fielding a very experienced and powerful team, it was always going to a game too far for us to win.

Well done to everyone in the matchday squad [hopefully injuries will heal quickly], all kept the AXV spirit alive and worked hard [particular mention for Alex Le Berruyer, who played his best match so far since his return, and to Will Brann, making his debut – a real baptism of fire].

Interesting conversation in the aftermath about where players and coaches would like to take this team next year; it is your opportunity to put this in place, guys, and build your own legacy for future ORs…it has the potential to be even more exciting than this season!

A great night out for those who made it; particular thanks to Noel for supplying so many beers [especially for the boat race, which reminds me – backs, please give the forwards chance to redeem themselves next time out!].

Maybe one more outing against Reigate, in a couple of weeks, to finish the 23/24 campaign, but whether it happens or not you have done yourselves and the Club proud this year – I, amongst many others, have enjoyed every minute of it!

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