Friday dawned, with a lot of expectation from within a highly motivated, but underperforming group of Shebeen Boys. The weather was perfect for a game of Shebeen style rugby (even in spite of the sandpit at the Bay). And at times this game did not disappoint!
Soon after kick off, a string of excellent phase play and quick ball at ruck time lead to flyhalf Rich “Gworm” Stemmet having a plethora of options on attack, just outside the Bay 22. Instead of flinging the ball wide as anticipated, a deft touch on the inside to a flying flanker, Tyler “Catwalk” Reichardt saw the man go over basically untouched for the first try of the game. The conversion was good, leaving Shebeen 7 zip up in under 10 minutes.
As has often been the case this season, the boys failed to capitalise on this momentum. Some enterprising play from the Bay Boets saw them cross the whitewash soon after scoring was opened at the other end. Unconverted, the score was 5-7 after about a quarter of an hour. Soon thereafter, a penalty to the Bay Boychays right in front saw them pop into the lead for the first time, 8-7.
The softness of this play seemed to light the fire a bit, and some superb rugby, with excellent ball retention saw Shebeen march their way upfield. Having lost Brendan “Lineout God” Hepburn to a fractured cheek from a restart, Shebeen were forced to avoid kicking penalties to touch- a risky game plan to say the least. However, after strong linking and recycling by both backs and forwards, the ball eventually went wide where Catwalk Reichardt crashed over for his second, carrying a minimum of 2 of their fattest blokes over with him. The try went unconverted, and the half closed with the Shebeen Boys up 8-12.
The second half started quite frenetically, with lots of big clashes, huge turnovers, and all round good rugby on display as each team fought hard for the ascendancy. Shebeen made the mistake of giving away a few penalties in quick succession within their half, though luckily their kicker had a range of 12.5m and didn’t slot any of them. As if spurred on by their failing confidence in their 10, Shebeen launched a massive attack. This which saw our own Gironkey, Courtney “Chalky” Chase, lope through a huge gap in their defence to pop over the whitewash for our third try. Converted from a tightish angle, Shebeen surged to a 8-19 lead.
Never ones to be outdone, however, the Bay Bruisers seemed to click into another gear as their bench got involved in the game after starting legs began fading. Wave after wave of attack was finally rewarded when strong running and offloading in the tackle resulted in an overlap and the Bay trotted over for their second try- and just like a blind squirrel, the kicker finally found his nut and popped one over the bar. 15-19 with 8 or so minutes left.
By this time, the Shebeen Boys were looking ragged after what must have been a sapping game, but the gents kept on coming! An opportunity presented itself when one of their fatties almost beheaded Kent “Sideshow Bob” Davids with a textbook “shoulder to the face” tackle about 45m out, and off to the side. Matt “Superman” van Eeden stepped up, and looked to have popped it over the cross bar from distance, but it was adjudged to have fallen “short by a ball hair”. The Bay took this as their cue, one final shot. With basically no time left on the clock, and a defense scrambling to hold onto their slender lead, a few quickly taken penalties and well stolen balls allowed them back into our 22. With the clock up, they managed to create a 4 on 2 on the far side of the field, and went over for an incredibly valuable 5 pointer. The kicker’s miss was of no consequence, and for a second time in a clash with a top 4 opponent, Shebeen went down by one point in the last play of the game, 20-19.
It is tough to single out performances too much as everyone had a solid game, all doing their jobs well. Kieran Casserley was strong with ball in hand and munched a couple of the lads, Dan Searle tackled like a demon, Rich Stemmet ran the backline beautifully. However, clear Man of the Match, with an outstanding performance on both defence and attack was earned by The Face of Tommy Hilfiger, Tyler Reichardt.
The loss was gut-wrenching for the team, to say the least. However, so many positives can be taken from the game, as we played 70% of the rugby, we just failed to convert a few chances, and probably lacked the fitness of the opposition. That being said, the season is far from over, and with one more game before the mid-season break, the boys will be leaving it all out on the field before they put the legs up for a bit. Join us for a huge rematch against traditional rivals Fourths.com this Friday at VFC- they have a point to prove and will be coming at us!