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18/19 starts but old habits aren't finished

Round 1 Belsize IVs Away – Old Habits Die Hard

Final Score: 38 – 14 Loss

Man of the Match: Tim Henschke

Dick of the Day: Tom Rouse


1 Alex Raue

2 Josh Amptmeyer

3 Rainier Deysel

4 Will Kosek

5 Tom Mansfield

6 Lachlan Ratjens

7 Peter Lacey

8 Michael Buchan

9 Dave April

10 Slade Siameja

11 Tom Stott

12 John Sanger

13 Troy Clayton

14 Tim Henschke

15 Tom Rouse

16 Morgan Schuler

17 Xander Bobir

18 Rhys Davies

19 Jamie Powell

20 Alex Ristrom


After a few good training sessions and confirmation of good numbers for the first fixture of the season the signs were pointing in the right direction and it looked like the boys were ready to shake the tag of being notoriously slow starters. Unfortunately, it was to prove old habits die hard as the exact same infringements that had us blown out of the semi-final last season once again gave us no chance to compete against a pretty well organised Belsize IV’s.

The final training session focussed on the first 10 minutes of play (receiving, settling sets from the forwards and clearing safely from the backs) nice classic, organised rugby – simple. But from the first kick-off all plans were thrown out the window and a blueprint based on the New Zealand Warriors 2004 season was hastily slapped together to fill the void. A wild looping pass was flung away from support, runners opted for lateral lines before shovelling shit in contact and eventually after 3 phases of this the inevitable knock-on had us defending 30m out from our own line 30 seconds in. Raue and Rainier had been waiting months for a scrum (some say if you take a walk through Richmond park on a quiet summers evening you might catch sight of a scrum-deprived Rainier tackling trees just to feel something) and debutant Josh “Ampy” Amptmeyer put his best foot forward, shunting the Belsize scrum backwards. They scrambled well enough off the back and then set about their task simply – setting up pods wide off the ruck and stretching the ruck defence, a play they were to repeat for the majority of the next 80 mins.

A lack of real game preparation seemed to be Quintin’s main issue as we were well of the pace, losing the battle at the contact line and walking to set the defensive line after only a few minutes of play. The first ruck penalty, 15m out dead in front gave Belsize an open invitation to take first points, which, echoing Beauden Barrett early that morning, they kindly rejected by shanking it horribly to the left. The second ruck penalty came off the 22m restart which let Belsize kick deep into the 22 where the pressure eventually told and they went over to score the first points of the season. In an unbelievable case of déjà vu the EXACT same sequence above followed and Quintin were soon to be 14-0 down after 10m.

This appeared to wake up some of the boys who started the brush off some cobwebs and, on the back of an old fashioned spiral punt from Tim Henschke which banana’d nicely into touch, we had our first foray into Belsize territory. The tandem towers of Will Kosek and Tom Mansfield (supported by aerial guest star Michael Buchan) got up to pressure the Belsize line-out into several errors and again showed the forwards had an edge at set piece. Crazy Dave cleared quickly from the base of another solid scrum while Troy (having moved into 12 after Sanger picked up an unfortunate early knock that saw him sidelined) ran an inside dummy line that created enough space for Slade to slip through before putting a left foot step on the full back to chalk up the first try for the campaign.

The soundtrack to the next 40 minutes was the sound of the referees whistle followed closely by the marching feet of Quintin back-pedalling 10 metres. Penalty after penalty after penalty let Belsize hitch several free rides downfield into the red-zone where they were busy enough to bag a couple more tries, one an exact mirror of Quintins midfield move in the first half. A half-time discussion, substitutions and the widening gap in the scoreline weren’t enough to stop the ruck infringements and at the end of the day after 4 final warnings from the referee we were lucky to have all 15 on the field for the full 80 minutes. The positive points to take away were;

· the eventual adjustment in defence led by the shoulder of Pete Lacey, backed up with a steadying performance from debutant Morgan Schuler in the second spell despite a tweeked hamstring

· Debutant Alex Ristrom showed pace and power run in the family but thankfully glass bones do not, surviving 75 minutes with some scything midfield breaks and solid defence.

· The back three had a solid day – collecting and returning all kicks well while Tim Henschke’s classy kicks, fancy footwork and goal line defence in his Man of the Match performance was juxtaposed by the dick of the day moment dubbed “When two Tom’s become one” – Tom Rouse and Tom Stott failing to call for a highball resulting in a dangerous midair collision under no pressure from any opposition chasers.

Another good sign was that in spite of the score line the boys played the full 80, punctuated by Lachlan Ratjens 5 pointer in the 75th minute – hitting the line hard he was put down at the second attempt but showed the desire and composure to release, get back to his feet, re-gather and power over under the posts.

A conservative estimate would make that 50 penalties conceded in the last two games, a stat which makes it impossible to win a game of rugby. With the first real hit-out done and dusted it’s semi-final victors Old Thamesians on the horizon giving a second chance for the boys to demonstrate we can learn from our mistakes and break bad habits.

Next Weeks Information:

AWAY to Old Thamesians 2nds

KO at 13:00, meet 11:30.

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