Friday 2 August 2013
Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton
The Geordies are back! Our return to the Premiership went swimmingly as for the third year out of four, the Falcons clean-sweeped their group in the JPMorgan 7s. The exception was last year, when we didn’t compete.
It is an anomaly that we haven’t finished in the top half of the Premiership since 2002 yet in the shorter format of the sport we have won the Premiership Sevens, Middlesex Sevens and numerous Plates in the latter over the past 15 years.
Maybe we should forget the full game and just play in the international sevens series, Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
Not sure I’d like that to be honest. I enjoy sevens as a day/night out – my first experience of live rugby was a sevens tournament at KP on 1996 – but it lacks something.
Anyway, the Falcons team had a job to do last night, and led by captain Richard Mayhew and deserved man-of-the-evening Tom Catterick, they did it.
Northampton were the only team to really trouble our lads, going ahead late in an absorbing opening game before a last-gasp try sealed us the five points.
In our final game, which would decide who won the night’s trophy plate, Sale fought back with a late try at the end but were unable to overhaul the Falcons’ 12-0 lead.
The sevens tonight, next week and hopefully at Twickenham the following week will not tell us very much about the Falcons’ survival chances in the Premiership.
The main points I’d take are that Catterick and Mayhew look sharp, but also that, after Scottish at home and Bedford away last season, I really hope that Joel Hodgson has not been coached out of tackling hard around the knees.
It is an effective move that too few players seem to do these days.
But wins are never bad and winning a sevens tournament or two would not do any harm.
Ahead of our move back north, it turns out that wor lass is owed some holiday so hopefully we might get a weekend in Bath for the finals on Friday.
As for tonight, I was happy to finally eat at the Thomas A Becket pub in Northampton after many years of pre-match beers there. The steak pie and geet big pile of chips belied the cheap price, and the veg didn’t come out of a can. Good stuff.
Even though this has been quite a short close season due to the Championship playoffs, it has felt quite long and it’s great to be back into rugby mode!
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