Sunday 27 October 2013 – 3.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Aviva Premiership #6
Loathe as I am to quote Manchester City fans, that was a “massive” result today. The league table here shows it – eighth position now, eleven points ahead of Worcester. We should probably still look down instead of up at the moment, but fourth-placed Exeter are only four points ahead of us.
This game was a battle and London Irish had the same opportunity as us, to put some real daylight between themselves and the bottom places. They brought a small but boisterous group of supporters, and for much of the game kept the atmosphere a little eerie inside of Kingston Park.
I think our forwards played a clever game for the most part, edging Irish in the scrum and defending tightly while not over-committing to rucks. The backs were not quite as good perhaps – whatever prompted the horrendous bout of aimless kicking in the middle period of the match seemed to be arrested without too much damage being done, but I can’t remember too many try-scoring opportunities bar the two actual scores we saw.
I had wondered whether I would get over to Newcastle at all for this match with some weather forecasters predicting storms of biblical proportions. Unsurprisingly they didn’t quite materialise, at least not in the North, and the worst I encountered was poor visibility on the M6. Indeed, KP was relatively warm and bright this afternoon but no doubt the wet ball led to both sides deciding on a forwards’ slog.
The drive home was a bit easier despite the early evening darkness. I guess it’ll be a few months now until we get to finish a match in daylight but that’s OK, the atmosphere at the end of a tight game always seems just a bit more intense in the dark.
Back to the game, my adopted Cumbrian brother (well, I’m the adopted one) Mark Wilson played another fantastic game and was a deserved man of the match, getting absolutely everywhere and putting in some big tackles. Carlo del Fava and Dom Barrow were also big players all around the game. None of the backs really stood out for me, except maybe Ryan Shortland who had a few good runs, but Rory Clegg didn’t have the greatest game, especially kicking from hand, and the backline never really got going.
It hasn’t all season of course, but a couple more wins perhaps and then we might be able to relax a bit and let the backs loose. Once safety seems secure, there will then be the opportunity to try to attract some quality for next season.
Just having another look at the table, only four teams have a better defence than us, only five have conceded fewer tries. The defence is solid and as long as it remains so, we have a chance of grinding out wins. The tries for column does not read so well – with three, the next-lowest scorers (Worcester) still have more than twice as many. Clegg’s off-day with the boot today almost cost us, so I’d say getting over the line more often must be the priority.
My last thought goes to the last kick of the game. I wonder whether, after the match, Shane Geraghty was sitting in the dressing room wishing he hadn’t delayed taking that last penalty so long that he had to rush it.
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)