National League 2 Promotion Playoff
Luctonians RFC 31 v 17 Blaydon RFC
Saturday 27th April 2019
What scenes and emotion were to be found at Mortimer Park on Saturday!
Promotion play-off day versus old adversaries from National 2 North. Having made the long journey down from ‘up North’, Blaydon, who finished second in the respective Northern Section looked, and by all those who are supposed to be ‘in the know’ said, were going to give our boys a tough game to see who claimed the promotion spot back into Nat2 for next season.
An enormous crowd of stalwart Lucs supporters filled the stands and the pitch surrounds, and they were bouncing. The Clubhouse was full to bursting and the beer pumps were working overtime, and that was before kick-off.
And the boys in Black and White gave the assembled throng everything they came to watch, an excellent performance and a fully deserved victory, playing some excellent rugby in a fine victory to see us promoted.
Early nerves from kick-off, as both sides settled into their game plan. Blaydon, playing with the wind, were kicking to the corners to exert early pressure on the Lucs defensive line. But they boys held firm and started to drive their opponents back with some impressive defending, and when Lucs started to play with ball hand, especially across the back line, they threatened Blaydon’s resolve.
Josh Watkins broke the scoring ice when he weaved through the Blaydon line to touch down on 14 mins with Louis Silver adding the extras with a tough kick in the swirling wind (7-0). Both sides were giving all, and some of the tackling hits were hard, and that’s being kind.
The magical dancing feet of Watkins were in evidence again just before the half hour mark, when he waltzed through Blaydon’s defence once again to touch down in the corner. Silver’s kick not quite having the legs to go over in the strong winds.
Drew Cheshire then added to his impressive tally for the season when smart work from Callum Young, Alex Smith and Isaac Fanueli put him away to score and stretch Lucs lead out to 19-0. Silver adding the conversion.
The Black and Whites were dominant, their set piece play was excellent with the pack, led by Joe White, driving Blaydon backwards on numerous occasions. Blaydon picked up 3 points on the half time whistle when Lucs were pinged for not releasing in front of the posts, but went in to rapturous applause 19-3 to the good.
Half Time Score
Luctonians 19 v 3 Blaydon
Lucs kicked off the second half and with almost the first phase of play, Guy Kirkby crashed through a throng of players to dot down. A Public Service Announcement that some chap had lost his tweed cap was greeted with derision in the stands, as half of those seated were wearing one, anyone of which could have been his.
And it didn’t take long before the 857 strong crowd were ‘making some noise’ again.
This time when John Morris stole away to dive over to secure, with Louis Silver‘s conversion, a 31-3 lead after 55mins. The game secure and, despite Tom Pearson seeing yellow for Lucs, the Coaches rotated the bench and all four replacements entered the fray to be part of the occasion. Whether these changes affected the team balance or the Lucs became perhaps a little over confident, didn’t really matter as Blaydon ran in two tries in the last 10 minutes, through Alex Clark and Jamie Guy, the latter drop kicking the extras to keep the game alive for them to stand a chance.
It all came to nothing however for Blaydon, as Lucs played the last 5 minutes deep in their territory and when the pea rotated in referee Mr Hamish Grant’s whistle for the last time, Mortimer Park erupted into scenes of delirium. Champagne corks popped on the field, with players and support staff alike bouncing to celebrate this great win. The crowd was ecstatic and the buzz around the ground and clubhouse post match was as good as I have witnessed.
Congratulations to everyone involved with Senior Rugby at Luctonians, it takes a lot of graft, discipline and hard earned endeavour for a humble village team from the outback (apologies to you all reading this in Kingsland) of Herefordshire, to be rewarded with the opportunity once again next season to be playing within the Top 80 Clubs in English Club Rugby Some achievement.
I have loved it, hope you have too and as the Rugby season draws to a close I for one can’t wait for next season to start in September. If I don’t see you on the Pétanque piste throughout the next few months, have great summer.
Full Time Score
Luctonians 31 v 17 Blaydon
Followed very closely by 14 other starters and 4 off the bench. 10/10 to all.
Tries: Josh Watkins (13,27), Drew Cheshire (38), Guy Kirkby (43), John Morris (54)
Cons: Louis Silver (14, 39, 55)
Tries: Alex Clark (69), Jamie Guy (75)
Cons: Jamie Guy (70, 76)
Pen: Jamie Guy (40)
Connor Deignan, Guy Kirkby, Joe White, Loz Breese, Tom Pearson, Callum Young, Mat Hackley, Aiden Cheshire, Louis Silver, Will Burton, Johnny Morris, Isaac Fanueli, Alex Smith, Drew Cheshire, Josh Watkins.
Replacements: Dan Powell, Cameron Tawfik, Seb Robinson, Rob Bengry
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