Pinner 24 – 31 Old Millhillians
Following an impressive opening day victory, the choccy and whites turned their attention to neighbours Pinner & Grammarians. A stone’s throw from the fortress Headstone Lane, OM’s set about to extend their North London empire and pitched up to conquer the league’s new boys.
With the teams set on the battlefield, the war commenced and OM’s kicked off playing right to left with the sun basking down on them. From early on the tone was set for the match’s make up, a large Pinner pack sought to dominate the early stages while it was the pace and agility of the M’s backline that were causing problems for the opposition. With the referee implementing an interesting new take on the offside line that there had to be at least a foot between yourself and the ruck, the choccy and whites found themselves on the end of several offside decision, pinning themselves within their half. However, the resilience of the defence which would continue throughout the game kept Pinner at bay and the M’s began to find their foothold in the game. An explosive back’s move sent Daniel James blistering through the defence, an opportunity which was exploited on several occasions, luckily Dan has been working on his catching ability over the summer.
From a set piece and using Dan Conway as a decoy, the M’s found space out wide and some subtle but impressive quick handling from Will Oliver Flute Samler saw George Fenton in space and from 20 yards out no one was going to catch him 0-5. Old Millhillians took control of the game and with applied pressure found themselves with a penalty in Pinner’s half. A quick tap from James Davis-Roycroft surprised a sleeping Pinner defence and the ball was whisked wide, with an overlap as large as a night in club du, Oli Avent failed to pass the ball out wide, instead stepping inside and being held up (Dick of the day to come). From the ensuing scrum, Joe Wray picked and went crashing over the line and sparing Oli Avent’s blushes, conversion successful 0-12. However, a lapse of concentration from the restart, allowed Pinner to regain position deep in the M’s half, with some strong forward Pinner found their way over, undoing the hard work up the other end, 7-12.
Words at half time asking for effort and leaving everything out on the field quickly evaporated when the 2nd half whistle went. Pinner playing with a higher intensity than us saw them utilise the classic OM’s 5 mins after half time curse and this was exaggerated by a sin bin for a Chris Jewel-Clarkhigh tackle, the victim of too many penalties, and a 100% record for yellow’s this season. Pinner took advantage of the extra and and crashed over to put them into the lead, 14-12. A response from Old Millhillians was needed and it came through tactical kicking from new man Lawrence Haywood at 12, to apply pressure on a full back who shall we say won’t be winning player of the season. A penalty for killing the ball resulted in a yellow for Pinner and a quick tap to Joe Wray saw him crash through again for his second, 14-19. Careless play from a scrappy few minutes allowed Pinner to dominate in all areas and the lead lasted only a matter of minutes as Pinner scored with another conversion, 21-19. With 14 players apiece OM’s would have fancied there chances, but ill discipline and a lack of organisation allowed the opposition to take control of the tempo and possession. A further penalty stretched the lead to 24-19. OM’s continued to be unable to find a way to play their rugby, with the backs lacking the ball and too many mistakes across the pitch leading to Pinner maintaining possession. Four minutes remained to salvage the game and maintain the unbeaten start.
When Pinner were dragged into touch 5 metres from the OM’s line, the choccy and whites switched into action. Consecutive penalties found the M’s up the field and with patterns being played that Coach Brad would have been proud of Daniel James saw himself 2 on 1 with the fullback and while the kick wasn’t need through, Samler lapped up the opportunity to chase it down for the score. 24-24, conversion successful, 24-24. That’s how the ref saw it, despite protests from the team the ref declared the scores were tied and he would discuss it after the game. What to do? well only what the M’s love to do. Straight from the kick off through the back’s who had the wheels on and Rob Seger scored in the corner to make sure we had won.
From a game where we hadn’t been at our best to winning with a bonus point, this is the strength of this squad this year. Whereas in the past couple of years we may have capitulated we are determined to not give up. Special performances from the biggest nause on the team Joe Wray and to Fraser Wood and Sebastian Kosmin for stepping up when needed, but MOM went to Daniel James although we’ll never hear the end of it now. But he made hits, hit lines and was a nuisance all afternoon.
Next week sees a top of the table clash at Headstone Lane against London Scottish. All are welcome to come down to watch.
MOM: Dan Conway
DOTD: Oli Avent