Liverpool University Medics 1sts 10 – 19 Lymm Eagles
Eagles Team Match Report | Saturday November 26 2022
Clinical Lymm Survive Physical Medical Examination
On a dark, wet, and dismal Saturday afternoon, Lymm Eagles continued their excellent form with a gritty and determined win against Liverpool University Medics and in doing so, extended their winning run to 8 games. This was a game of pain and attrition and Lymm displayed a level of discipline and defensive cohesion and showed that they have the character to adapt their style of play.
Lymm arrived at Liverpool University Wyncote playing fields with a team that was stripped of some of its regular players. This included team captain Olly Brown, who was still completing his head injury protocols from a couple of weeks ago, with scrum half Chris (Lazarus) Kinsey deputising in Olly’s absence. Another missing regular was centre Rick McEvoy having to attend to a family emergency (get well soon Hallie). Despite being unavailable to play, Olly still put in his usual hard shift of several hundred messages, phone calls and emails to get a decent team out for the afternoon.
Lymm had 17 players on their team sheet and welcomed back hooker and all round dynamo forward Matt Grellier for only the second time this season. However, his arrival was met with a little disappointment when he revealed he had not brought his faster and much more talented brother Tom with him, (Wink).
The weather could best be described (in local scouse parly) as “grotty,” with constant icy rain and a stiff breeze, leading many to describe the temperature of 12C displayed on the electronic board outside the changing room as “absolute bollocks”. Whilst the Lymm vets were liberally applying their usual 2 inch thick layers of deep heat, many yards of tape, and adjusting their surgical appliances, they were informed that the Medics had declared to the Referee that, although they had a full complement of extremely youthful and very fit players with an apparent average age of about 12, they had none who were established members of the front row, and so requested that the scrums should be uncontested from the start. Although this would undoubtedly restrict the ability of the highly effective Lymm forwards in the set pieces, at least it made a change from going uncontested sometime during the match as had happened in the previous 8 Lymm Eagles matches. The Medics had also asked for the kick off to be delayed until 2:30 to allow for some latecomers. Despite both teams already being out on the pitch and Lymm ready to kick off at 2:15, the Medics decided to retreat to the changing rooms, leaving the elderly vets out on the pitch and at severe risk of hypothermia. Some of the Lymm players also felt that the later kick off would not help their already failing eyesight and mean finishing perilously close to their bedtimes.
The first half was a very tight affair, with the game being predominately played between the 22m lines. Lymm probably enjoyed more of the possession without really doing an awful lot with it. Any attacks were quickly stifled by strong defence from the Medics and superb tackling by all the Lymm players prevented any serious attacks. The conditions were also playing their part, with a slippery ball and cold hands allowing the ball to go to ground on many occasions. Lymm did make several forays towards the Medics line, with strong runs from Kahai, Williams and Stroud but these were repelled again and again because of either poor decision making or indiscipline. The lineout was operating effectively, with flankers Dowdswell and Johnstone stealing several balls, although even this sometimes put Lymm under pressure, with the ball again squirming around on the ground and not being regathered. Strong defence by the Medics gave them the confidence to take the play up the pitch on the back of several Lymm penalties. However, it took until the 27th minute for the scoreboard to be troubled, with the Medics moving the ball accurately down their back line and for their long legged centre to score an unconverted try in the corner (5-0). It was testament to the quality of play on both sides that this was the first time that either team’s defensive line had been broken. This try turned out to be the only score of the half and the remaining minutes of the half were played out with little incident.
HT: Liverpool University Medics 5 – 0 Lymm Eagles
The message at half time was to keep up the energy levels and concentration in defence and to try and stay on the right side of the Ref, who was starting to get frustrated with so many Lymm penalties. Lymm freshened their forwards up by bringing on Dave Coon and Jim France, who had selflessly benched themselves for the first half and had in no way hidden themselves under everyone else’s coats to keep warm. The rain had stopped and Lymm now had the advantage of a strong wind at their backs and playing downhill on the noticeably sloping pitch.
The start of the second half mirrored the start of the first, with more quality defence on both sides and infuriating errors stopping much flowing rugby being played. Lymm continued to carry hard, with prop Quinn Peers and centre Rob (that’s spelled with two ff’s) Griffiths coming to the fore and with their powerful ball carrying drives. Clever kicks over the heads of the defence by Kinsey and fly half George Anderson had the Medics back peddling, with excellent chasing from wingers Oli Larkin and Josh Keefe pinning the Medics back in their own 22. It took until the 57th minute for Lymm to finally score, with several rumbles and crash balls taking the team close before flanker Kieran Williams crashed over for a well-deserved try, expertly converted by Anderson (5-7).
A Medics’ player was shown a yellow card for killing the ball once too often and Lymm sensed that another score would come quickly. However, several pieces of indiscipline from Lymm allowed the Medics to wrestle back the momentum and it was them who started to look most dangerous. Lymm tried to cling on but were only awarded with a yellow card to fly half Anderson for cynically preventing a quick tap penalty. Lymm repelled several attacks and great work in the ruck by Grellier won Lymm back possession. On 72 minutes, just inside the Medics half, centre Simon Beards showed his excellent rugby brain by noticing that there was no defence directly behind the ruck and skilfully collected the ball to leap gracefully over the bodies on the floor to glide in from 40 metres out for a try under the sticks which was converted by Toby Philips (5-14). This took Lymm more than a score ahead with only 8 minutes to go. The Medics though refused to back down and came charging back up the pitch. Lymm tried desperately to hang on but were penalised several times for high tackles. Captain Chris Kinsey warned his team that the next high tackle would see a yellow card. 30 seconds later, Kinsey was yellow carded for a high tackle. Whether this was a blatant attempt by Chris to get off the pitch early for a hot shower or not, this scribe can only speculate. From the resulting penalty the Medics went through several phases before again getting the ball wide for their winger to score an unconverted try (10-14).
With only two minutes left on the clock and all the players running on empty, it was definitely squeaky bum time! Lymm kicked off and the Medics immediately spread the ball wide to their strong running centre, who broke through the Lymm defence with seemingly no one in front of him. However, he was hunted down by full back Toby Philips, who despite going off with a shoulder injury minutes earlier, had dragged himself back on to the pitch. Toby not only managed to tackle the player but stripped the ball in the process and ran in from 30 metres for a great individual try, giving it his full tongue out, cackling laugh to the Medics defence (10-19). The conversion was missed but the Ref immediately blew up for full time. What an ending!!
FT: Liverpool University Medics 10 – 19 Lymm Eagles
Compared to Lymm Eagles usual free flowing, unstructured, exciting brand of rugby that this scribe is usually “treated” to, this game was one that even the rugby purists would have enjoyed. The game was an excellent display of grit and determination by all the Lymm players against a very strong, fit and skilful opposition. Both teams were excellent in defence, strong in attack, very physical in their tackling, worked extremely hard in horrible conditions and should be commended for their efforts and sportsmanship. It was a shame that one team had to lose, but this scribe has rarely watched a Lymm Eagles match where he could take so much pride in supporting the winning team. Well done lads, you made a moderately old man very happy.
After much debate between Pete and David Coon on the drive home, special mentions for man of the match candidates must go to Soheil Kahai, Kieran Williams and Simon Beards. However, it was eventually agreed that the Man of the Match should be Matt Grellier for his tireless work in both defence and attack and for bringing a great level of enthusiasm and encouragement to his teammates. A late email application for Man of the Match from absent Captain, Olly Brown, was rejected.
Thanks to the Medics for the game, although I must remember next time to bring my own packed lunch, with no food provided or available in the Brook House pub after the game.
Next week, Lymm will be looking for revenge against Burnage 3XV, one of only two teams in the league to have beaten them this season. 14:15 at Crouchley Lane, all welcome.
Team: 1) Quinn Peers 2) Matt Grellier 3) Soheil Kahai 4) Aldin Zillic 5) Ben Stroud 6) Joe Dowdswell 7) Kieran Williams 8) Nat Johnstone 9) Chris Kinsey (C) 10) George Anderson 11) Josh Keefe 12) Simon Beards 13) Rob Griffiths 14) Oli Larkin 15) Toby Phillips. REP 16) Jim France 17) David Coon