Moles 34 Dartford Valley II 0
'Social rugby at its best'
On yet another glorious day for rugby, the Moles entertained new opponents at Rectory Field in the shape of the Dartford Valley II. Darts had been due to be in Gravesend to take on the Swans; however, with that fixture re-arranged due to the number of Swans at Twickenham for the England v Samoa, Moles’s skipper Elvis seized the opportunity to keep the Moles show on the road after last week’s disappointing blowout by the Kings Cross Steelers.
With the Trumpets and Gannets both having league games, Elvis knew it wouldn’t be easy getting a side but nonetheless had pretty much 15 forwards ready to ‘stick it up the jumper’ last Thursday. Nonetheless, late searches for recognised half backs and some pace to the back line saw semi-retired Gannet, Martin Taylor, former 1st XV player Gary Kelham and GRFC Academy players, Luke Titmuss and Joe Eaton join the squad.
Dartford had their own problems getting a team together too and late ‘cry offs’ left them with only 12 players. Step up new GRFC players in Dan Rumsey, Ben Cordaroy, Matt Daly and Phil McNab who all agreed to turn out in a red shirt for various lengths of times to get the game on. Thanks fellas; much appreciated by both sets of players!
Rugby wise, Elvis’ pre-match talk was all about playing ‘Moles rugby’; maintaining composure and discipline keeping possession, playing the game at their pace and keeping it tight until in sight of the oppo try line. ‘Nods’ and “yeahs” came back a plenty and this plan was largely executed albeit without the Moles getting the points reward that their level of possession warranted. On reflection, some of this was due to the mish-mash of players getting used to playing with one another during the first half. Things started to gel particularly between Gary Kelham at 10 and inside centre and vice-skipper Gareth Moore; with latter clearly enjoying running on to perfectly popped Kelham balls time after time.
With the clock ticking towards half-time, a Moles sortie up the right side of the banana pitch towards the school saw an overlap emerge on the opposite side which was exploited thanks to Oaf running a great line and deciding to pass to senior rugby debutant Luke Titmuss who in turn, smartly passed into the hands of fellow GRFC Academy player, Joe Eaton, for his first try in senior rugby. A Kelham conversion saw the Moles walk to the half-time huddle 7-0 to the good.
Shortly before half-time, Dartford’s impactful big second row limped from the pitch injured thus requiring that the Moles’ ‘legend in his own sin bin time’, Velcro, to step up and help out the oppo. This initially confused the (off-pitch anyway) mild-mannered estate agent so much that he initially marched out to join the Valley scrum still wearing his black Moles’ shirt. As he changed into a red shirt, the disappointment on his face could easily be read, “I don’t think fighting one of my own mates will go down too well, will it?”, his weary, downtrodden look seemed to say.
The half-time team talk led by vice-skipper Gareth centred on not being complacent, to keep up the current momentum and with the good old discipline and composure, the points will come. And, for a welcome change the Moles took their own advice, kept their heads and the second half saw more flowing Moles rugby and subsequently no less than five tries.
First up to score was Oaf, who got over a sulk at not being on the published team because he was unsure whether he could make the KO time, to have another quality performance in the black shirt; albeit this time from his most familiar second row position. Forming a pod inside Gary Kelham and young Joe on the wing, lazy forwards that they are, Oaf and Elvis were whinging like Hinge and Brackett ten metres out from the Darts try line and watching the likes of Mayhem, Heinz and Gareth trying to exploit the craziness of ‘white line fever’ by fruitlessly trying to smash through the solid and resilient Valley defence locked solid on their try line. After a while, scrum half Taylor got bored and the ball came to Elvis via another exquisite pass from Gary Kelham. Although with his eyes on that line himself, Elvis resisted the temptation of personal glory to draw an onward defender and lay off a perfect (for a prop) ball for the oncoming at pace Oaf to take comfortably over the line. 12-0
Next up was young Joe Eaton again into the left corner after more flowing Moles rugby saw the ball move quickly through the hands. Two tries in your first game of senior rugby. Can’t be bad eh? Actually, where was the third Joe? Is this an early case of ‘jug avoidance’? 17-0
Dan Rumsey had done his bit helping out Dartford in the first half and was now back in a Moles shirt for the second half with Ben Cordaroy swapping places. Good old fashioned forwards work with great carries from the likes of Heinz, Pierre, Mayhem, Welshy and Ralph saw the Moles threatening on the five metre line where Dan was able to, at pace, pick and go to place down just to the left of the posts. Still to play more than a handful of matches since returning to the game after a ‘sabbatical’, it is great to see Dan growing in confidence and clearly enjoying his rugby. It’s also worth pointing out that he was one of Dartford’s standout players in the first half too. 24-0
With Joe Eaton enjoying a dream senior debut for the club, Luke Titmuss’ sterling contribution at outside centre was in danger over being undeservedly overshadowed in the senior rugby debut stakes. However, this wasn’t to be the case as he stepped into the spotlight and also got himself on the scoresheet by strongly finishing another flowing move off in the top right hand corner. 29-0
One of the Moles/Swans new player ‘finds’ of the season (amongst many) has been Graham Harvey. New to the game but an experienced sportsman, Graham has developed rapidly over less than ten matches and is looking more and more comfortable across the back three. Unfortunately, although there had been numerous ‘close but no cigar’ moments during the season to date; Graham’s rapid rugby progress had yet to include a try. No doubt the floodgates will now open for him as he broke his duck by touching down on the far side where Luke had scored shortly before. 34-0
Admittedly, this report reads like one-way traffic by the Moles for the whole 80 minutes but this was not the case. Dartford Valley had their moments threatening the Moles try line and their strong and speedy centre drew two excellent try saving tackles first from Graham Harvey and later from Welshy.
Before the final whistle blew, there were a few comedy moments worthy of note:
Firstly Velcro, who conceded the most obvious ‘in from the side’ penalty for his adopted Darts in the entire history of rugby. Think of one of those sneaky Richie Macaw efforts and then imagine the opposite! Something like: Velcro shouts “ball’s out”, looks up to see if anyone is watching him; like a burglar in a grey/black striped suit with black mask and carrying a bag marked “SWAG”, and then gets on a bus to the Old G’s before turning 180 degrees back towards the Moles’s side of the ruck. Genius!
Now forget the grey area surrounding England’s Jonny May recently being declared faster than Usain Bolt. Moles hooker, Heinz, has been technically faster than the Jamaican for many years now simply because ‘he’s 58 you know’. With Posty typically battle-worn and off with a blood injury, Heinz came on at 6 with Welshy moving to the open side. Following his first scrum in his new position, Heinz found himself very rapidly advancing the ball forward 10 metres and knocking it on before the front rows had even thought that the ball had been put in. TMO facilities provided by Dartford Valley’s coaching camcorder (what’s all that about?) later revealed that Heinz had literally taken the ball out of the front row. You can’t teach an old dog new laws and all that!
Moving on to the Darts’ young ginger winger, ‘Biscuit’ who was (wait for it………) STEPPED VERY CONVINCINGLY by three-times-his-age Gordon ‘Q’ McQuaid who also deserves credit not only for this silky piece of skill, but also doing it somewhere in the vicinity of the wing he was meant to be playing on at the time. Afore ye go, Laddie!
And finally, with referee Dave Stormin’ Norman’s words of “last play” floating around Rectory Field, the Moles surged forward for a seventh try of the afternoon. It was looking good, with passes here and offloads there until the ball came to Mayhem. Everything slowed down. “Oh he won’t, will he?” “He’s had really good game, loads of good carries; talks a load of bollocks most of the time but he’s the one who keeps everyone talking on the pitch; surely he won’t?” And what happened next reader? You guessed it; Mayhem knocked it on. Full time 34-0
So, another good victory for the Moles although possibly one to keep a degree of perspective with in terms of Dartford Valley being under strength and short on numbers. Nonetheless; a win is a win!
What was most satisfying for skipper Elvis was the truly ‘social’ makeup of the Moles side that ran out today: A Mole elder, a few tie wearing Moles, some genuine wannabe Moles, a son of a Mole, coaches, dads of lads, new or returning to the game players, a former 1st XV player and last but not least, Academy players taking their first bow in senior rugby. Elvis, vice-skipper Gareth Moore and other regularly playing Moles are passionate about keeping the Moles rugby brand well and truly alive at GRFC and perhaps this was good indicator of what Moles’ teams might regularly look like moving forward. Maybe the halcyon days of squads of 30 very like-minded ‘brothers’ who had all trained on the previous Wednesday are aspirational at best these days, but nonetheless it is very much hope that Moles’ founder Gary Theobald would have been pleased with today’s team and its effort for the Moles badge.
During half-time at the England v Samoa match, ceremonials were undertaken. Graham Harvey found himself up on a chair for a retrospective Mole of the Match award for the Maidstone Vets game back on 12/11 and joining him was today’s Mole of the Match and the nicest South African you’ll ever meet, Pierre du Toit, who supported the attack superbly all afternoon with great carries and offloads. The Moles don’t usually do ‘dick of the day’ but broke ranks with tradition to acknowledge the aforementioned ‘Biscuit’s’ heinous crime of being STEPPED by a sexagenarian Scottish architect of no fixed rugby ability but offset by the fire of William Wallace in his belly!
Special thanks go out to the Mole elders, Terry, Stan, PK, Ork, and Meemar (and young Crusty), for their vocal support and particular Moley love and kisses to Mole photographer, Bugs Jones for taking a great set of photos.
And so the Moles party kicks on to an unprecedented (well, since 2010 anyway) third match in four weeks next Saturday at home to Beccehamians Eclectics; an event which will merely act as a curtain raiser to everyone’s favourite first Crimbo dinner of the year at the Moles Ball in the evening.
More undeniable proof, as if anyone would ever dare to challenge it, that the Moles is something much much more than just a rugby team!