Moles 17 LAS Rugby 26
A sterner test for Moles sees the end of unbeaten run
On another glorious floodlit night for rugby, the Moles once again welcomed the London Ambulance Service representative team, led by the Moles’ own Brian ‘Elbo’ Williams, for a keenly fought match on the hallowed turf that is the 1st team pitch at Rectory Field.
Anticipating a match perhaps a few levels higher than Moles are usually engaged in, skipper Elvis had assembled a large decent looking squad in the days before the match only to see the battery on his phone run dead during the daylight hours of Wednesday as it pinged with withdrawal after withdrawal. A lesson in captaincy for Elvis: Never let on that you’ve got ‘loads’!
Nonetheless, the remaining familiar faces in the recent Moley ranks were buoyed by current and former first team starlets in Gary Gray, Dave Dorton and Aaron Raynor, Jamie Freeman from New Ash Green, a returning to the game Fred Lines (who looking for a gentle 10/20mins and ended up playing 80!) and the Gannets’ Ben Baker and Matt Abbott.
With Elvis delayed in arriving for kick off, club shopkeeper Oaf stepped up to lead the Moles on the pitch for a match that saw them strike first blood through Aaron Raynor. However, despite the talent across the Moles’ back line, the LAS clearly had the upper hand in the forwards; not least with a front row featuring Goliath, Hagrid and a big chap with a night off from pantomime and thus free to climb down his beanstalk for a game of rugby. Comparatively light in the pack largely due to cry-offs, the Moles valiantly put up a fight in the scrum; trying various combinations to support the props holding up hooker, Heinz who was (unusually for him) being flipped up and down like a player on a bar football game! Heinz’s frustration boiled over at one point, drawing out his best ‘Scrappy Doo’ impression (“Pudd’em up!”) and fronting up to the young LAS tighthead who is so young he seemingly still needs his dad to chaperone him from the touchline. Velcro, of course, was right in the middle of this melee absolutely loving it. However, Velcro didn’t look quite so happy when asked to help out in the LAS second row later in the game; having to put his head between Goliath and The Giant’s ample thighs. “Fe fi fo fum” and all that!! To be fair though, Velcro made a decent show of himself playing for the oppo.
Despite his frustration at scrum time, Heinz was throwing well into the line out and thanks both to the organisation of the pack in open play by half backs Gray and Dorton, and the pace in the back line; the Moles kept hold of their lead.
However, some first class play from the impressive LAS centre (a former £200 per match ‘boot money’ player from South Wales) and multiple Mole breaches of discipline behind the ‘back foot’, allowed Elbo to exploit a gap in the LAS defensive line from a penalty 10 metres out, ultimately seeing the Moles change ends 5-12 down. Another first half blow for the Moles was the loss of Dave Dorton to a knee injury.
But the Moles spirit is strong and the second half initially saw an increase in urgency and tempo that first saw Aaron Rayner complete a brace of tries and then Paddy, after some great trademark Moles’ forward play, place the ball over the LAS try line. This took the Moles into a 17-12 lead.
Unfortunately, the Moles resurgence was short-lived and alongside the further loss of Jamie Rayner to injury, the LAS responded quickly to restore their edge on proceedings at 19-17. The Moles continued to battle hard for the remainder of the game but always found themselves thwarted by the LAS defence and arguably some ‘too by-the-book’ refereeing decisions compared to what they are used to at their normal level. Probably, the man-of-the-match across both sides, the aforementioned LAS centre was responsible for five of the final seven points of the match, which saw the LAS finish as 17-26 winners.
Proceedings then moved onto the bar, where all agreed that is had been a good, hard game of rugby and great start to the Christmas season. After giving the initial thanks to the LAS, the late arriving Elvis, handed over ceremonials to Oaf; which saw Gary Gray on the chair for sartorial infringements, Paddy for being the Moles’ man-of-the-match and Welshy for being ‘Wednesday’s Richard’.
One or two Christmas ales were drunk to wash down the fine fayre cooked and served up by Mole Skid and Mole Keenan; not only to feed the players but also to sell to spectators and raise funds for the 2018 GRFC Mini and Youth Section tour.
Proof once again, for those silly enough not to believe in Santa, that the Moles is something much much more than just a rugby team!