Moles 5 Dartfordians Sinners 40
Moles outfoxed by stronger than anticipated Sinners
On a glorious day for rugby, the Moles started their porcelain anniversary season by welcoming the Dartfordians’ Vs (aka ‘The Sinners’) to Rectory Field (or rather, the GGS Year 7 pitch!) for what, based on recent seasons, promised to be a close and entertaining match played in the spirit of social rugby.
Surprisingly, since Shitgun was on a rare away day from Moles rugby, events started off with the usual Percy Sugden-style organisational fups thanks to GRFC’s alfresco cooks, the U12 Spartan Dads, having left all their barbecue gear in home changing room three. With the finger firmly pointed at Lunch for many, both valid and trumped-up, reasons including being the Spartan’s head chef, being GRFC’s director of facilities and always being close to any fup! Typically, the Moles squad of 19 responded with 19 different solution proposals (including unpicking the lock of the gym using skills that skipper Elvis learned at school during his Merseyside childhood) each being executed in splendid isolation until Lunch suggested simply moving the barbecue kit out of the changing room. Genius!
With kick-off delayed until 14:10 due to the aforementioned fups, a ‘confident at the kick off’ Moles found themselves in usual territory at 14:11; behind their own posts! Deft Moley footwork to miss those important first tackles called for only two minutes earlier, saw the Darts return the ball down their right hand flank for their wing to run home.
Fortunately, an early deficit of either 0-5 or 0-7 is often what it needs to wake the Moles up and today was no exception. Getting their ‘up the jumper’ style of rugby in gear, the Moles mauled the ball to within sight of the line and after a couple of attempts to smash through the Darts defence, a gap in their line opened up for Lunch to dive through, visualising a pork chop in the in-goal area, and even things up.
With the game split into four quarters, at the twenty minute mark Elvis had little to say other than, “let’s keep this up lads!” As predicted, the game was shaping up to its competitive billing.
But then in the second twenty, things started to change. The well-respected and longstanding official, Mr Thatcher, made a number of decisions that niggled at the Moles and combined with the bounce of the odd-shaped ball seemingly always favouring the Darts, bred some ill-discipline within the Moles’ ranks.
There is of course nothing you can do about refereeing decisions and the bounce of the ball; but what the Moles did have control over was keeping to their successful game plan and critically supporting each other quickly both getting to and then within the contact area. Maybe it was a simple case of a lack of fitness on the Moles part; but the Darts appeared to have more appetite in these areas and hence began to dominate. It also emerged that Darts possibly had at least three or four players more familiar with playing their rugby at a higher level and who used the space the Moles were leaving open with devastating effect by adding a further four tries before next break.
Some harsher words from Elvis and vice Gareth Moore at half-time led to a much more better and more disciplined performance in the second half albeit with the continued frustration of dubious refereeing decisions and the bounce of the ball being unfavourable. The Moles got their tight, forwards-led game going and bit their collective lips. However, the extra quality in the Darts line up made the most of any fortune that presented itself and engineered their way through the more solid Moles defence.
So, a tough first day at the office in 2017/18 for the Moles. Positives included a Moles scrum that was dominant, a better performance at the line out and a storming first game of rugby since school from wing Graham; who only rocked up to training for the first time last Wednesday. Oaf, who usually runs out at lock, did a great job filling a gap at outside centre well and Lunch let some of the stronger Darts know he was there through his legendary ‘chop’ tackles; which he achieves by imagining a lamb chop on each of the ball carrier’s boot laces before leaping headfirst towards the ‘chop spot’ like a ravenous hound!
Many questions were asked in the changing room and bar afterwards about ‘stitch ups’, ‘dodgy decisions’, ‘passion’ ….yada, yada, yada! Yes, it could have been better and no doubt it will be. However, every Mole had enjoyed himself and now looked forward to the next match wearing the black shirt.
The final mention of the day must go to Dave ‘Posty’ Pattison who is now allowed to win Mole-of-the Match and be acknowledged as ‘really existing’ now that he is back in civvies. Another 110% effort and performance from open side wing forward Posty, who as always was as modest as the most gentlemen of gentlemen about his feats on the rugby pitch.
Via social media later that evening, Elvis mused that Moles rugby will evolve over the next season and beyond albeit driven by the Moles ethos and values that has served its fraternity and extended friends in rugby so well over the past twenty years. Indeed, as recent changes at our club have shown and the forthcoming Veloship tour to Ypres lie testament to undisputable fact that the Moles is, and always will be, something much much more than just a rugby team.