Beccehamians 15 Moles 10
By Michael Murray
Moles return to 'coming second by 5 points' ways
On a more seasonably chilly, but nonetheless glorious, day for rugby; the Moles’ phenomenon headed down to Sparrow’s Den and home of Beccehamians RFC.
Despite having lost two props during the week amidst rumours of a pie sale at Greggs, the Moles’ remaining hungry prop and skipper Elvis had assembled a useful looking squad. This was a real benefit given that many of the usual, familiar, Beccs ‘Eclectics’ faces, including skipper Brett, appeared to be dressed in civvies, drinking beer and standing the wrong side of the white line! Oh and the Beccs’ vets, featuring the always very useful #8 from ‘The Hills Have Eyes’, had had their cup fixture pulled for the following day. Oh, and former Gravesend 1st XV skippers Mike Delay and Rob Bardell were also warming up in maroon, black and white. All in all; this was going to be a test. And no one knew about the refereeing at this point!
After the more, in recent times, transient rugby-playing Moles’ had cheesed each other off in the warm up by unnecessarily giving each other advice on technicalities beyond how the ball has to be passed backwards etc. the men in black received the ball from the kick off. Before either of the afternoon’s referees had made any attempt for the travelling players and entourage to question their parentage, the Moles quickly conceded their first penalty when Ork was forced to hold on while the rest of the pack looked on; seemingly chatting to one another: “Oh, isn’t it nice to see Ork playing again? Oh and Happy Birthday to you Mayhem. Did you get any nice presents?”
A slow starting pack was also no use to returning scrum half Nod; who despite now being entitled to a free bus pass, was the first to the breakdown time and time again in a typically energetic, ADHD influenced, first half performance; no doubt including the odd token attempt at raking ‘for old time’s sake’. Good to see the young man back in black!
Despite making it hard for themselves, the Moles defence stood up well to Beccs’ pressure in the first ten minutes of the match; ultimately ‘holding up’ an attempt at a try and clearing lines from a free kick they were awarded after the subsequent scrummage. Shortly afterwards, the Moles had their first attack of note: A Mole penalty was kicked to touch circa 35 metres from the Beccs line. A maul was set up from the lineout which marched the ball strongly towards the five metre line. The ball moved out for Carl Sells to attempt a dive towards the line only to be ruled as being ‘held up’ by the Beccs defenders. Unfortunately, Moles skipper and remaining ‘specialist’ prop Elvis had been ‘tickled’ in the aforementioned maul and was forced off the field with a rib injury. Fortunately Rob Bardell was able to negotiate his release to the Moles from his new posher mates earlier than the previously agreed ‘half-time’.
The first half continued as an evenly contested affair with notable Moley contributions from wing, Mick Terry letting his opposite number know ‘he was there’ with a couple of well-timed hits and the odd useful carry here and there; and also full back Connor Martin whose solid ball taking and hard running at gaps from depth was arguably the seed of the Moles’ biggest threats during the first half.
Velcro also deserves a mention for his commitment to maintaining his high penalty count; testing another referee’s knowledge of this season’s law changes by kicking through yet another ruck and coming in so far from the side at one ruck, he arrived still holding his bus ticket from Bromley.
Despite being solidly held by the Moles for most of the half, Beccs always looked like the most likely team to score and two late scores in the half saw the (even in 2019) fancy digital clubhouse scoreboard burn 12-0 in favour of the home side at the turn.
Wholesale half-time replacements are a feature of Moles’ rugby and as ever today was no exception. However, while part-braced for things to go ratchet; the introduction of Academy dad Rich Glover and Under 5s coach Marco Kleynhans as the new centre partnership, was whetting the appetites of those in the Moley entourage who knew what was potentially coming.
Those unfamiliar with these newer faces got with the programme pretty sharpish as both men got hold of the ball and started to punch through and threaten the gain line. Marco was the first to get on the score sheet with a barnstorming run that featured almost-balletic twists, turns and steps which, despite being carried out at a serious pace, appeared slow-motion like in the shoes of a 6’4”, 100 KG+ ‘unit’.
Unfortunately, despite the crossbar featuring a handy dip in the centre, Moles’ outside-half Carl Sells slotted the ball under it and hence play restarted with the score 12-5.
Who knows what was said in the Beccs’ huddle at half-time but with a not-undeserved 12-0 lead, one would have forgiven them for feeling rather ‘bullish’ as they approached the second half. The Moles’ changes at half time had clearly had an impact and maybe Beccs were unfazed by big Marco and Rich, but a decision by Beccs to take the points from a penalty under the posts suggested that they knew and respected that they were in a game here. Naturally, the decision to do this was jeered at by many on and off the pitch “…..in the spirit of the game” “……at this level” but it proved to be a good decision in the context of the final outcome game; not least as it gave the resurging Moles a bit more to think about in terms of their comeback plans. 15-5.
The Moles continued to press strongly for points to close the gap; predictably involving Glover and Kleynhans who initially combined exquisitely only for a seemingly NFL-worthy Beccs’ blocking move to fail to draw the referee’s concern and deny the former in joining his centre-partner on the score sheet. However, it was inevitable that the pair would get another chance and a similar combination shortly afterwards saw Rich cut a delightful line to collect from Marco and place down between the posts.
Game on! 15-12; eight or nine minutes left. Come on you Moles! Hold on. Did I say 15-12? Sorry reader, I still can’t believe Carl missed that kick. It was reminiscent of the famous (well, if you’re from t’north) of Wakefield Trinity’s man-of-the-match and RL legend, Don Fox’s miss in the 1968 Rugby League Challenge cup that literally gave the trophy Wakefield had just ‘won’ with a try scored in the last play of the match, right back to the Leeds players who were crying in goal area!
See for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eer30sfqgkk
This was unfortunate for Carl who had enjoyed another good game at 10 and who’s kicking from hand been effective all day. The days of “We don’t kick in Moles rugby seem dim and distant. 15-10.
The Moles continued to push in order to find the points to draw even and hopefully win but it just wasn’t their day in terms of the bounce of the ball and the ‘odd’ refereeing decision here and there. Beccs were value for the win nevertheless and their delighted cheers at the final whistle can at least give the Moles some comfort in knowing that they made their opposition work for it. With hindsight, there are plenty of ‘wouldas’ ‘shouldas’ and ‘couldas’ but every man-in-black put a shift in today – well done. A 1-3 season so far, is not what we wanted for the losing margins have been smaller than in previous seasons.
Mole-of-the-Match today was unsurprisingly Mr Kleynhans after his introduction changed the complexion of the game; although Rich Glover and Connor Martin were also strong contenders.
Back at HQ, with no senior rugby at Rectory Field today, it was down to the Moles to put their money behind the bar so the club can keep the lights on this week.
Proof once again, if you need it or not, that the Moles is something much much more than just a rugby team.