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Finsbury Park @ Cretan Gunners Match Report

Finsbury Park @ Cretan Gunners Match Report

John Musson26 Apr 2023 - 22:05
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There was rugby on tour…

By Mitch Scott

Sunday 23rd April (Crete, Greece) – The Mighty Fins clashed with the immense Gunners on a beautiful sunny Crete afternoon, playing an unforgettable rugby match in front of a big, boisterous home crowd. The match will be remembered for being a physical clash of hungover Brits abroad and strong, passionate Cretans. The boys didn’t let their weekend of overindulging in Mythos, raki and gyros stop them from showing up with a desire for big hits, bigger carries, and a slick end to a great season.

The game started with a shaky kick off from the black and white Gunners and an even shakier return. Pressure mounted early on the Fins with the Gunners inside our 22 and running hard early, but Max and Danny had woken up before the rest of the Park and some solid defence led to a Fins’ pen. The field was flipped after Jay showed off some fancy footwork and made a nice break from our scrum. The Fins looked to their captain for an early carry, but he was met, crunched, and dominated by his opposing leader, Antonis. Frustrated and not used to being made to look so small, Urban may or may not have used the ball to punch Antonis, who soon had to retire from the game after catching a stray boot to the head and splitting his eyebrow open. Our own Sam soon followed him as heatstroke and hangover from the beach Olympics got the best of the Welshman. After all the chaos Fins won a scrum inside Gunners 22 with strong front row - Moran, Charlie and Callum - showing dominance early. Some nice hands and a strong carry from Charlie put Max over for the first try of the afternoon.

Gillham converted: 0-7

The game resumed with a much better Fins return from the kick off. Will put in a big step, avoided contact (surprise!) and passed to Urban who made a big carry. The Fins 8-9-10 connection would remain strong throughout the match. Fraser ‘Fridge’ lived up to his tour nickname and stampeded into the Gunners, Harry followed up with a missile, which resulted in a Fins scrum 10 metres from the Gunners’ line. You could feel the intensity of the match and the physicality of both teams had increased. The Fins forwards came together to push the larger Cretan pack off the ball to the Gunners 5. From the back of the scrum, the ball went through the hands of Urban, Aslan, Will, and Harry to Jay on the wing who looked set to score in the corner but cutback at the last moment into the shifting defence. An offside play by the Gunners gave us a pen, and a quick tap by Will gave us a cheeky one in the right corner.

Gillham missed: 0-12

The first half resumed with strong defence from the Gunners who were physical in their tackles and put pressure on Fins within their 22. Gunners were rewarded after a knock-on gave them a scrum in great field position. Their gigantic 8 took it from the back of the scum and ran straight at Will in one of the biggest size mismatches of the day. Somehow Will forced a turnover and Toby made an impressive run down the wing to relieve pressure before being bundled into touch. Deshon, the Gunners 13, ran a great line from their throw and followed up a few plays later to run straight through the Fins backline as some beautiful ball play by Tychalas allowed him to score untouched. The home crowd erupted, and the stadium was pumping.

Conversion missed: 5-12

Fins kicked off and won a scum as the Gunners tried to clear their lines. A penalty quickly gave Fins great field position with a lineout at the 5. Some quick thinking off an average rolling maul and good hands from Aslan and Will put Harry through a big hole – tackled just a metre from the line. The Gunners defence recovered and was strong enough to force a turnover, but a rib tickling hit by Harry stopped their advantage. Charlie and Moran combined to win a Cretan scrum and then a strong carry by Max in the backline set up a cute Aslan-Will short side play finished by Toby in the corner. Shout out to Harry for a monster clean out in the build-up.

Gillham converted: 5-19

The game continued with Fins and Gunners trading physical blows. Fridge ran a huge line and bounced a Gunner before Ed got completely folded in half. The Gunner 8 took the ball from the back of a scum on a beautiful short side play before getting tackled by Muss inside the 22. Gunners won a penalty and after watching Muss and Will tackle the 8 again, Harry thought he’d give it a go too and got crunched for going high – he proceeded to tacky boot behind the try line. Off the penalty, Deshon decided to run straight through us and dragged multiple Park players across the try line to score. The crowd went crazy as the Gunners pulled within one try with some well-deserved points after a period of very physical play.

Converted: 12-19 Half Time

The Gunners carried over their physicality into the second half and looked to build on the momentum they had carried into the half. But given a chance to cool down and catch their breath at the half, the Fins were also up for a challenge. Fins won a scrum at halfway and Josh ran straight at the teeth of the Gunners’ defence. A pick and go from Urban and a nice offload from Moran brought Fins into the 22. Aslan, Will, Josh, Harry (maybe Max), Jay and Toby swung the ball from sideline to sideline and put Toby over in the corner - a real team try from Fins.

Gillham missed: 12-24

The Gunners earned a line out at the 22 attacking in. Three huge pick and gos later they were at the 5 and knocking on the door of another score. Fins’ defence bent but didn’t break. Big Jude Little’s nine gyros over the weekend had turned him into an immovable rock. Danny forced a huge knock-on and Harry’s big run off the scrum down the blindside temporarily relieved some pressure. As Durrell put it “This shit is crazy”. But moments later, Gunners earned a scrum and showed beautiful hands to score in the corner after a few offloads. Gunner, culture tour leader, and all round good guy John Ntoulis was the one to finish off a great team try. The Gunners showed that physicality and hard lines could earn them points.

Conversion missed: 17-24

After the restart, the Fins combined with beautiful hands down the short side – Will, Ed and Urban got the ball out to Harry on the sideline, who pinned his curly top back and aimed for the corner. Harry looked set to score but was taken out by Deshon, who channelled his inner American Footballer and shoulder charged Harry out across the sideline. It was a huge hit with no arms but apparently not worthy of a card. The crowd loved it. Will kicked the ball out at the 5 and everyone knew what would happen next. It was time for a Finsbury Park special – a beautiful rolling maul that was scored by Callum that had Charlie and Jude so pumped up it looked like their jerseys might burst.

Gillham converted: 17-31

Tensions were riding a bit high as the game restarted. It had been extremely physical from both sides, and it was hot. A Park penalty had the Fins back inside the attacking 22 and looking to score again but French Greg rallied his team, preaching discipline. This had an immediate effect as Bunny scored a full length try for the Crete boys. That guy could run, and left Toby looking for his ankles after the play. This spectacular run was somewhat overshadowed by Ed, who threw a tantrum rivalling Kepa Arrizabalaga when asked to come off. Sensing that our social sec’s toys weren’t going to stay in the pram, Musson the great diplomat took himself off instead. Special mention to our rookie ref, Birdseye, who kept control of the game and had a great day on the pitch.

Converted: 24-31

Finsbury Park looked hot and bothered with about 20 minutes left but knew that there were lukewarm Mythos and ciggies waiting for them on the sideline once the game was over. This certainly seemed to inspire Josh who was a counter-rucking machine in his bright boardshorts, as well as newbie Sean, who showed that he isn’t one to shy away from solid carries and big hits. Urban also had a hard run, while Charlie got boshed trying to follow suit. Some great hands from Fins put Josh over for a well deserved try. Will converted and had a stormer of a kicking game – place kicking, penalties, kicks in play, everything went right for him. It’s just a shame that he only figured out how to kick after the season ended.

Gillham converted: 24-38

Doulie, Onisiforos and Giorgi the Georgian made some big runs for Crete as they looked to gain field position off the kick off. Jay made a huge tackle that must have put a smile on even the sourest of faces. Will made a great run – he threw a lovely dummy but wasn’t able to avoid contact completely and got brought down at the 5. Harry attempted a cross-field kick that went backwards and relieved pressure for the Gunners – I don’t think he had a kicking licence to begin with, but he certainly doesn’t have one now. But eventually the Finsbury forwards connected in the backline as Fridge popped the ball to Harry who offloaded to Max. The backs seemed to take note and swung the ball across the field. A great dummy and miss-pass from Will allowed Aslan to score on the final whistle.

Birthday boy Fridge converted: 24-45 Full Time

Huge thanks to the Cretan Gunners for giving us an incredible game and an even better weekend.

Final score: 24-45 (Finsbury Park)
Tries FP: Max, Will, Toby x2, Callum, Josh, Aslan
Tries Gunners: Deshon x2, Ntoulis, Bunny
FP Player of the Match: Will, Fraser
Gunners Player of the Match: Manalo, Nick, Giorgi the Georgian
FP Dick of the Day: Urban
Debutants: Sean

Further reading