Author: Tom Birdseye
Saturday 23rd September – 2pm.
Bank Lane travelled to Fortress Downhills to face the mighty Fins in our first home game of the season (shout out to Gowing and Stewart-Phillips for getting the pitch looking so fresh).
Energy was high in the warm up and there was a tingle in the air as Park prepped for an unknown encounter against a team we hadn’t played for years.
The start of the game had a feel of early season – lots of back and forth between the teams with no real passages strung together or momentum built. An unfortunate ankle injury for McKay early doors led to a reshuffle of the Fins backline but the boys adapted well.
First blood unfortunately went to Bank Lane as FP poor discipline mounted and we gave away a tap penalty in our 22 that was spread wide – Bank Lane conversion. 0-7.
Park responded well and were able to put together a few phases with a lively looking opportunity down the right-hand side until skipper Coningham predictably knocked on. Joyce followed this up with a barnstorming break but then Park pens returned and Bank were able to string together a couple of wide phases, stretch our defence and break around the outside. Converted. 0-14.
Finsbury Park capitalised on a Bank sinbin for playing the man in the air and were able to put together our own run of nice wide phases allowing Birkett a half break on the outside which he sealed with a lovely step and score. Gillham converted. 7-14.
The new boys stepped up well with some great snaking runs from Shing, big carries from Harris in the centres and strong pack work from Crowie and Branford. Eventually, the ball was moved wide to Barton who elected not to pass to Birkett for a walk-in but instead run around the Bank players for a score in the corner before halftime. 12-14.
Fins started the second half poorly allowing Ban to score out wide early. Converted. 12-21.
Gillham then had a bit of a tantrum because their 8 kept hitting him late. Coningham (keen to keep his match report mentions positive) then pulled off an admittedly quite impressive round-the-back offload (completely unnecessary mind you because he had an easy outside pass option) and immediately came over to check that I had seen it and made a note (meanwhile play was continuing).
Another break from Joyce and good support from Della-Porta who offloaded to Branford for a diving finish in the corner. 17-21.
Park pack then showed their worth and had a strong driving maul from a lineout in the 22 – Gillham was able to sneak over for a score after a couple of grunt rhino calls. 22-21.
This then set us up nicely for the last play of the game.
Gameplan: collect ball, kick ball off pitch, celebrate a win.
Bank failed to kick the ball 10 so no need for us to play it and ref would blow the final whistle. IF ONLY. Joyce instead decided he fancied one more run so collected the ball and set up a ruck. Very well, we could just kick the ball out and end it there. NOPE. Allington then decides to pick up the ball, bottle it, and place it gently in the arms of the Bank Lane 10. FINE. A turnover then at the next ruck and kick the ball off, we’ll still be fine. WRONG AGAIN. We let them pass it wide a few times before giving away a pen in the 22, 15 metres wide of the post. Tense times ahead.
All FP hopes laid on Bank missing the kick so we could play it dead and finish up. The Bank 10 gave it a good effort, but the ball bounced off the post and into Stables’ waiting arms, at this point I was worried someone might attempt a 90 metre break and cough it up (a Campese special if you will - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOCN4dkyvp4) but thankfully the Bank players tackled our man first and ball went dead over the try line.
Final whistle – 22-21 to the Fins.
MoM to Francis Branford for excellent all-round contribution.
DoD to Ed Allington – no explanation needed.