The teams lined up with the past team represented by Sammy Smith, Ian Davies, Gordon David, Neil Bamsey, Neil Roberts, Stuart Mort, Lee Marshall, Matthew Daniels, David Charles, Adrian Hill, Mark Jackson and Darren Evans.
The present and future team included Sam Hives, Ryan Coslett, Ben Alexander, Spud, Ryan Miles, Dominic Carrol, Macaully Carrol, Rugby Rhys and future team member Daniel Evans, son of Paul who had the unenviable task of refereeing this long awaited grudge match. There were some noticeable absences from Luke Pearson, Dan Blethyn, Andrew Parfitt and Beefy where nerves must have got the better of them.
Now for the keen ones amongst us, you will note that the past team had 12 players and the present only 9, a stat both the present team and the referee failed to notice until the second half.
Old heads one step ahead from the start.
The changing room banter from the past team soon stopped when some of the present team walked passed on their way out to warm up before kick off, and the size of the task as well as the size of Spud was realised.
After some stern words with ourselves and inspiration taken from Dai Charles putting a bandage around his head to look like a throwback from the welsh teams of the 70’s, we then headed out to great applause from the vast crowd that had gathered to watch this long awaited match, with the last past v present match being played 3 years ago.
The weather was cold, wet and windy and whoever had the wind advantage would be in a good position, so after a quick chat with the ref, it appeared the past team had one the toss and the teams switched sides. Superb refereeing.
The present team kicked out and the past team ran it straight back, breaking tackles and heading down to their 22, before losing the ball and we could only watch as the Present team ran the ball back, passing quickly to get an overlap and Ryan Coslett had the ball, looked like he would score before Speedster Stuart Mort came across from his opposite wing, but Coslett cut inside a flailing pathetic tackle by Mort and he was under the posts. Present team up one try to nil and Mort not happy.
Over the next 5 minutes there was some barbarian style rugby from both sides with old scrum half Sammy Smith matching the darting runs of whipper snapper Daniel Evans, but only time would tell how long this could be kept up for.
The past team were now feeling the pace, but were awarded a penalty where courageous Lee Marshall saw the red mist come down and as he took a quick penalty, the rest of his team watched on helpless as he ran straight at big Sam Hives, who promptly picked him up in some kind of spear tackle last seen in hand to hand combat in the film Zulu. The ref had no option but to yellow card bully boy Hives for a full minute, only to the disgust of his father who was not happy with the refs decision as he looked on from the touchline, although he should have been playing in the past team!!!. Present down to 8, Past still at 12.
There was a scrum awarded to the past team deep in their half, the front row of Gordon David, Ian Davies and Lee Marshall brought back memories of the Ponty front row back in the day, winning the scrum, quick ball came to Mort who made a break, got tackled, presented the ball as what can only be described as perfection for Darren Evans to pick it up and run straight 50 yards for a try. One try each.
At the restart, Ryan Miles kicked out straight for Mort to catch and as he saw a mismatch with Spud running up in the centre, took the opportunity to run outside him, and create an overlap and passed the ball on to hard running Neil Bamsey who done the rest. Several seconds after the ball had been passed by Mort, Rugby Rhys finally caught up with play and flattened Mort with a tackle that was so late, even the ref missed it. 2 tries to one now to the Past team.
At the restart the ball came to Darren Evans who ran it straight back and went the full length of the pitch for an outstanding try, 3 tries to one now, and with the some excellent refereeing that saw any 50/50 decision going the past teams way and any attack by the present team thwarted due to superb interpretation of the laws, the Past team were in front. Three tries to one.
But true to form, the present team bounced back with a great try I think by Mcauley Carroll to close the gap. Three tries to two.
The past team were benefiting from the additional players and the conditions, and tnheir hard work paid off with Darren Evans who could still be playing competitive rugby and one I would nag to if he wasn’t going into hospital for a knee op in January, scoring another try – his third
At the restart, the ball was kicked deep into the Present half, and flying winger Roberts pounced on it, then seemed to fumble it and crawl on all fours for a good yard or ten to try and get downward pressure on it. Referee deciding this was knocked on, much to the frustration of the crowd and Roberts whose son was watching from the touchlines on his birthday. With arms flapping at the speed of light, he returned back to the defensive line as a scrum was awarded and the first half came to a close after around 25 minutes play.
The second half would be a different story as the wind would now be in the favour of the present team.
They kicked deep and the ball came to 70’s throwback Dai Charles who hearing chants of show them how to do it, completed multiple goose steps in a David Campese style as he ran the ball straight back at them. At some point the ball was kicked ahead only to be picked up by Man Mountain Spud. As he dived on the ball and then got back to his feet in one motion, he eyed up the past defence, and like the bull in a bullfight arena, Steam came down his nostrils and he ran full pelt at the waiting Matador Mort who was waiting to tackle him, unfortunately for Mort, he was well and truly trampled over and although slowed down Spud, it took support from his teammates to stop Spud, Mort being dragged ten yards while holding onto Spuds foot.
The present team now benefiting from the conditions put the pressure on the past team who were now tiring and some walking around with their hand in their pockets, exhausted.
The ball came to Matthew Daniels who was under severe pressure and in his first ever game of rugby with little support from a tiring team had his kick charged down and the Present team scored. Score now 4-3 to past.
With a quiet word to the ref, the 2 minutes warning came up, in a second half that seemed to go a lot quicker than the first half!!!
After about another 10 seconds the ref called the game to an end before the end came for the past team.
A good match, played in good spirit, and with good friends, a good time was had by all, and we all had a good drink and watched the band in the afternoon
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