3rd XV Enjoy a Bonus Point Win at Home to Cooke 2nd XV in a Shawsbridge Derby

Following four weeks on the road, Saturday saw the 3rd XV return to Shawsbridge for the first weekend since the end of January to face Cooke 2nd XV in a home league match.

In December when these two teams met, Cooke came away as convincing winners as they romped to victory with a margin of forty points. Despite falling to this heavy defeat the 3’s still managed to salvage an important four try bonus point. Since December’s defeat the 3’s have gone on to win five matches, draw one and have suffered only one narrow defeat.

With Decembers result in mind, the squad were determined to avenge that defeat, and put in a performance to get a result which would consolidate their mid table position in the league.

The mild conditions on Saturday were perfect for running rugby, with a firm pitch and only a slight breeze blowing across the pitch.

From the kick off Cooke started with more energy and showed their intent as they made use of their bigger pack, driving around the fringes before releasing their inside backs into midfield in an attempt to breach the Instonians defence.

It was the Instonians defence who came out on top after these initial exchanges, making important tackles and limiting the Cooke momentum. Eventually this good defence resulted in a spilled ball in midfield which was quickly snapped up by Instonians who set of on a counter attack from the half way line. First James Poland fed Joe Fryers who exchanged several passes with younger brother Sam, taking play deep into the Cooke twenty two. With the pressure mounting, the back pedalling Cooke defence conceded a penalty in front of their posts. With the simple three points on offer Richard Maguire stepped up to convert taking Instonians into a 3-0 lead with five minutes played.

Shortly after the restart Cooke were awarded a penalty which, was kicked deep into the Instonians twenty two. From the resulting lineout Cooke set up a well-controlled driving maul, which they eventually took over the line to score their first try of the match. The successful conversion brought Cooke back into the game 3-7.

Almost immediately from the kick off, Cooke were penalised and the home team were awarded a penalty just inside Cooke’s half of the pitch. Seeing the opportunity, the home team took a quick tapped penalty and drove at the retreating Cooke defence. Showing great strength and deceptive pace, Aaron Davis broke clear to score the home team’s first try of the match. The successful conversion saw Instonians retake the lead, 10-7.

This lead wasn’t to last, as soon after the kick off, Instonians once again conceded a penalty within kicking range. Choosing to take the points Cooke were back on level terms 10-10.

The match was now beginning to open up as both teams showed that they were determined to keep the ball alive.

From a scrum in mid field, Aaron Davis who was beginning to have a big impact on the game, broke from the base of the scrum, taking play behind the Cooke defence. Quick recycled ball made its way to Richard Maguire who put in a clever chip kick which sat up just short of the Cooke line. Good following up by the Instonians backs forced the Cooke defender to carry the ball over his own line, leading to a five meter scrum to Instonians.

From the Scrum the home team used their runners around the fringes to tie in the Cooke defenders. With space freed up out wide, the ball was moved across the back line to Scott Croft who had a simple run-in to score his side’s second try. Once more Richard Maguire stepped up and successfully made the difficult conversion extending the home teams lead to 17-10, which was to be the final score as the referee soon blew for half time.

Half Time 17-10

The second half began with Cooke on the front foot taking the game to Instonians and play deep into the home team’s defensive area, pushing for the next score. However; it was the Instonians defence which stood firm, repelling the Cooke attacks and eventually forcing a turnover ball five meters out from their own line. It was the Instonians exit strategy which led to the next score.

From the scrum, Joe Fryers took a flat pass at pace close to the scrum. Breaching the first up tacklers, Joe made good ground taking the play outside the defensive twenty two meter line. From this position the home team showed some great skills, as the backs and forwards combined well to take play deep into the Cooke half of the pitch.

With the Cooke defence struggling to contain the attacks, they were guilty of an infringement on their twenty two meter line. With the referee playing advantage the home team took advantage of a free play. Moving the ball from left to right Jonny Harding received the ball in the out half position. As Jonny shaped up to chip the ball behind the Cooke defence, the home team coach exclaimed, “My word Jonny that may not be the best option”, or words to that effect. Alas Jonny ignored the pleas from the touch line and dually chipped the ball towards the Cooke goal line. As the Instonians bench looked to the heavens, Jonny like all good hookers, followed up his chip. The retreating defence appeared to have the situation under control, however, the bouncing ball caught them out as it was fumbled and dropped behind the line, only for the Jonny to pounce on the ball, claiming an unexpected try, (Oh how the coach was made to eat his words). With the conversion missed the score moved to 22-10.

Instonians were now on the ascendency and beginning to play with some great confidence, as they controlled the game and continued to play fifteen man rugby with all players confident on the ball and showing a range of skills.

This dominance soon led to yet another Instonians try as Aaron Davis again broke through the Cooke defence on the blind side following some excellent continuity play between the forwards and backs. The conversion again fell short as the lead was extended to 27-10.

Instonians had their tails up now. Excellent recycling and continuity work by the team saw all the players keen to take the ball on. Darryl Smith having an excellent game, led the way making crucial yards, setting up go forward ball.

From one such charge, the ball was taken on by Rab Brown, Richard Fannin and Dan Lindsey, who found Sam Fryers cutting an excellent line to break clear of the Cooke defence. With one man to beat Sam timed his pass perfectly to Robert McGibbon, who raced in to score Instonians next try under the posts. The simple conversion took the home team into a 34-10 lead.

With the result all but decided, Instonians as has been the case all too often this season, were guilty of showing poor discipline at the breakdown, as they began to concede penalty after penalty. Eventually Cooke scored their second try of the match following a cross field kick. The successful conversion brought the score to 34-17.

With the match now in the final minutes, the home team pressed for a final try, and were rewarded when Robb Barnes forced his way over close to the touch line. The missed conversion left the final score 39-17.

Full Time 39-17

The 3’s squad on Saturday played some of their best rugby of the season against a very capable Cooke 2’s. Going forward with ball in hand the skills on show were excellent, resulting in some fantastic trys score. In defence the work rate showed real commitment to defend their line playing against a powerful Cooke attack.

Although there are numerous positives to take away for Saturdays match, the squad’s poor discipline was frustrating for all involved, and it is an area where we have struggled for large parts of the season. To the squads credit they have acknowledged this and are determined work to put it right moving towards the end of the season.

Thank you to our neighbours Cooke for the match on Saturday which was played in Great Spirit. Cooke 2’s are a very good side and are capable of playing some great rugby, which is reflected by their current league position.

Thanks also to Saturday’s referee whose decision making was consistent throughout. Despite the high penalty count, the ref allowed an entertaining game of rugby to take place.

Squad 1-18: Jonny Harding, Dan Lindsey, Richard Fannin, Ryan Hickland, Darryl Smith, James Poland (FR), Rab Brown(C), Aaron Davis, Gavin Oakes, Ashley Black, Scott Croft, Richard Maguire, Joe Fryers, Jerome Hannan, Sam Fryers, Robb Barnes, Finlay Bodel, Robert McGibbon.