September 25th, 2016

Dads and Lads win festive encounter

THE ‘DADS and Lads XV’ enjoyed a 12-10 victory over the ‘Best of the Rest’ in Alcester RFC’s annual Boxing Day game.

The match featured its usual mix of veterans making their latest playing return, university student returnees and youngsters making their first forays into senior rugby alongside more established and regular players.

The format took a slightly different form this season as a side made up entirely of fathers and sons from the rugby club narrowly defeated another club side in a contest that was as even as the scoreline suggests.

The Dads and Lads squad featured club stalwart and life member Nick O’Connor and his five lads including club captain Jack Green, Neil Johnson and his three sons, former chairman Pete Goddard and his two, as well as Mike and Steve Walmsley, club coach Keith Beech and his son Adam and Andy and Kyran Flynn.

The game was refereed by another club member – Phil Birks – for the opening quarter, with society official Kyran Flynn swapping places with Birks midway through the first half.

On a heavy pitch and with the wind and slope at their back in the opening exchanges, the ‘rest’ took the lead with a score through Lewis Walker, before the Dads and Lads side hit back.

Seventeen-year-old Tom Goddard jinked and stepped his way through a static Best of the Rest defence to round off a brilliant individual score between the posts in his first ever game of senior rugby.

The sides turned around level at 5-5 and, now with their elements at their back in the second half, it was the Dads and Lads side’s turn to claim the ascendancy.

They went in front when another 17-year-old senior debutant – Josh O’Connor – broke well before finding his brother George Green in support who crashed over the line. Green converted his own try.

The Best of the Rest finished strongest in the final quarter and Josh Eborall scored his side’s second try, which made for a keenly fought final quarter, particularly as the Best of the Rest side had two players yellow-carded in the last few minutes of the game.

First to go was Nick O’Connor who, not for the first time in his career, had deliberately and illegally spoiled the opposition ball. He was followed by try-scorer Tom Goddard, who was sin-binned for a deliberate offside.

The Dads and Lads side closed out the game to claim the win on what was an extremely enjoyable day at Kings Coughton.

The undoubted high point was the performance of all three 17-year-olds making their first senior appearances as Tom Goddard, Josh O’Connor and Steve Walmsley all acquitted themselves well against older and more experienced opposition.

At the opposite end of the rugby career scale, Nick O’Connor and Keith Beech both showed they had lost none of their competitive ability – particularly at the breakdown – with the latter playing his first game for several years after having previously retired due to a knee injury.

Another high point was 67-year-old club veteran Simon Barugh coming on for the final ten minutes for what he claims is his last ever game of rugby. That remains to be seen!

Alcester 1st XV return to competitive action when they visit Northampton Men’s Own in round three of the Midlands Junior Vase on Saturday.

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