A loss but cobwebs well blown off
Old heads and young legs come off second best
The first game of season is always a suitable opportunity to blow off the cobwebs and assess where we are in terms of numbers and fitness, especially when it is a friendly. The Devs fielded a true representation of the club with an almost equal split of over 35 year old “seasoned” club members (mostly in the forwards) and younger players. With a very relaxed warmup and easing into the game, the Devs, under John Murawski’s captainship started to get those rusty cogs moving as they felt out the abilities of the Belsize Park team.
It is safe to say that the lack of rugby over the summer and the soft warm up showed during the game especially with regards to getting round the pitch and fully completing some of the attacking moves. A positive was that the Devs had a solid pack leading to some strong performances in the scrums and lineouts and Max Sharp, as scrum half, successfully controlled the delivery to the backs. With a couple of spirited runs from the backs, the Devs soon put a score on the board with a great try by Dan Vogel, unfortunately not converted. Tackling was largely another positive as OAs made it very difficult for any Belsize player to gain too much ground forcing them to utilise their (fairly handy) kicker to try and place the ball deeper into OA territory. James Prince as fullback worked overtime and brilliantly covered these shots and had a few storming runs down the pitch, at one point running a third of the pitch through about half the Belsize team one by one!
Not to be outshone by his brother, Matt Vogel scored the game’s second try meaning that we were 10 - 7 up at the start of the second half but the heat and lack of fitness had evidently caught up and the intensity turned down a couple of notches, leading Belsize to come back with a converted try. In the final 20 minutes, following a spirited pep talk by some of the more seasoned members of the team the Devs intensified their game and started punching through the Belsize lines and heavily pushing forward but sadly ran out of time, close to the try line leaving us with a 10- 14 loss.
The Devs definitely had the ability to win this game and now that some areas of improvement have been clearly identified they will hopefully have a solid foundation to build on once the league starts. Score line aside it was a competitive game and it was largely good natured (apart from a brief strop due to a “misunderstood” tackle on an OA!) and this continued over a well-deserved barbeque and a few beers afterwards.