Bucks 53 City 15

By Chris Harrison - November 29 2009
Bucks 53 City 15
Mallinson West Bucks entertained Durham City III in a friendly at Brinkburn. The conditions were perfect for rugby, soft underfoot but a still, cool day. The Bucks needed to get back on track after having failed to raise a team a fortnight ago away to Tynedale and then going out of the cup.
Before the game it was agreed to dispense with the club ‘game plan’ and just play a high speed game playing to the high skill levels in the team and to run the opposition off the park.
The Bucks started like a house on fire and on 3 minutes centre Phil Henderson snuck over blind from a quick ruck after a break from full back Mark Pearce (Fly Half Luke Mallinson converted) 7-0.
Henderson was to prove a constant thorn in the City defence as his thrusts put his backrow on the offensive time after time throughout the game.
On 6 minutes excellent controlled play allowed Pete Considine in the unaccustomed position of 2nd row to take a ball off Mallinson at fly half and step the defence to dive over (12-0).
City may have been stunned up to this point but they came back strongly and earned a penalty after West were caught offside (12-3).
Then on 21 minutes they produced a tremendous controlled catch and drive from a line out on the home 22 to pull 5 further points back (12-8).
However West won a quick penalty from the kick off to extend their lead (Mallinson) 15-8.
City had arrived with a big strong pack and during the 1st half they were able to make this tell. So on 34 minutes there was no surprise when they produced a terrific scrummage to push the Bucks over for a pushover try (15-15).
The Bucks finished the half on top when on 37 mins some tremendous pressure from flanker Ben Glaister-Smith turned City ball over and as it was moved wide again the stepping 2nd row Considine dived over. Mallinson converted (22-15).
Half Time 22-15.
If the Bucks new tactics were to pay dividends then it was to be during the 2nd half. The game so far had been played at a terrific pace, far quicker than normal 3rd team games and City had done well to match it.
City started the 2nd half well and were unlucky not to score as West defended stoutly. Firstly prop Karl Graham and then 2nd row Michael Robson particularly put in a massive hits in this period to prevent tries.
The young 2nd row played by far and away his best game of the season as he controlled kick off receipts and put himself around and let his size do the talking.
West broke free from this period of pressure to dominate the rest of the game. They grew into the new game plan and played some impressive rugby.
Winger Nige Bulmer was the 1st to benefit when he went over wideout 5 mins into the 2nd half (27-15).
Next prop Paul Dove dived over after another tremendous passage of play involving several breakdowns. Mallinson converted (34-15).
20 minutes into the half a tap penalty seemed to have gone awry before Considine picked it up to power over (39-15).
West were now in control and as Pearce burst into the line from full back his kick through was chased down by impressive centre Andy Hare to touch down. Mallinson converted (46-15).
25 minutes into the 2nd half flanker Jonny Wright charged down a clearance kick and pounced on the ball to score. Mallinson converted (53-15).
Due to a late kick off the ref now called time as the light faded.
This really was an excellent performance by the Bucks, City had a big powerful pack and 1st phase ball was at a premium for the Bucks but there was plenty of ball to be won elsewhere by the West Back row led by skipper Paul Oliver.
Debutant scrum half Dan Quinn had a fine game as he provided consistent ball to the backs and stepped up to the demands of Bucks rugby.
Special thanks to hooker Ryan O’Connor, back from the RAF for the last 2 weeks, who put in his normal hard nosed, no quarter given performance.