Billingham Thirds 33 Stags 21

By Carlo Robinson - February 3 2020
Billingham Thirds  33 Stags 21 As part of the new coaching structure for the senior sides, it was the privilige of myself and Ian Wilson to take a newly enthused stags side through to table toppers Billingham.

The day started in a pleasantly surprising way by not having to spend all morning chasing players to make sure they were playing...they were just there and ready to go and in good numbers.. including a late cry on from Craig Hadwen once he had finished meal deal 3 from sicillianos.

The squad is starting to take shape of how a stags team should look with a good mixture of youth and experience, a great way for some of last years and this years acadamy prospects to adapt to senior rugby. Indeed 7 of the side were under the age of 19 which bodes very well for the future of the club.

We started with what was a very strong wind at our backs but didn't really take advantage of this and perhaps gave the bigger more experience Billingham pack to much respect in the first 20 mins where they went into a 7 point lead through some strong carries. We stuck to task and grew into the game once we realised that we were more than a match in contact and also at scrum time with Charlie Caswell and young Hutchie belieing their years against much more experienced opposition. We equalised with some excellent forward play lead by Carl Miller on his return from injury a few weeks back. Capping off an excellent overall performance young Jack Harrison finished off an excellent spell of play involving great hands from the youngest of the Painter brothers Jordan. This is the first time I've seen him and Jack play for a while and their progress is very impressive.

We scored next through the elder man of the stags Liam Larkin, whom at the age of I think 68 made more tackles than most of the pack put together. His homemade GPS tracker, he informs me, recorded he covered nearly 6 kilometres in 60 minutes!!! Impressive maybe but I did about the same travelling to and from the game.....but that was in the car!

The match continued to be pretty even and the only real area we fully dominated was in the lineout..with a very impressive display from young Bulmer making excellent use of his 9ft 3 frame to secure all of his own ball and spoil the majority of Billinghams. Billingham equalised to put the score to 14-14 with kickers from both teams looking good off the T..quinny must have been practicing inbetween moaning and asking loads of questions. He and Dash 'raw tofu' Thomas managed the game well throughout as the half back pairing with the newly converted sliver vegan making many telling breaks throughout. Great to see him back and playing even if he no longer eats meat.

A scrum in the final 5 minutes of the half was won against the head and to his disbelief, Miller found himself ball in hand on the ten metre line. He showed a good turn of pace and some good hand offs he scored under the posts. It's not clear if his hand offs made contact or the defenders saw his hands, which can only be described as a gypsies nightmare, and thought better of it. The ginger cornflake converted 14-21 at HT.

We were now against the increasingly strong wind and 10 minutes in the lively Billingham scrum half scored a great individual try, again converted to take the score to 21-21. We tried to run the ball at every opportunity as kicking for touch was futile in the wind. However, a combination of some dubious penalty decisions, handling errors and good keep ball from Billingham, made it difficult to keep possession and ultimately get out of our own half.

Billingham's forwards kept the ball tight and played to their strengths, scoring two more tries, converting one leaving the final score 33-21. The game was very well matched and will be a very good learning curve for our young players and hopefully will give them confidence in their ability to play rugby against bigger, experienced opposition. Playing in a settled side on a weekly basis with players like Dash, Toddy, Miller, Larkin and Moss will help us to continue to develop the stags into a great environment to bring our youth into senior rugby. Well done fellas..onto next week.

Nice to see Peter Youll who started for Bill first team..he popped in the changies before and after to wish the lads well.

Food: Pie, Peas and gravy..decent 7/10
Try Scorers: Harrison, Larkin, Miller
Cons: Quinn 3/3

Highlight: Simmo finished nights in London, got the train from kings cross, disembarked at billingham and set off walking to the ground. Crazy Craig was driving to the game, saw Simmo, beeped, waved and carried on driving to the ground, leaving Simmo to finish his journey on foot!!


Painter. J