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Mistley 2 v Aldeburgh - 5th November

Mistley 41 Aldeburgh 32

It all started so well

The rain held off. We had a full team plus a couple of subs and another couple of guys from Ipswich YM along to help out. First starts for a couple of the new group of twenty something players who have joined this season. Plus a mate who was visiting who “was quite good but hadn’t played for a couple of years”. After a great start, the course of the game was altered by a series of unfortunate injuries.

The optimism was tempered by the fact that the Mistley pack was enormous. Aldeburgh would have to rely on quick ball and speed. Within five minutes they did just that. Our forwards were livelier, driving forward to the Mistley 22, forcing a couple of penalties. The ball was moved out to the visiting mate, standing in for the injured Ed Robson at fly half, who simply jinked through for the first try then calmly drop kicked the conversion. “Quite good”, eh. Maybe more than that.

The weight of the Mistley pack carried them deep into the Aldeburgh half. Brave defending held them up over the line which now leads to a drop out from the try line. The visiting mate put it into touch on half way. The next score came after ten minutes’ play when Aldeburgh had advanced to the Mistley 22 and gained a penalty. Exactly as last week, James Ledger took a quick tap and drove forward to score in the corner. The conversion was missed. The visiting mate had some limitations.

There was no getting away from the weight and power of the Mistley pack which led to the next score when they rumbled a maul over the line from a line out. Soon after, Aldeburgh got a chance to move the ball wider when Robert Poll, on the wing this week, collected a clearance kick, ran and kicked into the Mistley half. Ben Watts, new player at full back, led the chase. The ball was recycled and Robert placed a miss pass out to Adam Hateley, the other winger who used his pace and power to go over in the corner.

Towards the end of the half, after Mistley had deconstructed the Aldeburgh scrum, Aldeburgh still managed to get the ball away. A penalty for a high tackle was kicked to touch deep in the Mistley half. The Aldeburgh line out, which had been reliably effective last week but had been messy so far in this game, worked smoothly, providing quick ball to the visiting mate in some room. He ran through the Mistley defence from outside the 22 for his second try. However, in scoring the try he damaged a muscle and took no further part in the game. The conversion was missed but Aldeburgh held the lead by 22-5. Even without the visiting mate, it was a lead which we looked able to hold onto.

Almost from the restart we lost another player. Chris Berry, who had been making a forceful contribution in the second row, twisted his ankle and had to come off. The two Ipswich YM guys came on at that point. There still seemed little danger until an attacking kick by Mistley took an outrageous bounce away from the Aldeburgh defender and straight into the hands of a Mistley player who was able to dot down under the posts making the conversion straightforward.

Half time: Mistley 12 Aldeburgh 22.

Aldeburgh seemed unsettled by the injuries and the forced changes of position. Early in the second half, a Mistley centre suddenly emerged from some tight play near the half way line to have an unopposed run to the try line. The conversion took them to within three points.

Mistley continued to use their forward advantage with many phases of forward play, eventually grinding Aldeburgh down until another try was scored taking Mistley into the lead for the first time at 26-22. Then Adam Hateley had to depart, having injured his knee, swiftly followed by Lewis Wardell Bird with a bang on the head. Lewis had been having another quietly effective game in the back row. By now, we were relying on Mistley to supply a replacement.

It seemed that the luck was all going Mistley’s way when they finally put the ball out to their backs, a high pass was fumbled backwards, straight into the hands of a player looping behind which gave him the space to run round and score. With Mistley confident, their forwards dominant and Aldeburgh all over the place, it looked as though the last 15 minutes could be difficult.

Aldeburgh held in there. It was good to see our own subs making an impact. Lee Buckle literally so; Jono Overbury looking lively in the backs, including providing the try scoring pass to Matt Elias who demonstrated his adaptability by switching from prop to centre. This took the score to 31-27 to Mistley.

Robert Poll had also come off with a bad knee by now, leaving Aldeburgh a man down for the rest of the game. Despite everything, they bounced back. Jon Hunt, normally No 8 but playing in the backs today, put in a long, raking kick which was well chased resulting in an Aldeburgh line out on the Mistley 22. It was messy but eventually cleaned up with the ball provided to the backs. From the ruck, play switched left to new hooker, Elliott Clarke-Gifford, playing, he reports, his first match for twelve years. He saw a gap, put his foot on the gas and raced through to score from the 22. Unfortunately, an overeager Mistley defender also slid in from the opposite direction smashing into Elliott’s chest. Last seen with a beer in his hand in the clubhouse, he should be alright but he certainly took no further part in the match.

This took Aldeburgh back into the lead, albeit only by one point. There was still at least five minutes to play. Inevitably, play moved into the Aldeburgh half. Just as we seemed to have turned over a ruck in front of the posts to relieve the pressure, the referee blew for a penalty which was kicked to give the lead back to Mistley. Aldeburgh didn’t have much left. The Mistley juggernaut continued to roll until finally their huge prop collapsed over the line. The conversion took the score to 41-32 which was the final score.

It was a cracking game to watch. Great to see Aldeburgh come back into it towards the end despite everything but six injuries was too much to deal with.


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