Biggleswade 1st XV ground out another win26th March 2018
Biggleswade 20 Rushden & Higham 8
Biggleswade ground out another win beating Rushden & Higham 20-8 in Midlands 3 East (South) avenging the defeat earlier in the season.
Urged on by a large crowd of past players most of whom played in a completely different era Biggleswade scored twice as many tries and penalties as the visitors.
“It was hard but good fun” were the sentiments of all the players especially back rowers Liam Dunne and Michael Haddow who was declared man-of-the-match for Biggleswade. Top points scorer was Luke Haverly who scored a try, kicked two penalties and both conversions. He praised the forwards for their outstanding display which laid the foundations for the victory.
Conditions were perfect with no wind, a dry pitch and a largely unchanged side apart from Paul O’Sullivan back from “international” duty replacing the injured Gareth Rutt.
Biggleswade though started slowly and it was the visitors who looked the more threatening in the opening minutes. Biggleswade though were on top in the scrums putting the Rushden number eight under great pressure to secure a clean pick up.
The line outs too were solid with Liam Dunne, Michael Haddow and Paul O’Sullivan all clinical in securing good ball. They also disrupted the opposition’s throw which is such an important element in a tight game.
Biggleswade took the lead with a penalty from Luke Haverly after the visitors were guilty of “holding on” in a ruck. There was a period before that when Rushden looked the more likely to score first. Indeed they went over for the first try. It came from a lineout on the right and a score in the left corner near the road.
Biggleswade though edged back in front with a second successful penalty from Luke Haverly who really had his boots on the right foot this week.
The first Biggleswade try was scored in bizarre circumstances. Biggleswade kicked a penalty into the corner and started a drive from the catch. As the maul spun and broke up in all directions scrum half Zac Pates strolled the short distance to the line to touch the ball down. It appeared at half pace as if he was expecting to be called back for some infringement. But the referee stuck his hand in the air as he blew his whistle to award the try.
Biggleswade’s second try came from a charge down of an attempted clearance by a Rushden defender under pressure. It rebounded off the slight frame of fly-half Luke Haverly who hacked on and won the race for the touchdown. It came on the stroke of half-time with many watching time-keepers having twelve minutes of extra time added on.
The second half was very even with both sides having scoring opportunities. Desperate defence near their own line was the order of the day although a Biggleswade three-quarter did drop a pass when there was a very clear overlap and a try looked inevitable.
The only score of the second period was a solitary successful penalty from Rushden which narrowed the deficit but was not enough to secure a bonus point for coming second but within seven points of the victors.
The final whistle went bang on the end of forty minutes with hardly any extra time for stoppages.
Team: Dom Nott, Sacha Heath (Shane Manning), Jimmy Caulfield, Paul O’Sullivan, Aaron Pickering (Kyle Loan), Liam Dunne, Shaun Munday, Michael Haddow, Zac Pates, Luke Haverly, Alex Borg, Gavin Taylor, Michael Hall, Jakub Grabowski, Eliot Tunstall, Wade Allen.
The win means that Biggleswade remain in seventh place in the league table with three games left to play. First up is an away trip to St Ives after Easter followed by the last league match of the season against Stockwood Park. To round off the campaign there is another trip to Leicester to play Vipers who might have to win to get promotion back to Midlands 2.
Before that though there is the little matter of a Bedfordshire Cup Final match against Bedford Athletic who are top of Midlands 1, two leagues above Biggleswade. For the first time ever for Biggleswade the match is being played on a Friday kicking off at 3pm. There is no match on Easter Saturday.
Squad for Final: Dom Nott, Sacha Heath, Shane Manning, Jimmy Caulfield, Kyle Loan, Liam Dunne, Shaun Munday, Michael Haddow, Zac Pates, Luke Haverly, Alex Borg, Matt Hill, Tom Flather, Gavin Taylor, Michael Hall, Eliot Tunstall, Wade Allen, Sam Watson, A J Burke, Gareth Rutt, Michael Kendall
Six replacements are permitted for a cup match.