Biggleswade 3rd XV narrowly miss out on victory in final1st May 2018
Having seen their season stutter over the finish line due to bad weather and opposition cancellations, Biggleswade 3rd XV were desperate to finish the season in style. The previous weekend the 3rd XV had played a team of visiting Greeks and after a rusty first half put in a strong second half performance in which they outscored their opponents three tries to one.
With a lack of match practice over recent weeks, Biggleswade could have been forgiven for taking a while to get up to speed. However, with both sides desperate to get their hands on the cup, the opening exchanges were furious, with spectators commenting post-game that the opening twenty minutes in particular were comparable physically to first team level.
The Biggleswade backline looked threatening early on whilst Bishop’s Stortford looked equally dangerous with several heavy-duty carriers. As both teams got the measure of each other, the game ebbed and flow with possession and territory changing hands regularly. The pack, which looked strong in the scrums, also worked tirelessly to disrupt at ruck time.
It was to be Biggleswade’s forward effort which would reap the opening score. At a Bishop’s Stortford ruck Jack Unite managed to get into good position over the ball and win the penalty. Backing their lineout to deliver Biggleswade went to the corner which yielded another penalty. This allowed Zack Pates an opportunity to burrow over for the opening score with Luke Haverly providing the additional two.
The first half continued to be an arm wrestle as both sides searched for the opening which might provide the next score. In the end Biggleswade found themselves on the back foot after several indiscretions which allowed Bishop’s Stortford to set up camp in their 22.
Desperate not to concede, Biggleswade were quick off the line defensively, which at times led to penalties for offside; however, the line held firm thanks to the physicality of Ian Flack and David Neale in particular.
Eventually something had to give, and after another penalty being awarded, Bishop’s Stortford were able to drive over. With the conversion being kicked successfully the remaining minutes were played out and half-time provided an opportunity for both sides to regroup.
The second half started in much the same vein as the first half. The scrum retained the upper hand and Dave Leslie and Will Roake were making metres with ball in hand. Despite this neither side could quite break free of the onslaught of bodies ready to throw themselves into the tackle.
In the end it was during a defensive shift that Biggleswade were able to score again. Having managed to kick the ball ahead Matt Turner made chase and despite the attention of three opposition players, punt the ball ever closer to the try line. As Bishop’s Stortford hands frantically reached out the ball cruelly bounced away and into the hands of chasing Dave Leslie. Luke Haverly again knocked over the conversion.
With the lead restored Biggleswade continued push onwards in attack but couldn’t get into the opposition 22 on enough occasions. Eventually this lack of accuracy, alongside a rising number of penalties, saw them fall foul of the referee; with only around 15 minutes until the final whistle this meant the game was on a knife-edge.
It was to be this ill-discipline which resulted in the next try. From an attacking lineout Bishop’s Stortford were able to get a strong maul going – however the initial attempt was repelled. The subsequent maul however was brought down by Biggleswade and the referee went under the sticks for a penalty try.
Biggleswade once again rallied and went in search of the all-important next score. With frustration starting to boil over, another succession of penalties saw Biggleswade down to 14 men and the opportunity of three points to take the lead was all too easy for Bishop’s Stortford. Just seconds later, the final whistle went, bringing an end to what some spectators described as “the most entertaining game of rugby we’ve seen the 3rd team play in”.
In the post-game group huddle Dave Tysom announced that this was to be his last game as captain, bringing to a close an important chapter in the team’s history. Having led the side from the front and with commitment and passion his successor will have large shoes to fill whilst Dave continues to lead the club excellently as club chairman. On behalf of all of those who have played under your leadership we thank you for your time, effort and dedication to the 3rd XV.
Biggleswade 3rd XV: A Applegate, J Unite, D Tysom ©, I Flack. D Neale, S Puttock, M Turner, S Rutt; Z Pates, L Haverly, G Jones, C Foster, D Leslie, G Taylor, W Roake. Subs: R Williams, A Thiedmann, M Showell, J Woodfield