McSorleys Match Report - Marauders v The Police 3/Nov/2018
Police infiltrate Marauders: crack coaching combination of Chief Lau and Matt Whitmell outsmarted by the Filth
By Gavin "Flav" Hermann
Initial signs were positive for the HKU Sandy Bay Marauders’ away game at Boundary Street, hosted by our always friendly Police RFC rugby brothers. Numbers were plentiful, following some re-shuffling at the Raiders/Vikings level, and spirits were quite high (just like the turf where we were about to play on). The game day crack coaching combination of Chief Lau and Matt Whitmell, were quick to rally the troops into an array of warm-up, ball skills and forwards/back structures. The mood of the team was greatly improved by the presence of three new super SAFFAs (Mike, Lawrence & Andrew), whom we look forward to welcoming to future games as well. Dark thoughts of the last game Marauders played at Boundary Street were not openly discussed (the day that 2x red cards and a 50+ week suspension were handed out), but all of those that were present that day knew the score and were all determined to walk away with both the W and a clean sheet.
However, once the referee blew his whistle of the game to start, it quickly became apparent that the average age of the Police team had dramatically reduced over the off-season, whilst the average speed of the team had dramatically increased over the same time period. That explosive speed alone saw the referee penalize Police right at the kick off (for being in front of the kicker), but that half way scrum feed was to be one of the very few advantages gifted to the Marauders in H1. After a number of arm wrestles inside the Police half, the constant jackaling from the Police side soon resulted in a turnover and their counter-attack exposed some initial flaws in the Marauders defensive structure. After a couple of “jackal / turnover / run wide / score-try” phases were completed by Police, the crack coaching staff of the Marauders kicked into gear, making some strategic positional changes and hammering home from the sideline the need for better structure. This resulted in a good 10-15 minute passage of play which saw Marauders almost score, only to be undone by yet another “jackal / turnover / run wide / score-try” by the now Benjamin Button-like Police team. An alleged “no hands shoulder charge tackle” from Tom Alcorn saw him take a yellow and a 10x minute breather, which fired him up for the rest of the match and also encouraged Owen Farrell to emulate him later that evening. Let’s call the first half 4 tries to nil for the Police; we were down, but not out.
Half time brought some much needed rest and strategy sessions led by super-Captain JJ Bull and the crack coaching staff of Whitmell and Chief. New recruit super-SAFFA Andrew also provided some much needed encouragement and a reminder about cold beer, police brutality prison, but I cannot recall which order they were mentioned in. As the referee blew the whistle for the second half, Marauders did NOT fall foul of being in front of the kicker and this game of two halves was on again. The initial “fog” of opposition speed and youth seemed to be less relevant for the mighty Marauders team as the game re-started, with the forwards getting a little more into the 2 and 3 man pod groove in attack, starving the Police from their opportunistic jackaling. There was also some better structure in defense across both forwards and backs, with better communication and less over-commitment at the breakdowns. After enduring one more “jackal / turnover / run wide / score-try” phases, the Marauders strung together a strong passage of play in the opposition half which led to a great try from super-SAFFA no. 9, Lawrence Rumble. Whilst celebrating the try, Lawrence was immediately handed a yellow-card and a 10x minute breather for his over-exuberant celebrations. This unique “score try / receive yellow card” honor was a first for many old hands in the Marauders side, which quickly elevated Lawrence to both the DOTD award and “you’re welcome back every week” status. With 14x mature men against 15x young Police, we endured just one more “jackal / turnover / run wide / score-try” phase, but then seriously gave the young guns a run for their money with a 10 minute passage of classic Marauders forwards play, full of relentless pods and exhausted clean-outs. Unfortunately there were no more points scored afterwards, so let’s call the second half 2 tries to 1 for the oppostion; we were still down, but there was a lot more fight, a lot more structure and a general belief that the Marauders had set a good base for improvement and some W’s in the next few games ahead