Match Report: 27/1/16
Durham 3rd XV vs Liverpool 1st XV
The previous encounter with Liverpool was statistically one of our hardest fixtures of the season with only a narrow 14-8 win on the infamous Racecourse. They left us with a chilled message of “We’ll see you at our place” and looking at the tables it showed us they had only lost once at home the whole season: this wasn’t going to be an easy encounter. To make matters worse, shortly before kick-off, regular starters Ali Broughton and Ollie Wilson withdrawn from action due to illness; a real loss.
Another early Wednesday start introduced us to storm Jonas, which had covered the east coast of America in snow the previous week but as usual we were not enjoying 3 feet of fresh snow but rather 30mph wind and torrential rain. The conditions were certainly not in our favour as Liverpool brought a large pack with a strong driving maul which we know we would have to disassemble early if were to stand a chance of winning.
The toss left us fighting into the wind the first half and we knew if we could survive without conceding we could take the game to them in the second half. We did exactly that with some difficult kicking straight into a head wind from Ben Cook and an electric first half from James Otulakowski having recently come down from the 2nds. The only real moment of panic came from a strong clearing kick from the Liverpool fullback managing to nutmeg our own Will Waddington, only the scrambling defence from George Shiel allowing us to escape our line without conceding.
The Durham scrum was once again an immovable force thanks to the front 3 effort of Josh Howey, Jack Close and the mighty Toby Thurgood allowing us to push one over from the 5 metre line making the score 19-6. A game of strong carries once again from Harry Hall and Ollie Harris in the engine room with the former the deserved man-of-the-match- a great return from injury for the big man.
The back row managed to deter a strong breakdown effort from Liverpool and the back three in return treated us to some real “Jouér” putting Alcock under the sticks carrying 3 defenders over the line- a top classy finish. A monster hit from Owen Bennett sending his opposite number off the field roused the troops for the final 15 of the game with the power subs of Ollie Hart, Jonathan Edes and Elliot Manley all coming on making an impact. The game took a sour turn when Christian Johnston was sent off for not releasing the tackler, much to his dismay, regardless, his second in two weeks: a modern flanker who plays the margins.
2 well executed tries later, the game ended a resounding 39-12 win for the men in palatinate making it 12-0 for the season and exactly a whole calendar year since the 3s last loss. Will they ever loose again?