The last Friday of February saw a hotly anticipated outing for BERFC at the HQ of Saracens RFC, Allianz Park in North London. The night weather under floodlights – cool, crisp and clear – the opposition – well drilled, organised and very large (30 players in all). Also currently sitting at the top of the league, on paper this looked to be a tough contest for the Baltic who by contrast had a squad of welcomed newcomers and players who had never played together wearing a Baltic shirt.
From the start of the match the pace was ferocious. Needless to say the ‘4G’ synthetic pitch certainly enabled both teams to play fast rugby, even allowing the more steadfast players within the squad to feel light on foot.
The first 40 minutes was dictated by the Baltic dominating possession in the opponents half with some excellent passing and tight-knit play only to be upset by turnovers and lack of support. The pack were succinct in providing clean ball from the back of the line-out and scrum and physically were very capable at competing up front even though they had met just 45 minutes earlier.
This allowed the backs to get over the gain line and have some real possession in attack – this by all accounts surprised the opposition who were perhaps traditionally used to controlling the game in this area of the field.
However the first half did not go to plan with the Baltic being pinged for a lot of infringements in the ruck allowing the opposition to make several well executed breaks and giving them one try for their reward. The score at the half time oranges (many thanks to Chris Symes’ mum for the 3 bags) was 3-5.
The Baltic Exchange made a number of changes going into the second half making full use of the squad. If anything this made the game quicker with the opposition replacing their whole team meaning both sides had fresh legs eager to get on.
The Baltic started to grow into the game and playing to their advantages. Notably playing off the back of the scrum, gaining ground off one or two quick phases which in turn gave the backs like Will Burrows (Denholm Group) and Christopher Symes (Clarksons) more space to enjoy in open play. Although the ‘Pilgrims’ slipped through tackles to score another try, the game always seemed to be in the Baltic’s control.
Aggressive tackling, astute decision making and entrepreneurial vision built confidence in the team again allowing the Baltic to take the majority of the possession. This led to the Baltic’s first well worked try with Henry Reynolds (Gearbulk) crossing over the line.
The game continued to be played in the control of the Baltic and although the score was at 10 – 8 it was a matter of time before a second try was scored this time by Charlie Haddock (Clarksons) coming from a well worked scrum and pick up at No.8.
Final score 13-10 to the Baltic.
Man of the Match : Rupert Edwards (Rigel Shipping) – Second Row
Squad: Olly Brewer (SPS London), Derek Ikwueke (Global Marine Energy), Angus Salloway (JLT Specialty), Ian Nash (Intelligent Engineering), Rupert Edwards (Rigel Shipping), Roray Lane (Spinnaker Global), Douglas Love (ICBC Standard Bank PLC), Ellis Morley (Spinnaker Global), Charlie Haddock (Clarksons), Charlie Hall (Plexus Cotton Ltd), Henry Reynolds (Gearbulk Ltd), Christopher Symes (Clarksons), Humphrey Hodgson (O’Keeffe & Partners), Will Knight (EDF Trading), George Frith (Hiscox), Will Burrows (Denholm Group), Tom Chapman (Clarksons), Colin Mortimore (ISCA Marine), Henry Potter (Hartland Shipping)