With Christmas party season in full swing, the BERFC was going to need something short of a miracle to field a full squad of players for the Baltic’s first mid-week flood lit match being played against Lloyds Bank.
The opening 10 minutes saw both sides giving away careless penalties around rucks and mauls, probably from players shaking off the frustrations of a day at the office. It was clear from the start the Baltic were up for a full flowing game of rugby with offloads and running more familiar to those seen in the rugby sevens format.
The Baltic started to find themselves under pressure in their 22, but realised that patiently waiting for the opposition to make mistakes paid quicker dividends than being penalised for infringing the breakdown.
Rupert Edwards (Rigel Shipping) at Second Row and debutant Callum Wilkinson (Clarksons) playing at No. 8 were perfectly capable at smashing through the opposition line and offloading, allowing the Baltic to counter quickly. Similarly talisman Colin Mortimore (ISCA Marine) acutely found gaps around the breakdown to make ground and give a solid platform for the backs to run.
Defensively, the Baltic were able to hold their own and apply pressure causing the opposition to kick out of hand giving Martin Bazley (Frank Symons) at full back, the opportunity to run the ball from deep and make good ground.
However, sloppy mistakes and general heroics had meant the Baltic had failed to score a single point even with the majority of the possession.
As the first half ended the Baltic relied on its solid set plays with a strong scrum and ‘dummy-switch-pop’ move allowing for Humphrey Hodgson (O’Keeffe & Partners) to score.
Special mention to Jamie McDonald and Harry Stott (both Clarksons) who were able to continue to hack down the opposition with excellent tackling and counter-rucking. It was later reported the pair were involved with a ‘Blue on Blue’ incident unfortunately causing Harry to leave the field at half time with scores at 14-0 to the Baltic and only 14 players on the pitch.
Second half saw the Baltic kick-off with an intention to see off the game. Ferocious tackling and direct running from Charlie Haddock (Clarksons) and Simon Armitage (Affinity) meant very little ground was made by Lloyds. The majority of the second half was played in the opponents half, however with further tries being scored and courtesy of the boot of Chris Symes (Clarksons) the team were able to relax, scores at 22-0.
As the half developed so did the style of play and whilst notable Baltic players continued to put in some great tackles, fatigue, too many mince pies and a lack of organisation allowed for Lloyds to make some excellent open play work and run through to score twice.
Too little too late however with final scores at 22-12 in the Baltic’s favour – a remarkable effort especially with the limited numbers.
We would also like to extend special thanks to the referee, Simon Jozwiack (D’Amico Shipping) for allowing a free flowing game and keeping both teams in check and in good spirits!