This past Saturday was an excellent day for rugby: mild weather, soft ground underfoot and two teams willing to throw everything at each other over 80 minutes! Harwell were welcomed, having given us a fun and slightly loose game back in October.

The start of this match was no less captivating, with the sides lining up in front of an eager crowd and even a few substitutes! Right from the first kick off big runs were flying down the middle of the pitch. Harwell had several powerful players who sought to impose themselves on the game early, while we were able to string together multiple phases of close quarters forward play to return the favour. Harwell struck first, but an instant reply came from our kick off! Jason Chambers (Prop), our esteemed captain, grabbed the ball out of the sky and proceeded downfield at a rate of knots, amply supported by the rest of the forward pack. We kept the pressure on close to the Harwell line and Grant Thomas (Hooker) crashed over from a tap and go penalty!

Harwell scored again a few minutes later and were again met with a firm response! Some hard running and good ball control brought us in Harwell territory, where we went through phase after phase of crash balls. Eventually this sucked in enough defenders to open up space out wide, where a quick jink from Tim Guite (Fly Half) unleased Darren Andrews (Outside Centre) from only a few metres to go over the line.

The rest of the half continued to be a back and forth affair, albeit with Harwell gradually imposing themselves through tries resulting from broken tackles. We had several more close opportunities, with attacking lineouts on the Harwell 5m line as well as an excellently placed box kick from Chris Lewis (Scrum Half) which couldn’t quite be regathered [Sorry!!].

As the second half began, we suffered a noticeable drop in energy and intensity, allowing Harwell to break through. The team dug deep and outside these incidents we showed our toughness and playmaking ability. More than one Harwell break was halted by excellent covering tackles and defensive scrambling. We also stopped them at source by aggressively pushing up on their backs when they had attacking set pieces, forcing dropped balls and poor passes. In attack we generally held together well, providing the basis for some really audacious line breaks. The most memorable starting around the half way line on the right hand side, with multiple offloads allowing us to run fast into Harwell’s 22, where the ball was thrown out wide to Grant who pushed inside his tackler and got a pass away to Feg as he was going down. In acres of space, Feg was unable to draw in the ball above his head (see Honourable Mentions section).

Although a victory was slipping away from us, we stayed determined to play until the final whistle. We were duly rewarded with a closing try. Darren Massey (Prop) used some silky footwork to find a gap in the (finally) tiring Harwell defense, and slipped the ball to Ben Filmer (Flanker) who forced his way over.

Looking at the scoreline you may be tempted to think this was a comprehensive victory for the visitors, but the Littlemore team really came together to play some good rugby and push Harwell close for long periods of the match. Both teams can be proud of how they played and, indeed, several words and beers were shared to this effect in the clubhouse!

Final Score

Littlemore 17 – 62 Harwell

Man of the Match

Von Sims – Developing into a fiery outside centre with consistently big runs and big tackles in this game!

Honourable Mentions

Darren Andrews (Feg) – Had the ball passed his way twice in open space only a few metres from the line. 50% success rate.

Jason Chambers and Darren Massey – Their effort in the front row gave us a solid attacking platform under great pressure.