The meetings, the training sessions, the blood sweat and tears paid off this last Saturday as Middlesex senior men’s rose to the occasion and claimed their first victory in this years Bill Beaumont Senior County Championship beating Buckinghamshire 26-10.
The coach trip from Grasshoppers RFC to Aylesbury RFC was quiet with anticipation as the starting 22 contemplated what was to be Middlesex’s first foray into a senior county championship for a number of years, the unknown entity of Buckinghamshire awaited. Both teams looked fairly matched on paper, but as the coaching staff warned the players this didn’t indicate anything at this level.
Less than hospitable weather, traditional on a bank holiday weekend, played its part throughout the day ranging from sideways sleet to glorious sunshine. This didn’t however affect the AGP pitch and with both teams finishing their warms ups the game kicked off promptly at 14:30.
Middlesex dominated possession for the first 20 minutes, demonstrating the value of well planned training sessions as they relentlessly battered the hosts with set pieces. Oliver Snook claimed first blood crossing the whitewash and converting his own try. Momentum picked up with Middlesex and it wasn’t long before Tom Proctor crashed over the line for the visitors second try in the corner, with the kick missed Middlesex led 0-12. Bucks settled somewhat and showed their pedigree to start a comeback but were unable to breach a water tight defense. Alessandro Leo alongside Captain Cai Griffiths continued to cause havoc at the breakdown and with Cale Holmes making himself known to the opposition at every opportunity Middlesex took the game to the hosts. Tom Foster ably assisted by Alex Gee countered with a rapid attack allowing Joe Carolan to add his name to the score sheet as he danced over the line and with 33 minutes on the clock Middlesex controlled the game with a 0-19 advantage. With 5 minutes to go Billy Burrell aiming for an interception was deemed to have a committed a professional foul and took a ten minute rest for his ambition. Despite this Yacob Kial continued to elect to carry the ball into opposition numbers, gaining ground almost every time and with James Lo threatening down the wing Middlesex held out for as long as they could. Bucks however used the extra man to their advantage and scored a well worked converted try before using their kickers range to nick a long range penalty just as the half ended 10-19.
The weather decided to turn for the worse at this point and its great testament to the players commitment to the county that they continued to fire as hard as they did for the next 40 minutes. Both sides now having a better measure of each other meant that the fixture turned into something of a war of attrition, something the front row seemed to relish with Mike Griffiths, Rob Gardner and Alex Watts leading the charge in deteriorating conditions. The introduction of the bench brought new personalities onto the pitch and Middlesex picked up their tempo again. Joe Healy getting stuck in from the moment he stepped on alongside Max Imfeld. Jacob Lloyd added some ballast to the front five and yet again Bucks failed to fire as they were held and then pushed back in the scrum. For a solid 20 minutes Bucks played almost exactly on their 22 unable to find any space to use to their advantage as Middlesex refused to give up an inch. Jack Dever marshalling a tight defence and taking every chance to run at his opposite number. It was up to Snook to break the deadlock and earn the BP as he crossed and converted his second of the game (allegations of hat trick avoidance will be dealt with at a later date ). Peter Bicknell and Alex Brooks identified themselves as danger men, both players using the AGP to full advantage to demonstrate their speed. With the game now seemingly beyond Bucks as they trailed 10-26, Middlesex continued to search for another score with Tom Gadsby and Rich Bryan doing their bit for the cause, but credit must go where credit is due and Bucks held off the final attacks in front of their home crowd.
The final whistle brought an end to a very good game of rugby. The post match meal saw several ties being handed out to the new Bucks caps before every single of the Middlesex 22 received their tie from Chairman Peter Baveystock.
Thanks must go to Aylesbury RFC for their excellent hospitality and allowing us use of their impressive facilities. Thanks must also go to the match day officials and we wish Bucks all the best for the rest of the competition.
Head Coach: Mark Jackson
Forwards Coach: Corne du Rand
Backs Coaches: Edd Conway & Peter Halsall
Physio: Steve Bosworth & Sofia Simeone
Team Manager: Alex Pereira-Inacio
- Alexander Watts – London Scottish
- Rob Gardner – Hampstead
- Michael Griffiths – London Welsh
- Cai Griffiths – London Welsh ( Captain)
- Yacob Kial – Grasshoppers
- Thomas Proctor – CS Stags 1863
- Cale Holmes – Hammersmith & Fulham
- Alessandro Leo – Bishop Stortford
- Billy Burrell- Hendon
- Oliver Snook – Chiswick
- James Lo – Hammersmith & Fulham
- Jack Dever – Old Priorians (VC)
- Joe Carolan – Bredon Star
- Alex Gee – Hammersmith & Fulham
- Tom Foster – Twickenham
- Max Imfeld – H.A.C
- Joe Healey – Mill Hill
- Rich Bryan – Chiswick
- Tom Gadsby – Chiswick
- Peter Bicknell – Hampstead
- Alex Brooks – Hampstead
- Jacob David- Lloyd – H.A.C