On a cold winters afternoon with the mercury struggling to push the zero barriers and snow falling from the heavens, 40 brave “blue” souls took to the pitches of Shaftsbury Playing Fields to do battle. Being the Official “Day of Inventors” Pinner knew they would have to come up with a few new ideas to claim victory over a side playing many divisions above them. With the warm up completed (though still freezing) and all the Pinner fans now in position wrapped up for an Irish Summer, Ben Soloman got the game underway with a fantastic hanging ball kick off for Pinner to put Uxbridge under instant pressure. Almost instantly the steam began to rise (mostly from the larger fellas) as every thwarted attack was broken down with a crunch of bones and a roar of discontent, not today, not on my watch the cold windswept watery eyes told the marauding Uxbridge warriors. It takes a brave man to step onto the pitches of Pinner RFC knowing only luck will get them through the next 80 minutes allowing them to return home unbroken but always beaten. Everyone knew today they would see something special and Pinner was not to disappoint.
The first 10 minutes was a subdued affair of backs line breaks and forwards play with each team working what the other was about. After some great defensive work by Pinner the ball was well shipped out from nimble footed scrum half Phil Blaydon to the backs out wide to find the welcomed returning Jon Kirby on the wing who broke the line and ran around the Full Back with some strictly come dancing magic twisting and leaping like a young Bruce Forsyth to touch down under the sticks for the first score which Ben Soloman nudged over the posts for his first successful conversion of the day.
Some fine forwards work off the ball kept Uxbridge at bay to allow the pretty boys in the backs to work their magic and consistently they kept penetrating Uxbridge but were unable to punish them due to some last gasp tackling. Unperturbed Pinner kept up the pressure which led to the release of the biggest Centre in the Northern Hemisphere Owen who broke the line, ran over 2 Uxbridge “would be heroes” and carried the ball, the winger and the fullback over the line to add the 2nd score of the day (2nd of the season so far….). Uxbridge had some dominance in the scrum and the lineout though with the new hooker for the 2’s Will Micallef the set piece started to take shape and the defence and defiance of Pinner was not to be broken and tackle after tackle kept being made preventing Uxbridge from getting sight of the line let alone a sniff of the chalk. With the late replacement Referee Clyde playing an immense half the game started to plateau. The 3rd try of the half was a well worked team effort releasing the gracefully light-footed Patrick Leahy to score an immense solo try passing 3 Uxbridge players to dab down 5cm off of centre under the posts which was converted by Ben Soloman once again with a big kick to keep up his 100% record of the day. With solid tackling from Darren Southam in only his second game ever on the wing and some great catch and clearances from full back Swimteam anything Uxbridge had to offer was repelled with brutality.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, again the game started to even out a bit with a toe to toe, blow for blow battle around the middle of the pitch with both sides looking for those all important extra inches. Pinner managed to secure the ball and it came loose out on the wing behind the Uxbridge defence which Ben Soloman managed to run onto and kick down the pitch towards to the Uxbridge line. With his lungs burning and legs turning to Jelly, the plucky no.10 found that little extra to pick up the ball and find the touchline before the Uxbridge full back which he duly converted to make that HT and a 28 point lead.
HT Pinner Pelicans 28 – 0 Uxbridge
With the HT “Cuddle for Warmth” over Pinner looked to their extensive bench for the replacement of “leading try scorer” but seriously ill/hungover Lee Muckley to find it slightly lacking except for one slovenly poor excuse for a hooker who was smiling happily playing with his flag their only option. Nevertheless, players have pushed around and Rob Steel was found a position within the back row somewhere or another. Uxbridge got the half underway with a big KO. The game returned to a reflection of the first half with tackles being exchanged and knock-ons and penalties being given away by both teams. Whether it was the smell of the now warming Pasta Bolognese from the clubhouse or thoughts of England’s impending triumph over Wales but something caused Pinner to lose concentration which Uxbridge took full advantage of to get their comeback under way and score their first try of the day. This became the story of the 2nd half for Pinner as Uxbridge pressed and got their sights on overturning what was thought an HT to be an uncatchable lead. The defending and heart of Pinner must be mentioned as the pressure was on and everyone put in a shift to stop the ball crossing the line with every ounce of strength left. Even the trampling of Fly Half Ben Soloman by our own Lee “the juggernaut” O’Callaghan didn’t stop him putting his body on the line. Unfortunately with uncharacteristic mistakes being made all over the park though Uxbridge managed to get the game to within 2 points of Pinner with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Clock ticking down on the refs Casio 500 sports timer (waterproof up to 10m) the Pelicans awoke from their Bolognese induced stupor, rolled up their sleeves and shoulder to shoulder formed a Pinner Wall with a cry of none shall pass. Not even with thoughts of the Feast of Saint Valentine only mere days away the brave 15 vowed not to be Penetrated again, not on the hallowed greens of Hatch End. Uxbridge came again looking for blood, bearing down on the Pinner line like ravenous wolves but found there was no way past. Wave after wave was sent packing, with fierce snarling tackles, ripped balls, screams of anguish and with lungs burning Uxbridge were penalised for the final time and the sweet sound of the full-time whistle was blown.
A victory so sweet it had to be washed down with many pints of London Pride and a few bowls of bolognese before feeling returned to everyone’s toes and private areas. Sometimes copying the tactics of Eddie Jones and bringing on the “finishers” at the half time doesn’t pay off but fortunately on Saturday Eddie Jones didn’t disappoint. At least 30-40 players and members stuck around to get drunk, reminisce and watch an international whitewash of England beating Wales in their own backyard. Wouldn’t happen at Shaftsbury Playing Fields….oh no sir, not at the Pinner Fortress!!!!