THAMES RFC’s new season and new beginning started at home, with new players alongside old and in new kit. Stepping into the unknown Thames RFC invited Burnham RFC to Garron Lane for their first official game after the rebirth of Thames Rugby.
Thames still trying to settle on their final playing squad for the season was helped out by a few local friendly players to complete their squad. Burnham themselves are rebuilding and introducing young into their established side so both teams were keen to use the game as a trail and see match.
Thames struck first after just 2 minutes 30 seconds from an attacking scrum 5 metres out. Mark O’Connell questing for Thames picked up at 8 and powered his way through to touch down. The conversion by Lee Cairns came back off the right upright, so the extra points were not added. Thames were dealt an early significant blow when Riaan Booysen playing at scrum half was injured and had to leave the pitch after just 7 minutes. A quick restructure in the back line and the game continued. Burnham were moving the ball well, using their big power runners to try and break holes in the Thames defence and then spinning the ball out to their speedy backs to try and get around the Thames line. Burnham’s barrage paid off with a try out wide just after 8 minutes but the conversion was found wanting.
Thames was using their training moves to full affect with Edgar Juska and Jack Price (Debut at senior level) hitting strong striking lines. These in roads and deft off loads gave Michael Hogan an opening 10 metres inside the Thames half. Hogan stepped and sprinted through the Burnham line only to be caught by a great chasing back tackle but as Hogan went down Captain Daniel Proctor was in support and received a floated pop from Hogan. Proctor being chased all the way to the line was able to outpace his opposition and dabbed down behind the posts. Cairns struck the ball between the posts to add the extra two points.
Just as the first half was coming to its conclusion Thames were awarded a penalty directly in front of the posts and Cairns wasted no time slotting the 3 points and taking his team into the break 15 – 5 ahead.
The first half had been keenly contested and both sides were playing some good rugby mixed with the inevitable errors from sides adapting to new players and set plays, the errors themselves added to the entertaining game being played.
The second half started well for Thames with several quick planned moves putting winger and quest player Michael Kite into space allowing him to skirt around the Burnham defence and touch down for Thames’s third try. The conversion was into the gaining strong winds and was pushed wide.
Both teams continued to attack and repel their opposition. The best of these was Burnham holding up Thames just over their line after Price was driven over by his team mates and Thames stripping Burnham of the ball only metres out. Thames was putting together some very good plays, they were trying many of their line out moves and the backs were testing their set plays as well. Burnham was also playing their part in a very entertaining game. As the second half drew to a close Thames put together a fantastic move involving backs and forwards resulting in Hogan once again showing his fleet of foot to dodge through the cover tackles touching down for Thames fourth and final try. The conversion was close but was not converted.
A very well contested and entertaining game by both sides, with Thames taking the win 25 -5. Thames awarded the man of the match to Matt Vallis, Vice-Captain and pack leader for his unrelenting work rate and leadership for the entire 80 minutes.