IT’S ALL the small things that count, attention to the minutiae, the basics that draw a line between success and failure, winning or losing.
The 2013 version of the Jack Call cup brought together the new and the old, the pretenders and the real deals, high level experience against heartfelt desire and spirit.
Experience triumphed, spirit lost but remained strong, and rugby once again was the real beautiful game at Green Lane.
Ainsworth’s men held the cards with high basics, Taff’s remit was to stop the rhythm of cruelty that the 3rd team beasts would bring, but when you face a team filled with Deans, Denholms, Greens and Dolces, you need more than a kitchen sink to save your blushes.
The Blues soon found their rhythm scoring two well worked unconverted tries courtesy of Povey the younger and Mahood the senior which put the Lions on the back foot after a promising start.
From here the Blues rose to the occasion as the Lions wilted, (4 weeks off is too long), the tries flowed in, another from Mahood, two from winger and Lions wannabe Lyons, (one a spectacular 75 metre effort weaving his spell), and one from full-back Barton who added 8 points from his trusty boot, 40 minutes had elapsed, the Lions were 38 nil down, this was going to be a long What gave the match more credence of a competition was laughter, As the teams changed ends the sullen Lions walked passed a joyous sounding 3rd team which only added perceived insult to injury, (for the record in no way was it intentional, it was merely a team happy after a great half of rugby).
Taff saw red, his ‘pep talk’ to the team must have been audible over the greater part of Merseyside.
Scull, Sibely and Rees had played their hearts out but on came Law and debutant Anderson on the flanks and young Mitchell at full-back. The trick was done.
From a first half of no ball at all, Lions suddenly found the egg, Taff and Heath found the spoiling tactics, Bober, Anderson, Law and Clarke found their feet, it wasn’t enough, but it stopped the rout quite successfully, and when Ford, new boys Liversridge and Rodgers came on as well as old favourite Broxton, Taff’s men started to threaten.
The Blues rhythm was broken; they now had to work for their supper.
In fact it took some Mahood magic to get the first of only two scores in the second half. 20 metres out he was stopped by Ford but a beautiful text book offload to the on rushing Dean was quite sublime if not a little amusing seeing Deany scuttling to the line.
The other score was the last play as Brennan seeking to outfox young Bishop, threw an audacious overhead pass which impala-like Bishop leapt for, caught, and scored without really breaking his stride.
Thus it ended, 52-0 but at least the Lions’ effort in half two was worthy of noting.
The fact is they didn’t play that badly its just that you cant let a team like the thirds get up a head of steam, though there is no shame in losing to a first team of yesteryear that bristles with talent allied to superb youthful endeavour.
The Lions need to think smarter and start faster. Law was superb when he came on as were Ando, Liversridge and Rodgers, (‘a future so bright I gotta wear shades!’)
Bober is now finding his rugby feet again, and Smith is the real deal.
Robinson on the wing continues his massive improvements from the guy with no rugby knowledge to the one with bulldog spirit and now great tackling prowess and the forwards though out-muscled gave a good account of themselves.
Reincarnation must be believed in it should be said. Without a doubt young Wayne Clarke must have been a terrier in a past life.
This five foot six of shin-biting, death-defying Ulsterman earned many plaudits from the victors, one particular act saw him racing up-field from a kick off and attempting to topple Brian Green, apart from being totally amusing, (Greeny’s face was nonplussed to say the least), it exemplified Wayne’s commitment to the Lions’ cause and one of many reasons why Wayne Clarke was the Lions’ star-man on the day.
The force is very strong in this one.