Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt, three famous victories of the 100 year’s war on French soil, with the last of the three, made famous by the English Archer’s salute to the French to show they still had their two “Bow Fingers”. There can be many comparisons between a battle and Rugby, two sides locked in combat, often painful, with one side taking the high ground and emerging victorious.
1. Monty Weatherby
2. Christian Dolan
3. Archie Irlam-Mowbray
4. Harry Taylor
5. Ollie Taylor
6. James Parry
7. Alex Walker
8. Cameron Beech
9. Callum Darlington
10. Luke Pickles
11. Jake Meredith
12. Josh Brookes
13. Thomas Lea
14. Matt Reel
15. Jordan Ravenscroft
Replacements: Jack Bayes, Ben Wilson, Alex Wardle, George Morgan, Joe Beckett, Cieren Leigh
Scorer(s): Tries: Josh Brookes (5), Cameron Beech, James Parry. Con(s): Luke Pickles (4)
There are many reasons cited for the French defeat at Agincourt, their armour was too heavy, it was too muddy, they were too French, but it came down to two things in my eyes; English Archer’s, broad in the chest, lightening quick and English spirit, determined, calm under pressure and unwilling tom yield to any foe. We had both in our team yesterday. We had a side full of Archers, and the Spirit was undeniable.
Unlike Agincourt, we decided we would advance first. The opening 5 minutes was a sight to behold. We were aggressive, compact and decisive not letting Crewe get any foothold in the game at all. The forwards, with a tough day ahead of them, set about their counterparts with power we have only seen form other sides before. The backs, who knew their job was today similar to that of the Archers, to rein down a hailstorm of devastating destruction when the time was right, were patient, waiting for our forwards to gain supremacy.
One of our forwards, a little over eager, conceded a Penalty, and Crewe played out the advantage, kicking forward, only to see their feint thwarted. The ball was turned over to us, and our very own Henry V, Josh Brookes, made them pay. After a great hand-off, he crossed the line in the corner to strike the first blow to score.
From the ensuing kick-off, Crewe perhaps thought by daring to kick straight to Josh, he would shy away from the challenge, but like a true champion of old, he took the gauntlet and weaved some magic. He returned the kick with interest and his pace took him away from the defenders to really land a hammer blow. 12-0 to us.
There were heroes all over the pitch, as Crewe tried to get into the game, only to be snuffed out by guts and glory. The backs were now getting good ball from the forwards, and in difficult conditions, they used it well, with Luke Pickles and Josh Brookes, kicking deep, turning the Full-back and putting real pressure on him. This proved to be a great tactic, and led to our third try of the game, with Luke putting in a clever chip kick for Josh to chase down successfully, and then score his Hat-Trick.
This wasn’t just the Josh Brookes show though, in every position, players were stepping up their levels of performance. Our front row looked solid, Archie Irlam-Mowbray, Christian Dolan and Monty Weatherby showing on their day, no-one can handle them. Harry and Ollie Taylor in the second row are developing into fine players, especially in the line-outs. The back row trio today of James Parry, Alex Walker and Cameron Beech, worked hard and never let the opposition settle for one second.
Callum Darlington had another solid game in tough conditions, while Luke Pickles and Josh Brookes benefitted from everyone hard work, being given time and space to play. Thomas Lea and Jordan Ravenscroft simply didn’t let anything get through in the first half, whilst wingers Matt Reel and Jake Meredith were starved of ball at times, their defence was imperious.
We now smelt blood, as Crewe started to miss more tackles and were on the back foot. A solid scrum in the centre of the park, set the backs going again, and again, we used the kicking game well, pressuring the Crewe defence into a knock on. From the resulting scrum, with us now well in control in that part of the game, Cameron Beech. Looking increasingly like a natural No.8, picked up at the base, and strode home for try number 4 of the first half.
The half-time whistle blew to Crewe’s relief, with us well on top, and looking hungry for more against a deflated opposition.
As in many battles and wars over the centuries, there is sometimes an air of familiarity about the opposition. Many fellow countrymen have fought on opposing sides, at Agincourt, Gascons fought alongside the English, indeed many English noblemen would have spoken mostly in French, and in the game, many of Crewe’s side knew our side to add to the spice of a local Derby.
Crewe came out for the second half looking to up their game after what sounded like an Alex Ferguson type team talk, and they pressed deep into our half from the kick-off. We had made changes, with Joe Beckett coming on for the injured Christian Dolan and George Morgan coming on for Jake Meredith. Neither player let the standards of the first half drop, and the change was seamless.
We were now under real pressure, which sometimes see us at our best, and this was no different. With the cushion of a comfortable lead, risks can be taken, and the next passage of play was one such instance. A 5 metre scrum saw us release the ball to Josh Brookes underneath his own posts, and normally the cry would be to kick away, but with Crewe pressing so deep, Josh saw an opportunity. With an Archer’s eye, he saw a gap and went for it. A jink of the shoulder and a subtle change of direction, he beat 2 then 3 players, leaving acres of space to run into. Now in full flow, he stretched his legs, and sprinted the length of the pitch to score a magnificent try at the opposite end. Crewe must have wondered what they would have to do to quell the awesome power of our boys without the protection of their own battlements they have had in the past.
A couple more players entered into the Melee, as Alex Wardle and Ben Wilson came on and Alex Walker and Matt Reel basked in the applause of the joyous crowd. Crewe once again fell foul of our kicking tactic shortly after the changes were made, as Luke Pickles again kicked on a square angle, putting their winger under pressure from Jordan Ravenscroft, who remembered his footballing days, with a sliding tackle to beat him to the ball. This released the supporting Josh Brookes, who collected calmly on the other side of the winger, to score under the posts to give us a mighty 38-0 lead.
With a couple of our bigger, more powerful players missing; James Finucane long term with a broken leg, and David Hanson-Isasi with a broken finger, both injured during the Cheshire Squad get togethers, it was important the players who came into the side as a result showed their metal. I was not disappointed. We really turned the screw with the next time, as the forwards mauled and rucked their way through the Crewe defence deep into their half. In open play, we have a new weapon, as James Parry showed great technique to drive over for his first try for the club, showing wonderful strength in the carry, he was unstoppable. 43-0, and looking for more, Crewe showed some character and once again took the fight to us.
Jack Bayes and Cieren Leigh entered, giving the crowd a chance to appreciate the departing Harry and Ollie Taylor, who had great games. With the games truly won, our concentration levels dipped, and not learning lessons from the Marple game, we were slow to react to penalties given against us, and once again we conceded as a result.
With our Knights and Archers dreaming of plunder after the battle, we conceded again in the dying embers of the game, as we recorded a great 43-12 win.
It would have been great to keep a clean sheet, but there are always casualties of battle, and Crewe showed some great spirit in the game and deserved their points.
We showed 6 great reasons why we won today:
Or SPOONS!!- a great weapon against all types of foe! Sorry Mark!!
There were many great performances today, but Josh Brookes with 5 tries took the eye in the backs and Cameron Beech was imperious in the forwards for the Men of the Match awards.
We then visited Ashcroft Park to cap off our day. The boys had a ride on a Military vehicle around a 4x4 course where they then did an assault course, followed by Quad-biking and Air Rifle shooting. A great day all-round, to cap a great weekend.