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WMP v SWP – PSUK Plate final 2018

.WMP v SWP – PSUK Plate final 2018

Wednesday 25th April 2018 saw WMPRFC take on South Wales Police in the PSUK plate final at Stourbridge RUFC. WMP were understandably optimistic going into the game having not conceded a single point on route to the final. The realists will point out they didn’t have to play a match to reach the plate final but such minor detail shouldn’t detract from such an impressive statistic.

A healthy looking squad on the Saturday prior to the game became significantly depleted by the time Wednesday arrived. So much so that manager Nock was allegedly seen begging for players inside Wetherspoon’s in Stourbridge Town centre just before noon on match day. Having been unsuccessful, WMP were left with a bakers dozen come 15:00hrs. Unfortunately, most of those who turned out looked like they’d regularly consumed a bakers dozen of iced buns. Whilst 13 will do the job in rugby league or ‘soccerball’, it is sadly not enough when competing in a real sport such as union.

Joyfully, South Wales didn’t find themselves in a similar position, having arrived in an executive coach packed with a squad of 23 elite, young, muscular and good looking players, 5 coaching staff, 2 physios, 1 press officer and a committee of 7 intent on tearing up Broad Street into the early hours.
The early indications were that this was going to be a competitive game as both sides demonstrated slick handing  and sturdy defence. Alas, that was just the South Wales pre-match game of touch while WMP sat in the changing room eating pies and making numerous desperate phone calls to no avail.
On a 4G pitch in perfect playing conditions against an impressive outfit it was always going to be a tough ask for WMP. With 13 players, whose combined age was roughly 754 yrs and combined weight in excess of a herd of African elephants, damage limitation and playing for pride not a group of lions but actual pride were the order of the day – not a group of lions but actual pride! Sproson took the field in new fluorescent green boots that made Marsh’s gold boots appear decidedly dull – unsurprisingly they were apparently cheap. Neither pair of boots or their respective owner has any right to be on a rugby pitch. Feenan looked trimmer than normal until he was forced to breath out after the team photo was taken.
The size of the task became apparent after 10 minutes and four converted Welsh tries on the board. Those operating the scoreboard had already worked harder than for the whole of Stourbridge’s league season and their day had only just begun. Some quick maths was done and it was agreed that conceding anything under 200 would be considered a moral victory. With the introduction of Fenton on 20 minutes, when he could find his way through the apparently confusing perimeter pitch fencing, WMP finally enjoyed some possession and territory with 14 on the park. If nothing else, it meant SWP had to run further to dot down so there was more time between scores. Smithy’s re-starts become a joy to behold; considerably aided by the fact he had a lot of them to do. Sadly, Bridgewater and Lanca on the wings were sitting ducks for the incessant SWP attacking onslaught. WMP demonstrated considerable determination, pride and courage to cross the whitewash twice – Smithy and skipper Worthington going over (I think!).
Thankfully as the second half wore on the ref dispensed with the RFU rule book and replaced it with the sympathy vote. The match was brought to an early conclusion with SWP deservedly running out 97-12 winners. It was widely accepted the Met and PSNI, who contested the final straight after, would have been no match for the squad from the valleys.
A Special mention to Johnson, Simpson & Worthington, for some tenacious ball carrying in the face of an ever present defensive wall. To Western, aged 63 and after a double leg transplant, for still leaping like a spawning wild Canadian Salmon to win lineout ball. And a final quick mention of Sproson’s boots again. The team played their hearts out against insurmountable odds and should be proud of their performance.
Team – Francis Nock (Manager), Michael Worthington ©, Neil Western, Rich Allen, Greg Smith, Dave Sproson, Gaz Johnson, Dan Simpson, Alex Morris, Dave Feenan, Andy Bridgewater, Ricky Lance, Chris Turner, Richard Marsh, Dave Fenton.
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