This evening was the final match in our Touch league and tonight’s clash of the titans pitted the team at the bottom of the league against the second bottom team (us) in a match with everything riding on it. OK, not everything perhaps, no relegation at stake, no loss of TV millions, nobody’s livelihood on the line, but still there was a strong incentive to try to avoid the not-very-coveted wooden spoon.
That we had been the worst two teams this summer wasn’t in doubt – the hackneyed old cliché “the table never lies” was spot on in this case – you only had to look at the number of tries conceded by each of us prior to this evening for the truth to emerge. We’d conceded 59 in 6 games and our opponents 69. So on that basis were we on for a 15-14 thriller?
Well, no, not really – what that assumption ignores is the paucity of both teams’ try-scoring capabilities. We’d managed 23 tries in our 6 games and our opponents 3 fewer, and once the game started it was obvious that the reason behind these unimpressive stats was that both sides were lacking real pace.
As fewer of our number turned out this evening, the opportunities to sub on and off were limited – I took a couple of breathers in a fairly frenetic first half where both teams lacked discipline and organisation and then, having turned round 5-4 up at half time, played the whole of the second half without struggling. I’d love to put this down to my massively improved fitness, but the truth is that the game wasn’t played at a particularly taxing pace and, although we spent much of the second half defending, it was relatively easy to do so as there was no pace to defend against.
We ended up tasting victory (8-5) for only the second time in this campaign and so avoided the wooden spoon. The past seven weeks have just flown by and, although some of our play and especially our defending (and by “our” I definitely include myself) has been frustrating, it’s still been hugely enjoyable and I’d say I’ve certainly played more of an active part than I did last year (which possibly explains our problems!).
Touch isn’t entirely finished – I think there are a couple of weeks of turning up and playing informally before pre-season kicks in for the club. I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll try to get involved further. Part of me really wants to give it a go and commit to playing a game a month next season at veterans level, but another part of me thinks the first part of me is barking mad.