Rovers 26 – 29 SCC
Sat 30th Nov 2019
New Squad Different Day
Rovers vs SCC Lions
30 November 2019
Driven by a growing list of unavailability due to injury, exams and work, a full third of the Rovers squad from Game 1 were asked to either start or bench for the Gents against SCC 1st no less. With Irfan and Shafiq out having having injured themselves AND Fender, not throwing caution to the wind, not playing on the day of his daughter’s 3rd birthday, thereby avoiding the wrath of the gods (and retaining some highly valued body parts), the call went out across the club as it was going to be ‘one of those weekends…’
Fortunately the depth of the Rovers squad, some schedule juggling, a couple of Wrinklies putting their hands up, Crispy deciding that coaching from the middle of the paddock is the way of the future, and 12 changes from the previous week, a strong team was assembled for the day.
Specials thanks go out to Ramadan and Khai for coming down to support and helping out on the sidelines.
Once again with minimal training time, “She’ll be right on the day” and “Nice to meet you! What’s your name again?” were rapidly becoming the catch phrases for the Rovers start to the season!
Scotty, stepping into Fenders size 13s as captain for the day, rallied the troops in good time to prepare for the assault on the fortress of arrogance. Faced with the Bikramesk sweatbox that is the Dempsey cauldron when its 33+, no cloud cover and the humidity is hovering around 70%, the warm up took place in a 3 meter square patch of shade.
Bloody hell it was hot.
1st Half: Willing but Flawed
Rovers once again started strongly and by capitalising on effective interaction between forwards and backs, set up camp in the SCC red zone for a good 10 phases of play. A brain fart in attack resulted in a turn over by SCC allowing them to clear their lines.
SCC reverted to type, relying on their heavier pack to trundle it up and using box kicks from the resulting breakdown to try and break the line. Rovers were well up to the task, audible reminders from the sidelines “no f&%king kicking” inspiring them to run it back at them. On attack again. Moments later an isolated Rover’s runner was turned over, a well executed SCC clearing kick and a valiant but misguided attempt to keep the ball alive and counter attack resulted in the first 5 pointer to SCC, who promptly missed the conversion from out wide.
5 – 0 SCC
On the ensuring restart, Rovers worked the ball down the paddock and set up a sniping run by Ficky from half back to open the Rovers account for the day. Conversion missed – obviously not a day for the kickers.
Rovers traded possession and field position with SCC before the water break with neither side being able to convert pressure into points. A couple of very promising attacks broke down at the last minute leaving Rovers without reward. After a lengthy period of attacking play, a communication breakdown in the Rovers’ defensive set up gifted a try to SCC near the mid point of the first half.
10 – 5 SCC
This spurred Rovers to up the ante and press the attack, our forwards and backs working well together for the most part but balls lost in contact removed the sting from any pressure they were able to mount. One of the turn overs resulting in an SCC converted try near the half time break. All the momentum swinging the way of SCC, starting to look like we are on a hiding to nothing.
Half Time 17 – 5 SCC
2nd Half: Determination and Spirit
A couple of words at half time from the coaches and a gee up from Scotty at half time saw a determined Rovers side return to the field for the 2nd half. You could feel a change in the team – better rotation of the reserves to keep the legs fresh and a significant step up in accuracy in defence and attack saw the momentum immediately swing back in favour of the Rovers. As the pressure mounted and in a preview of events that would unfold later in the day, SCC chucked their toys out of the pram with 2 yellow cards in quick succession, the half back for a high tackle and the 2nd rower for back chat to the ref about 2 minutes later.
This time Rovers, with their tails up, were able to convert numerical superiority into points. Ficky scored first with a sublime half back show and go which was converted by Ali. This was followed by a try to Josh Thorny in a quintessential flanker’s bash and dash which was also converted. Suddenly we’re in the lead.
19 – 17 Rovers
About this time our resident French flanker cum centre decides he needs a breather either that or he’s going to treat the world to a repurposed, recycled meal of cheese and red wine somewhere about mid field. Needless to say he was immediately subbed. Welcome to rugby in the tropics Clem! After a herculean effort by Azfar and Hazwan in the engine room, Bukakke took the field in the 2nd row where he promptly channeled the Harbour Bridge at scrum time until he tweaked a knee at a break down and had to come off.
A tense passage of play resumed with SCC, back to full strength, gaining some ascendancy in the scrums and getting the rub of the green by putting on two more tries both of which were uncovered.
29 – 19 SCC
Crispy subbed on to help steady the ship, Francisco retook the field after a strong shift by Shamil at hooker (and unbeknownst to the coaching staff having broken his thumb earlier in the game), Sean Lim playing out of his skin, the Rovers pulled out all the stops to claw back the deficit knowing only the clock would stop them from posting a win over SCC. Despite tired legs, a growing list of walking wounded, the Rovers played themselves back into the game. Bash and dash by the forwards coupled with dynamic runs by the back cumulated in a try to Kyle, again converted.
With all to play for the closing period of the match was played as if the Rovers hadn’t just played 70 minutes in the blazing sun but just couldn’t get across the line. And to balance the cards out Josh managed to pick up a yellow card for boot to ball and spent all of 30s in the bin before the ref called time.
Final Score: 29-26 to SCC
A massive step up across the board from the week before. A spectacular effort in hot and trying conditions. Great depth in the squad which we will need to get through the rest of the season as we continue to build towards a semi-final birth and hopefully a crack at defending our title.
Congrats to those Rovers who stepped up to the Gents:
Justin | Kenny | Sammy | Min | JQ | Kyle | Sean | Azfar
Welcome to the Rovers / Wanderer Debutants
Hazwan | Ian Hamad | Clem | Adli | Izzu
Best and Fairest
3 points to Sean Lim
2 points to Kyle
1 point each to Afzar and Hazwan for an inspiring shift in the boiler room
Au Revoir Transdisco but Not Goodbye
And last but certainly NOT least it was the last game for Francisco before he moves his family to Brisvegas in December and continue his Wanderers linked rugby career at Wests alongside former Wanderers. He wanted his last game to be against Bucks but sadly wasn’t to be.
Francisco made an immediate impact upon joining Wanderers at the beginning of 2016 and over the years has played Gent, Rovers and Wrinkles. One of the first on the team sheet. A constant thorn in the side of any opposing team. An excellent tourist. And living proof that Argentina does not hold the monopoly on producing bloody good South American footy players.
Til the next round of Pisco sours – Once a Wanderer always a Wanderer.
Viajes seguros mi amigo!