Baildon 2nd XV vs Aireborough Crusaders 7-31
By James Underwood
A New Year and The Start of a New Crusade! By Matty Jones
Full bellies, overworked livers and unused gym memberships. These are the symptoms of the festive period for most people and Yorkshire’s rugby players are no exception. So what better way to get back into action than a merit league game between two local rivals eager to make 2019 their year. The Crusaders traveled in high spirits and high numbers with 22 players making the trip to Jenny Lane knowing there was a very real chance of making it 3 wins in a row against their rivals.
The game started at a ferocious pace as the energy amassed through countless slices of turkey was used up quickly. Early pressure from the Crusaders saw them have possession in good territory and after 5 minutes a turnover ball saw play switched quickly from one side to the other by the Aireborough backline. The result was a dash to the line for full back David Krushell who scored in the corner under pressure from a overing defence. The amazement at this point wasn’t in that Aireborough had scored but that sleep deprived Krushell was able to make it to the line without a nap. Given that he forgot to do this during the game with the traditional thumb sucking celebration, we will dedicate the try on his behalf to his 2 week old daughter Phoebe.
A touch of fatigue crept into the Aireborough camp shortly after the unconverted try as communication dropped and silly penalties forced Aireborough to defend for long periods. Respite came in the form of strong running from the pack but players in all positions were guilty of trying to force passes or dropping the ball in dangerous areas.
Eventually a moment of hard work paid off for Aireborough as, in the 34th minute, Si Wilson and Granville Sellers forced a charge down inside the Baildon 22. Numerous attempts were made to force the ball over the line from the back of the ruck but eventually a moment of clarity
from winger Luke Buchan arose through the mass of bodies and the madness of forwards screaming for the ball all around him, he spotted in the distance fly half Matty Jones. He threw the ball out to Jones who was forced by a charging Baildon defender to step inside and found himself suddenly with a clear section of try line in front of him. The try was scored and converted his own try to send Aireborough into half-time with a deserved lead.
HT 0 - 12
Despite all the positives, the Crusaders knew they would have to work even harder in the second half to keep a potentially dangerous Baildon side quiet. Captain James Underwood called for an extra 10% in the work rate especially around the ruck in attack. The effect of these words was immediate and Aireborough again made an early score. This time it was a move started inside the Crusaders half as a draw and pass created acres of space for Krushell to gallop into. Some say it’s his advancing years, others the trials of new found fatherhood, the result was that time/energy (and most of the Baildon team) caught up with Krushell midway into the Baildon half. Help was on hand as an offload to inside centre Iain Craven and a timely wide pass to outside centre Tony Clitheroe saw the ball over the line to extend Aireborough’s lead. Jones again put the ball between the sticks to convert the try.
The game entered a period of end to end rugby with Baildon using a tactic of kicking to try and pin Aireborough down while the Crusaders used quick passing and strong running from an energetic backline to make impressive yards upfield. After another break around the outside of the Baildon defence by Krushell gave Aireborough territory, they set about keeping possession and set up a score that would destroy the Baildon resistance. That score came from substitute forward James Young who despite being left isolated and surrounded by opposing defenders, forced his way over the line from 15 meters out. The conversion made the score 26-0 in Aireborough’s favour and the question now became, with 24 minutes toto go, could the Crusaders keep Baildon scoreless on their home ground for a 2nd year running?
Baildon threw everything at the Crusaders’ defence in the last 20 minutes but they held firm and even found the energy to counter attack as another break upfield gave Aireborough field position. After a few attempted pick and go’s, the ball was again shipped out to fly half Jones who used a cut out ball (over the desperate hands of Iain Craven) to find Tony Clitheroe who scored his second of the game out wide on the right hand side. The conversion was narrowly missed and attentions once again turned to keeping the opposition scoreless.
Ill discipline once again crept into the Aireborough play with special attention being paid to flanker Kamran Aslam by the referee for offside and infringements around the ruck. The boot of Baildons fly half saw them deep in Aireborough’s half with 2 minutes left on the clock and as another penalty for offside was kicked to touch words of warning were being directed at the young flanker to keep his nose clean until the end. Straight after the resulting lineout the breakthrough for Baildon would come via their scrum half who threw a dummy so outrageous that it made Orville look real. He sprinted through the defence and made his way towards the posts before touching the ball down under pressure from Kamran. Unfortunately Kamran let his enthusiasm get the better of him as he tried to use his boot to stop the ball from hitting the ground, an action that brought back a quote originally used earlier in the season by Ben Middleton “Kamran, you d%*#h$*#”. What happened next was a melee behind the pitch and into the neighbouring bushes as both teams tried to pull their players apart. The referee swiftly sent both Kamran and the scrum half to the sin bin for their actions knowing that neither would return to the field with only a minute left on the clock.
The conversion was kicked and on the way to the kick off the focus for Aire was to score again before the final whistle and that goal was nearly reached as in the final seconds Iain Craven picked up a loose ball and made his way to the line from 40 meters out. Despite a great start and plenty of encouragement from his team mates, Craven just couldn’t stretch those wooden hamstrings and was brought down meters from the line a knock on at the ruck saw the referee blow for full time and a great wave of relief sweep over the Crusaders. The win wasn’t quite as convincing as it could have been but having not played in nearly a month it was a welcome feeling to beat the local rivals.
FT 7 - 31
MOM - in a game where the collective work rate and spirit shone through, not many individual performances stood out among the rest. Honourable mentions go to centres Tony Clitheroe for his 2 tries and solid defensive work and Iain Craven who defended well and used his passing skills to great effect to set up tries, but most amazingly managed to play a full 80 minutes without breaking a glass bone or splintering a wooden hamstring. More mentions also to all 4 wingers who played with all of them having regular attacking opportunities, a trait that Crusaders team are not particularly known for. However this weeks man of the match performance deservedly goes to full back David Krushell who's dynamic running was a problem throughout the 80 minutes and constant communication helped the Aireborough defence to hold firm for most of the game. No better way to celebrate his daughters birth than a performance that she can be proud of.