Aire wrap up season with fabulous tour
By Granville Sellers
Honours even in 2 tough matches
Aire travelled to the North East to take on tough opposition on both Saturday & Sunday.
First up on Saturday were Darlington and it wasn't lost on the Aire lads that they had some giants in their ranks. Aire thought they had got off to a flier, when centre Josh Wood (sporting trade mark tight shorts) made a maizy run and crossed the whitewash, only to be called back for a marginal in touch decision. Aire were not to be deterred and another Josh Wood run and offload put Sammy Woodley in space, to score the opener. Aire were still on the bus at the re-start and some rather hapless tackling led to a rather quick equaliser to make it 5 all.
The game swung like a pendulum, with Aire next to score through Sammy followed by Darlington , with neither converted to make 10-10. Aire's No 8 Joe Priestley has been on fire this season and it looked like he had scored the winner with a trademark barrelling effort under the sticks; however the conversion hoodoo continued with another miss. Darlington weren't about to capitulate and stretched Aire's defence, with some neat play. The ball found Darlo's pacey winger, who gassed Aire's would be tacklers to score under the posts and the conversion was notched over. With only a minute remaining Aire showed guile with the ball in hand to release Josh Wood on another run; however Darlo scrambled to prevent the winner. It finished 17-15 to Darlington and the Aire lads were disappointed as they they had enough chances to win the game.
Aire had opportunity for redemption, with another game against Darlington combined with Mowden Park and this time the lads were desperate to seize their opportunity. Things didn't go to plan when the hosts scored the opener to make it 5-0 with only minutes gone. Aire went back to basics and the pack got on the front foot, with Vaughan Reeves, Tommy Rollinson & Jake Baker getting over the gain line. Aire scored a quick fire brace, with Joe Priestley bagging the first followed by centre Josh Wood, who nipped over courtesy of neat backs move. Hooker Eddie Farnell was all over the park and he took his chance after a bulldozing charge by Vaughan Reeves make it 5-19.
Aire's big squad of 23 was rotated during the game, which caused a little disruption but the likes of Tom Ayrton ,Ollie Nicholson, Tom Hirst and Ollie Flaxman settled the ship. Eddie found himself tussling for the ball on the line and showed great strength to wrestle it free and score a deserved try.. The hosts managed to stretch Aire once more and crossed for the last try so it finished 26-10 to Aire.
The teams then played some 10 a side, which Aire dominated throughout. There were some stand out players, with Jack Higgings, Freddie Pullan and Felix impressing. The highlights were Tom Hirst's 80m score (missed by his dad who was in the bar) and prop Vaughan Reeves toe poking over the last conversion of the game.
Aire were voted the team of the day and scooped up the shield as reward. Thanks to Darlington & Mowden Park for making the day such fun and all 3 teams can be proud of their efforts.
Sunday 5th May
A battered and bruised Aire travelled the short distance to Stockton, who are one of the strongest teams in the area. The game got off to a tense start, with Stockton having the majority of possession and territory, but Aire's defence was organised. Aire forced some mistakes and using big runners Jonny Ivory , Tommy Rollinson, Vaughan Reeves & Calum Diamond they began to work their pods and stretch Stockton. The collisions were fierce, with both teams playing smart rugby & probing for an opening. The ball found Sammy in midfield, who put in a kick which wasn't fielded by the hosts. Sammy recovered the ball and had the pace to score, which was converted. Stockton hit back almost immediately and scored a well taken converted try 7-7.
Aire then lost influential back Jacob Bevan to a knee injury, with Tom Ayrton replacing him on the wing. Aire managed to get the ball back and neat distribution by Spencer and Harvey Sellers released Tom Ayrton on the left. Tom made a great run and was eventually hauled down on the 22m line; however a stray boot to the face caused the game to be stopped for a blood replacement, with Gus Smith now on. This break took the sting out of Aire and Stockton hit Aire on the counter, to seize the lead 12-7.Time was winding down, but with only a couple of minutes left, Sammy burst through and galloped in for the equaliser.
Fresh legs (and knees) were needed, so the squad was rotated , but Aire were a little cold from the re-start and Stockton scored an immediate try. The Aire lads were beginning to flag, but their effort were epitomised by hooker Eddie Farnell, who tracked back 40m to make an immense covering tackle to prevent a certain score.Ciaran Bonner shored upp the scrum, but errors began to creep in, which were ruthlessly seized upon by Stockton. Winger Tom Cutts made scything run, but was held up 15m out. Stockton proved to have too much accuracy and closed out the game to win 31-12.
All the Aire lads put in a shift, but it was in for no8 Joe Priestley who won the man of the match award voted by Stockton.
This capped off a great weekend, which saw Aire take 23 lads on tour and represent the club. Team bonding was exceptional and friendships will be made for years to come.
Aire are an evolving side, who have improved drastically since the opening match of the season. The win ratio is 75% and the lads will be a force to be reckoned with next season.