Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Emphatic win for the Blues!  Papa John’s Shield is theirs!

An emphatic win for the Blues – 25:8 against Gravesend in the final – means they have brought home the Papa John’s Cup Region 2 Shield.

Travelling to the Dings Crusaders RFC ground, in Frenchay (just outside Bristol), with an impressive gang of several hundred supporters, you could only be impressed by the immaculate artificial turf pitch alongside modern facilities, with a great stand.  But the 22 degrees Celsius heat wasn’t really rugby, and the two teams in blue and dark were confusingly stripey.

The Blues made a, frankly, dodgy start.  Within the first three minutes, they had a man sent to the sin bin.  Probably harsh and no-one could quite say why but still…  Seven minutes in, Gravesend scored a try (but didn’t convert).  Three minutes later they made up for it with a penalty.  Eight points on the board.

Not too long after, the Blues’ Captain, Dan Thorne, pulled three points back with his own penalty.  Reasons to be cheerful.  But the windy conditions played havoc with the normally trusty Captain’s boot and several attempts at the posts from the 17th minute to the 35th came to nothing.  By then, the Blues seemed to be making all the rugby for no return, repeating silly little mistakes; I lost count of the number of knock-ons.

Then, they turned it around.  At 37minutes, a try and a conversion.  We stood at 10:8.

Blues fans know all too well not to take anything for granted.  A two-point lead isn’t remotely “safe”.

They edged forward 7 minutes into the second half with a penalty and then a try (hitting the post with the kick for the conversion).  Suddenly, the Blues were all over their opponents, with fabulous tackles, power in the scrum and stunning rolling mauls.  Gravesend to their credit staged a bit of a recovery with ten minutes or so to go but it delivered nothing to their score.

The Blues produced a classy victory moment with a wide try in injury time.  Given the preceding 80 minutes, it was a joyous surprise when Dan Thorne converted it for the 7 points from the widest possible angle.  The whistle blew at 25:8.

Several players had great games.  George Robinson-Slater was man of the match. Jonny Lees was immense.  Notable contributions came from Oli Rhoades, Tom Cole, Harry Waye-Branch and Dan Thorne.

Roll on next season.  Come on you Blues!

Photos by kind permission of Peter Branch