The Wild Geese lose – but win!

For the final game of the season, on Saturday 29th April, the Wild Geese hosted Chinnor in National League 2 South and lost by 22 points to their opponent’s 33 – regardless of what the RFU Results website says! In case the linguists amongst you think the headline is paradoxical, let me say that the Wild Geese ‘won’ by securing their place in National 2 for next season, when the results of the clubs around us were taken into account. In fact, courtesy of a try-scoring bonus point, the Wild Geese finished 13th in the league table.

Chinnor were a big side – both forwards and backs – and probably outweighed the Wild Geese in every position. They began the game by putting incessant pressure on the Wild Geese defence and were rewarded with a try after 2 minutes, which was duly converted. They repeated the dose after 10 minutes with a try to take a 12-0 lead. At this early stage the visitors looked an imposing outfit but, on their first visit to the Chinnor 22, the Wild Geese scored a good try after 13 minutes, the touch-down being claimed by hooker Carl Gibson. Six minutes later, after a line-out steal, right-wing Matt Killeen scored; it was converted by centre Ben Kitching to level the scores. The Wild Geese threatened to take the lead at this stage, two potential tries being denied to them by fractionally forward passes. On the half-hour mark, the effects of Chinnor’s weight advantage, and aggressive approach, began to tell, with lock Andy Evans having to leave the field with a knee injury. (This was but the first of Wild Geeseinjury concerns.) In stoppage time, Chinnor scored their third try – duly converted – to take a 19-12 lead into the interval.

Six minutes into the second half, Chinnor increased their lead with another converted try, and added to that in the 23rd minute with the same, to take their lead to 33-12. Any thoughts, however, that the Wild Geese might roll over and tamely succumb were null and void. Their scrum had become increasingly dominant as the game wore on and their backs had defended as if their lives depended on it. In the 40th minute, Chinnor had a player yellow-carded. The Wild Geese took full advantage from the penalty awarded, to gain a second try from Gibson. They ignored the conversion to set their stall out for the bonus point 4th try; in stoppage time tight-head prop Charlie Connor scored it, to make it a rewarding afternoon for the front row and the final score-line 22-33.

This was a good finish by the Wild Geese – battered and bruised but unbowed. The final three games saw a resolve, which – if this stance had been adopted earlier in the season – would probably have seen them in the top half of the table. It is worth noting that one has to go to the top half to find a team that had secured more try-scoring bonus points than the Wild Geese.

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This is my final match report after several years and I make no apology for my seemingly critical comments not so long ago e.g. after the Barnstaple game. These were meant to provide a metaphorical ‘kick up the backside’ and, if they had an effect, that was a positive outcome. Allied to this was a greatly improved concentration on discipline in the final games of the season. If the team can commit to the afore-mentioned resolve and levels of discipline next season, there is no reason to expect anything other than a successful sojourn in National 2 South.

John S Hunter

Martin Gammon, who edits the website, has written an appreciation of John