The Wild Geese lose out in a Scrumathon

On Saturday 18th February the Wild Geese hosted Clifton, in National League 2 South, but lost out by 12 points to 34 to the visitors, who again dominated the contest in the scrum. This was not totally surprising as they have the biggest pack of forwards in the league. What was surprising was the huge number of scrums in the game. Indeed, the contest became a ‘scrumathon’, with the occasional game of rugby breaking out.

At the base of the scrum: John S Hunter

The Wild Geese scored first, with a good try finished off by No.8 Joseph Touma, converted by wing-three-quarter Ollie Turner, to take a 7-0 lead. What was strange was that it took until 25 minutes of play had elapsed for this to occur. This was because the Wild Geese were under long periods of Clifton pressure from the kick-off, particularly in the scrum, though they gained some respite with line-out steals apart from stalwart defence. In the 34th minute, Clifton got on the scoreboard with a penalty goal. Two minutes later, the Wild Geese were yellow-carded for persistent scrum offences and that changed the game. In the 38th minute, a Clifton centre scored a good try with an incisive break, which was duly converted to give the visitors a 10-7 interval lead.

At the start of the second half Clifton missed a penalty (kicking wasn’t their strongest suit) but scored a try within 5 minutes to capitalise on the home side’s man short. They added converted tries in the 12th and 21st minutes to take an unassailable lead of 29-7, and they added a further try in the 26th minute to increase their lead. Surprisingly, the Wild Geese scrummaging was at its best in the last quarter of the game and they scored a good try by wing-three-quarter Matt Killeen in the 32minute. Turner attempted a drop goal conversion to save time, and the Wild Geese aimed for a try-scoring bonus point, without success, before full-time.

All in all, it wasn’t a very pretty sight to watch on Saturday last. While Clifton were dominant in the scrum, their play was rather pedestrian otherwise. The referee also showed little empathy with the spirit of the laws, as he regularly blew up for Clifton offences, e.g. knock-ons, when – if he had allowed play to continue to see what would transpire – the Wild Geese could have gained positive advantages, rather than the negativity of being awarded a scrum immediately each time, which was obviously no advantage at all. The one piece of good news is that the Wild Geese league placement hasn’t changed though a couple of teams edged closer to them in the table – nothing is secure at this stage.