So I survived! And what a great day it was. I don’t think its really sunk in yet that I’ve played at kingsholm and it might be a while before it really does. But it certainly is a day I won’t forget anytime soon.
We lost the game not surprisingly 46 – 17 but everyone absolutely played their hearts out and ran themselves into the ground. I am so proud of the effort of all the lads and it really is a top, top team to be involved in.
The day started off with being treated to Gloucester v Sale, where sadly Gloucester lost, but it was fun to banter with the lads, who seemed relaxed before the game. Shortly before the end of the game we had to go and get ready. Soon it was time to wait and lead the team out. It was only then, that I got nervous. I don’t think I took in the run out, it was unreal to walk onto a pitch where so many of my heroes have played. It was just sheer noise, and I felt nervous as we warmed up before the game. Soon though it was time for the kick off.
The pace of the game was unreal and the intensity a step up from the last few years. The pitch was huge and we were being run ragged. But I thought we fronted up and held our own. It wasn’t long before the Pickers sneaked into the lead however the lads put their bodies on the line defensively and we held them and we had a great effort going forward. Eventually we broke and Andy Tee was able to cross the line and put us within 2 points.
Annoyingly in the build up to the try I presented the ball and my hand got stood on and soon ballooned in size, so I had to go off for a bit of treatment:
Luckily our top Phyiso Maria was able to strap it up and I got back on. During my time off the pickers cross again and we went into the second half losing but not by much. Half time we tried to focus and talk about how this was it and if we didn’t come off the pitch exhausted we didn’t deserve to be there. Everyone had been fronting up tackling giving it all they had and fully committed to the cause. It was hard to ask for much more.
The second half however the Cherrypickers went into another gear and were running some incredible lines, tackled like demons, and rucked us out the game. One maul they formed was unstoppable and they soon crossed. This was followed by some more quick fire scores. However we kept battling and Andy and our nine Danny Ryland were able to score and we kept battling, no one gave up and no one wanted to leave anything on the park.
Soon it was time for the last play, we went at it like mad desperate for one last score, but we just couldn’t get it. The Cherrypickers turned us over and broke, soon I was tracking across to try and tackle Martin Roberts, a centre v a prop it was a miss match and he turned me inside out, I tried everything to get near him but just couldn’t.
It will be my one regret of the day that I couldn’t stop him, Dale did brilliantly to track back and nearly stop him but it wasn’t enough, I had to keep going though just in case and busted my arse to get back but just couldn’t. The whistle went soon after and it was over.
It was a great great day and everyone went for it, no one could have put in anymore effort. A big thank you to Tony Robinson and Paul Routledge who stepped in at short notice to help with subs and played their arses off. No one had a bad game and everyone can hold their head high.
I’m so lucky to play with a great bunch of lads and feel blessed to call them all my mates.I felt I played ok I carried the ball a few times and ran as hard as I could, my tackling still needs work but carried into contact as well as I could. I still have a bit to learn as a captain but hopefully I will keep developing there.
For some reason Paul named me man of the match, I think this was because the other contenders weren’t there but I was honoured none the less, but it was definately undeserved. It did mean I had to wear a very stupid hat and as you can see Em was less than impressed.
It was a great night with a few too many beers, but it was nice to see so many friends and to cap off a day I will never forget. We have so far raised over a grand for the charity a great effort.
So today thankfully the swelling on my hand has gone down but it is still very sore and bruised.
Luckily it should clear up before next tuesday and the ride which is where my focus now turns. I’ve got a week to prepare and lots to do still. The nerves are now starting to kick in and I’m sure this will be a week of going through the emotions.
But thats for tomorrow, but for now and for a long time, I can reflect on an amazing achievement by me and a lot of top top guys who deserved the moment yesterday. I’m so proud of all of them and they are great great mates. I am so grateful to everyone who stayed and watched, and to Em who has put up with a lot over all of this who has cheered me on and been there the whole way with me.
So thank you shedweb lions, I love you all and phase one of my big month has been successfully completed thanks to you.