It had been a bonanza of a week, with a hard-fought TRU semi final played on the Thursday, the Southerners club ball on the Friday and then Saturday night shenanigans over a few beers watching NZ smash England and Wales edge past Australia. Sunday came around and most blokes were wondering if their vital signs were in order.
A dry Patana pitch greeted a squad of seventeen million Bangers players and 11 Southerners. Injuries and the weekend’s activities had obviously taken their toll, so much so that at the end of the match, there weren’t enough fit Southerners available to get through the two slabs of post-match cans – a travesty of regal proportions.
The Bangers kept with the spirit of expat rugby by donating four of their players, including Canada’s second-most capped prop Eddie Evans and a trio of ball-tearing young blokes – all players put in a valuable performance against their mates – well appreciated from the rest of the Southerners crew.
The game started off as competitively as two single farang chicks at a Bangkok speed-dating night.
Both sides pushed hard for field position and pressure, eventually resulting in a few penalties kicked, ours by Hooey. After some consistent team pressure with pick and drives on the Bangers’ line, Belly managed to get underneath a couple of defenders to score, with Hooey’s conversion bringing an added boost to the 10-6 scoreline.
We found ourselves defending for most of the rest of the first half, with the Bangers continued their hard-running pick and drive assault – a strategy earning them a try just before half time.
Skinny admirably put his body on the line time and time again to pull off some cracking tackles. His chat about the park also got the team well organized and confident.
The second half began much as the first, with field position and kicking being the order of the day. The Bangers got good continuity with their pick and drives as we enjoyed a shitload of tackling and counter-rucking.
Twenty minutes in, Hooey’s male-modeling career came to a crashing, splitting halt. Ritchie and Hooey were both darting back to retrieve a loose ball when Ritchie’s skull intervened, leaving Hooey’s right eyebrow 17 stitches worse for wear.
According to the Southerners’ venerable military historian Bob Ball, 18th century women of the Napoleonic era once found men with large sabre-like cuts to their body innately alluring and that such marks were measures of one’s character and bravery. In the 21st century, we’re sure this translates into “chicks dig scars”, so all can’t be too bad for Hooey.
The set pieces also came under a fair amount of pressure throughout the match. In the scrum, a large Bangers pack were at times split, popped and pushed back, however they were more consistent, putting lashings of pressure on our backline. Props Laurent, Brian and Sultan still did a terrific job against a well-skilled and experienced pack. The lineouts were a bit wayward though, with Belly’s throws resembling those from a one-armed retarded Cambodian bargirl.
Hooey’s absence and the team’s exhaustion with just two subs available started to take effect in the final 15 minutes, helping the Bangers run away with three additional tries. Up until that point, we were able to get ourselves out of trouble through Hooey’s talented boot in general play and some barnstorming runs by Ritchie, Brian and Nick.
Despite being unable to play, Gearing ensured the sideline was well stocked with words of encouragement…the big man was clearly energized after some Crepes & Cuddles with his girlfriend at Crepes & Co Café prior to the match. Ten points as well for his rockstar silver aviators.
Steve ‘Belly’ Bell
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