The Cuppers champions seem to have picked up where they left off last year smashing Trinity/LMH and laying down a marker for the season to come. Last year’s Cuppers victory came as a surprise to some and Teddy Hall are keen to make it clear that they are the force in First Division rugby now. Trinity/LMH had a huge task ahead of them having lost thirteen of last year’s squad and struggled to find some cohesion against tough opposition and but for gritty defence by the Trinity/LMH pack could have been sadly humiliated. It was also an opportunity to see how the newly instated ELVs affected the teams, but in a game in which the lineout was crucial and several driven mauls were on show they seem to have had little impact as yet.
In good conditions, the early game was riddled with errors, as one would expect in a season opener, both sides playing 10 man rugby. Unfortunately, Teddy Hall were forced to request uncontested scrums thereby incurring a five point penalty but this did little to affect the aggression of the forward battle. If anything Trinity/LMH had the better of the early exchanges, in particular blindside flanker Doug Riddle making his presence felt. However, a penalty for offside in the ruck saw Teddy Hall set up a lineout on the 22 and good mauling from the forwards allowed scrum half Justin Ibbett to skip through and score under the posts effectively making the score nil-all.
The game continued to be forward dominated, the Teddy Hall pack providing another try, both back lines seemingly lacking direction. A sustained period of pressure on the Teddy Hall line by the Trinity/LMH pack, led again by Riddle, the standout player of the side, was matched by determined Teddy Hall defence. A clever kick to the corner was well covered by the Teddy Hall back three and Trinity/LMH were denied their first points of the match. In possession again, quick hands up the right wing seemed to clear the way to the line but a try saving Tackle from winger Matt Betney denied Teddy Hall their second try. Teddy Hall were on the front foot however and minutes later fullback William Herbert crossed near the posts. Teddy Hall’s backline seemed to have found some rhythm and Herbert was once again seemingly away only to be brought down by another crucial tackle by Betney. However, the sustained pressure took its toll as Trinity/LMH’s troubles were increased when Captain Will Mackintosh left the field with a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Ibbett continued to set the tempo for Teddy Hall but a powerful run by the Trinity/LMH hooker set up a converted try for the visitors in the closing minutes of the half. The Trinity/LMH Backline seemed to take heart and a good passage of play saw them move up the field only for a loose pass to be intercepted by Teddy Hall outside centre Angus Eames to score under the posts. Halftime score, 17-7.
Teddy hall wasted no time in the second half scoring straight from the restart and utterly crushing the any momentum Trinity/LMH had built up. Dogged defence stalled successive Teddy Hall attacks but eventually clever work by Ibbett created another try near the corner and the game became a case of damage limitation.
Trinity/LMH’s pack continued to stick to the task and was bolstered by the surprise return of their captain to the field seemingly unfazed by his injury. But Teddy Hall were in full swing and creeping back in towards the end of the match.
This was by no means a perfect performance by Teddy Hall but they have laid the strongest foundations for the season to come. Trinity/LMH on the other hand can take comfort from the impressive performance of their pack but must find some adherence and penetration in their backline if they are to make this season a success. Final Score 51-12.