Keble claim early advantage in title race

first_imgRUGBY is rarely light-hearted, particularly when previous battles are fresh in the memory. Disappointingly for Teddy Hall, Keble reasserted last year’s dominance, eventually winning comfortably over their rivals on a grim afternoon in the Parks. Ultimately, cries of “keep scrapping” were the only realistic calls of encouragement in a game that was not a great advertisement for rugby before the World Cup Final.Hall could not find a response to Keble who played with the kind of determination and flair that won them both the cuppers and league titles last year. As a result of the soggy conditions, neither side was able to gain momentum early on, with both teams resorting to England’s tactic of converting penalties in order to get points on the board. Teddy Hall had the first try scoring opportunity, attacking with a pace reminiscent of last season’s Sevens success before eventually squandering their overlap by conceding a penalty. This was one of the few moments of fluency in the first half, with both teams preferring to kick in order to minimise handling errors.  Some of the kicks were individual to say the least, backs and forwards alike attempting to punt the ball into the opposing half, with many achieving unusual flight paths to get to their destination. The second-half signalled a turning point in the game, with Keble realising the advantage inherent in the weight of their pack. Missing two of their front row, Teddy Hall’s resolve was no match for the size and brute force of Keble’s forwards, who came to life after the break. Spearheaded by Bob Pittan, whose game is reminiscent of the colossal bruisers of the 1970s,  it is difficult to envisage a stronger unit on the college circuit. Pittan is bearded and frightening, assuming an aura comparable to that of the iconic Frenchman Sebastien Chabal. Like a hippo, the Keble stalwart relished the wet conditions, loitering at the back of the lineout, before devouring any loose ball. Fortunately for Hall, the uncontested scrums prevented their opponents from asserting their physical dominance in this area as well. It is difficult to see how the home side’s makeshift pack would have won much of their own put in.Pittan was also instrumental in Keble’s first try, characteristically driving up the centre of the field with his comrades, until reaching their target under the posts. For the second week running, the victors were then gifted the opportunity to play against fewer players, when Hall lost a man to the sin bin midway through the second half. This was one of a series of occasions when the referee had to call upon his whistle, with both sides being found guilty of handling errors and indiscipline. Buoyed by this advantage, Keble then assumed dominion over their opponents, grasping every opportunity to run at Teddy Hall’s stoic defence. The score masks the fact that Teddy Hall competed for the vast majority of the game, scoring first early on in the second half. Nor was the game a true reflection of things to come, with both sides missing key players to university commitments. Hall’s quest for a first win of the season continues away at Catz on Saturday lunchtime, before Tuesday’s visit to a St. Peter’s side which is again staring relegation in the face. Keble, though, can enjoy the week ahead with the satisfaction of having defeated their rivals once again. Onlookers were surprised not to hear the habitual cry of “Hall” down the tunnel from the Teddies, whose players recognise that they will henceforth have to find more meaningful ways of humiliating their opponents.last_img read more

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