Extra Time Trauma for Collingwood as Snow Skate on Thin Ice to Reach Final
LORCAN TREACY reports on John Snow reaching the final of the Floodlit Cup in agonising fashion for Collingwood.
John Snow 12 – 10 Collingwood (AET)
What should have been an explosive match took some time before delivering on its promise, as John Snow snuck into the final by the smallest of margins.
Despite the avalanche by which John Snow won when these two sides met in their league fixture, Collingwood started the match on the front foot. After some early pressure and strong running, they won an eminently kickable penalty just outside John Snow’s 22. However, the normally reliable Dave Sparrow was unable to open the scoring, before he had to retire due to illness.
That miss seemed to spur Snow on, and having gained possession on the halfway line a delicate box kick pushed Collingwood all the way back to their 5 metre line. James Barry and Jack Jeavons Fellows were particularly impressive for Snow, appearing to make every other carry and tackle. They sustained the pressure on Collingwood’s line and eventually Fellows rumbled over off the back of a scrum to deliver the first points of the evening. Importantly, their kicker was unable to add the extras.
The Snow try proved a flash in the pan, and for the rest of the half the game receded from its crowd-pleasing potential. Collingwood seemed to have the upper-hand, but were unable to make the most of a couple of opportunities within the Snow 22.
The second half began in a similar vein to how the first one ended, with not a lot for a match reporter to comment on. Collingwood, who had seemed to edge the first portion of the match, seemed to slightly lose their way. Snow themselves were stationed around the opposition’s 22 for sections of the match, and their pressure showed when Jack Flynn of Collingwood was sent to the bin for inappropriate behaviour at the breakdown.
Losing a man seemed to galvanise Collingwood, and after repelling a series of Snow attacks, they themselves forced their way up field. The penalty count rose rapidly in the second-half, and Collingwood were able to cause Snow grief from the simple method of punting for touch and recycling ball from their solid line-out.
It was from such a method that the side were able to level the scores. A thirty metre break from Conor Horgan eventually led to a penalty and a 5 metre line-out. It was well collected, and from the subsequent maul Rory Sanderson trundled over. This late equaliser threw the sizeable Collingwood contingent of supporters (who had been a credit to themselves all game) into ecstasy.
Hamish Elsey had the chance to win the game from the resultant conversion, but unfortunately he sliced it to the right of the posts, painfully sending the match into extra-time.
Both sets of players were out on the feet, but gathered energy from somewhere to make the next twenty minutes a complete frenzy. John Snow, buoyed by the fact they were still in the game, ran with an aggression not seen before in the match. This paid dividends as within the first 5 minutes, industrious flanker, Jack Pennell scored right beside the posts, giving their kicker the easiest of conversions.
Collingwood needed a response, and they got it. For the last 15, it was almost uninterrupted control from the team. Early in the second half of extra-time, Collingwood were able to again capitalise on their strong line-out with James Currie powering over near to the touchline. However, Hamish was unable to convert what was a very tough kick, meaning Snow remained in the lead going into the last few minutes.
Collingwood had to go for broke and decided to take every penalty kick opportunity available to them. They went for an extravagant penalty nearly on the half-way. Hamish was unable to find the posts but Collingwood’s chasers caught the ball and were held up over the line.
A very tense last few minutes were topped when Snow were penalised for hands in the ruck just to the left of the posts. Hamish Elsey had the chance to write his name into Collingwood legend, but on the last play of the match, he was again unable to make the most of the opportunity. However, the drama did not end there. The kick caught the wind and Collingwood regained the ball over the line, only for an unfortunate knock-on to deny them from what would go down as one of rugby’s most bizarre finishes.
Due to John Snow’s fans being banned from the game, the sense of anguish amongst an entirely Collingwood support was palpable, as John Snow returned to Stockton praising their luck. They will go into the final as strong favourites, but will realise they must perform better than they did here to confirm that suspicion.
Durham Tab Awards:
Man of the Match: John Snow’s number 7, Jack Jeavons Fellows, for a tireless performance. He was everywhere.
Moment of the Match: Take your pick from Collingwood’s kicks at the end of both normal and extra time.
Top Stat: John Snow have won every round in extra time.
John Snow’s Chris Morgan’s light hearted analysis of the game:
John Snow’s Jaewon Gok Jang:
It was a tight contest from the first whistle with Collingwood boys giving us no space to play the ball. We were making things hard for ourselves, conceding too many penalties in crucial parts of the game and getting punished for it with tries from Collingwood. But a lot of positives from our boys, playing some champagne rugby at parts and displaying some good defensive pressure – which is what we’ve been working on all year. Full credit to Collingwood but fortunately we came away with the win.
Collingwood’s Fresher Hooker, Rory Sanderson, on an emotional result for him and his team: