Next Game: Aug 18th vs Vaughan Yeomen @ Sunnybrook. 12 noon kick off

Roundheads and Cavaliers

Several years ago an editorial in The Times of London, referencing the English Civil War, posited that at heart most people remain Roundheads or Cavaliers. It argued that Roundheads believed in the separation of church and state, parliamentary supremacy and the market economy whilst Cavaliers believed in the throne, altar and the organic nation-family. In the modern vernacular this has been distilled down to Roundheads being deemed pragmatic and slightly dull with Cavaliers being seen as daring, charismatic and probably best not left alone with ones sister. 
Watching Saturday’s game one was reminded of this article as Bay Street and Belleville locked horns again in the first round of the playoffs. Belleville were well drilled, immensely powerful, brave in the tackle and posed the Pigs real problems particularly in the opening quarter. They have undoubted stardust sprinkled across their team particularly at out half and fullback but were Belleville had a couple of attacking threats Bay Street simply had more and could call on both forwards and backs to regularly dissect their opponents running out victors by a scoreline of 51-17. 
Belleville came to play and tore into the Pigs from the off tackling in 2s and 3s and preventing Bay Street from getting go-forward ball. They threatened will ball-in-hand too and it took some exceptional tackling from Aaron Blunt, Taylor Zak and Nick de Lallo to thwart promising breaks. Gradually though Bay Street began to feel their way into the game. With Spencer Morgan controlling the game at 10 the forwards began to progress from half-yard to 1 yard rumbles and the backs started to probe for any weaknesses in the defensive line. From one of these James de Ree carried into the opposition half and from the ruck The Beast, Max Grouette, does what a beast does and made serious ground. Inside Belleville’s 22 now Blunt’s dazzling footwork beat several defenders and Graham O’Neill’s resulting offload to The Beast saw him drag a defender over the line to score only for the referee to call it back for a forward pass. That is was called back did not matter. Bay Street had proved that they could take the best Belleville could throw at them and hit back. Belleville cleared from the scrum but Bay Street had the lineout. De Ree claimed the throw and the pack drove forward. de Lallo broke from the back of the maul and through a tackle to open the scoring. 
The second try came just a couple of minutes afterwards. Dave Reilly, sporting a scrum cap as crimson as his hair, went on one of his customary charges. Ian Davies and and Grouette cleared the ruck with extreme prejudice and quick ball to Morgan saw the ball whipped out to Tommy Stokes. John Gotti was known as the ‘Teflon Don’ in reference to the failure to make any charge ’stick’. On Saturday it appeared that Stokes was covered in the stuff as his ability to wrong-foot defenders and slip through the most determined of tackles was mesmerizing. Gliding through three tackles Stokes was eventually hauled down by his opposite number just short of the line but not before he off-loaded to the supporting Morgan was scored in the corner. 
Sniffing blood Bay Street attacked again through Reilly. De Ree and Davies combined to eat up territory and as if Belleville hadn’t enough to deal with they then had to face Joe Flagler. Watching Flagler is reminiscent of Kyle Reece’s line in the Terminator; "Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” Dead is a bit extreme in this case but Flagler just does not stop until he absolutely is. Three defenders to stop him means there are gaps to be exploited and so it proved. Morgan shipped the ball out to Taylor Nash on the wing. Nash, with a body by Michelangelo and hair by Vidal Sassoon, stood his winger up before rounding him and scoring under the posts. 
 
Belleville did not give up and looked to get their fullback into play at every opportunity. Big, strong and dangerous on the ball it took some huge tackles by Zak in the 13 channel to snuff this danger out. When Zak departed injured after one of these bone shakers it necessitated a backline reshuffle that the Bulldogs took advantage of to open their account. 17-5 at the half and Bay Street looked good. 
 
The second half produced more of the same. Big rumbles by the pack with the backline benefiting from the gaps. De Ree made a big tackle on halfway and the ball was quickly turned over. Morgan found Stokes who ghosted past defenders releasing Jordan Partridge on his outside. Brought down a meter from the line. The ball was moved wide with Blunt receiving the ball with his back to the line. Incredibly he took the pass and spun through two tacklers who were tight on him before using his strength to power through the last defender to score. 
 
The pack were really getting on top now. The enormously impressive de Lallo and De Ree dovetailed beautifully in running and support lines and made huge inroads every time they got their hands on the ball. In the backline Nash was making the proverbial hay while the sun shined and the Pigs were benefitting hugely. From a loose kick Morgan passed to Nash who scythed through the midfield. Quick ball to Partridge saw him score the Pigs fifth try. 
Bay Street was rampant. Ciaran O’kane ran the ball back from the kickoff and Jordan Moss took the ball to half way. Mixing it up Morgan kicked cross field for Blunt who caught it at full pace and rounded the statuesque defender to score under the posts. It was a beautiful crafted try. Belleville had their own mini-purple patch and scored two quick tries. With twenty minutes left they were not dead and buried yet. 
The front row of O’Neill, Moss and Reilly are reminiscent of a French front row of the 1980’s when France had a policy of picking three props and using them like a steamroller in the scrums. Belleville had a scrum inside Bay Street’s 22. The Pigs shunted and shoved them off their own ball. De Ree picked and made huge ground to the halfway. On their back foot the Belleville defence was scrambling to close down the space. Nash again made another break and released Partridge who put on the afterburners to score in the corner. 
The sixth try was almost a carbon copy. Again Belleville were walked off their own scrum ball, De Ree picked again and made big yardage and offloaded to Morgan. Without looking Morgan flicked the ball to his outside and found Flagler on his shoulder. Not feeling pity or remorse or fear Flagler did not stop until his 50 meter run saw him score under the posts. 
Another Bulldogs scrum saw the Pigs drive them off it again. This time it was de Lallo picking from the base and driving forward. Blunt came over from his wing and loopingPartridge beat the last flailing defender to score. 
There was room for one last hurrah. From the restart de Lallo took the ball inside his 22 and ran it back almost unopposed to Belleville’s 5 meter line. Tony Alblas who had got through trojan work in the second row was first up in support and touched down to score bay Street’s last try.
51-17 to Bay Street and on they march to a semi-final against the Vaughan Yeomen at Sunnybrook. Pragmatic or debonair? Bay Street may have to decide which route to take against their much vaunted opponents. The Pigs have the skill and personnel though to go either route. Being a Roundhead or Cavalier matters not a whit. On Saturday only the result matters. 
2nd XV celebrate a perfect season
2nd XV celebrate a perfect season

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