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Matchreport Mainz

Darmstadt 25-26 Mainz

On Saturday 21st October, the reigning champions of the Hessen League, Mainz, travelled to take on last years runners up, Darmstadt in a match that will go down as the second best game of rugby played on that day. Those who watched the England vs South Africa game later that evening could be forgiven for thinking the RWC semi final was, in fact, just a re-run of this great regional German rugby match. Anyway, here‘s how it went down.

Felix, who once again received a last minute referee call up, got the game started. Rupert kicked short to the left and Darmstadt put on some early phase-play pressure to test out the Mainz defence. After an early penalty 3 minutes in, Henry lined up an shot at the sticks from about 40m out. Unfortunately, despite sharing Owen Farrell’s country of birth, he does not share his kicking ability, as the shot went just wide of the upright. From Mainz‘s 22 drop-out Darmstadt went back into attack with some good runs from PvH, Shane and Tommaso. About 5 minutes in, 45yr old second-row Xaver decided he‘d had enough of playing and went off with a calf injury. Mainz and Darmstadt took turns to trade blows in attack, with possession changing hands in both halves. Eventually, after Mauro strung some nice forward phases together, Lorenzo drew in the defence beautifully to put Rupert through to score in the corner. Henry added the conversion from the side-line to make it 7-0. Unfortunately, in his haste to get to the ruck before the try, Mauro accidentally kicked Gerrit who went off injured and was replaced by Angelo, who had turned up half-an-hour before KO as a spectator. With forced changes in the forwards, a couple of lineouts went astray. Henry opted to kick another penalty to stretch the lead to 10. As the end of the half approached, Mainz got close to scoring but were pinged for double movement on the line. The other 45yr second-row, Lars, made a fantastic 40m run breaking through numerous tackles before eventually being stopped. This effort proved his last as he also then went off injured. Henry added another penalty, ending the half 13-0 with Darmstadt having almost emptied the bench already.

The second half got off to a fast start. After running a great short line, Angelo crashed through the Mainz defence just over half way, fending off defenders and finally stepping the full-back to score a great solo try. The Afters were added to make it 20-0. Mainz responded immediately however, with some strong forwards play to score under our posts. Darmstadt then returned back to the Steve Borthwick gameplan that had worked so well in the first half. Henry tried a couple of long-range penalties from beyond halfway, which, despite flying just wide of the target, resulted in a 5m scrum after a Mainz drop (which Darmstadt gave away a scrum penalty on) and a much easier penalty half the distance out (which Henry then missed). Darmstadt then got a lucky break after good defensive pressure from Shane forced a loose ball from the Mainz backline which was shipped on to Ernesto to score. 25-12. At this point in the game, Darmstadt really started to feel the effects of the early forced subs. Despite some heroic defending from Rupert down the wing and Simon to hold Mainz up over our tryline, they were eventually able to break through with two quick tries in succession. With 15 minutes to go Mainz were a converted try behind at 25-19. What Darmstadt really needed now were some fresh legs. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the players on the pitch, Coach Martin had decided to catch an early lift home from the game leaving no one to make the final subs. And so with 77 minutes on the clock, a fresh Mainz forward pack had the put in at the scrum. The number 8 picked and scored down the blindside. Up stepped the kicker… and the conversion sailed through the posts. Final score, 25-26 to Mainz. A last minute kick sealed defeat by a single point – a devastating result that the English author of said match report would go on to repeat hours later that day…

Although not the result we wanted, it was an immense shift from the boys who can be thoroughly proud of the way they played. Credit to Mainz who had a strong second half and gave us another classic game. Thanks to Felix for a solid refereeing performance in what was a difficult match to officiate. And thank you again to all the supporters who came down to watch!

MoM – a difficult call as there were many great performances, especially from Simon and Tommaso. However, after arriving half an hour before kick off not expecting to play and going on to score one of the tries of the season, Angelo Tongue is Man of the Match!
DoD – Martin Roberts for the substitution confusion in the second half