DUNDEE DRAGONS WHEELCHAIR RUGBY LEAGUE ROAD TRIP NUMBER 1
KEIGHLEY AND BRADFORD 13 & 14 APRIL 2018
Match Report by Kevin Rattray, DDWSC Vice-Chairman
It seemed strange that we were on the road, Basketball season hasn’t quite finished and rugby hasn’t been a huge feature on training days but here we were and heading for two venues we knew well, just didn’t know how to get there, but more of that later.
Jay and Kirsteen set off early, they were also heading off to Basketball Women’s League in Nottingham after the two rugby matches, now that’s real dedication.
Mairi, Stewart, Ronny, David and I met at Gardyne campus to load up Mairi’s van with chairs, balls, tags and everything else we needed for the weekend, Michael and family were setting off from Cardenden a bit later in the day.
It would be great to report that the journey was smooth and uneventful, but sometimes good things come out of adversity.
Traffic ground to a halt at Broxden, yes not even past Perth and we were parked up, but it was ok as Stewart and Mairi resolved most of the issues with the Scottish education system, then moved onto international affairs as I munched greedily on the jelly babies provided by Mairi, I’m nothing if not a classy guy.
Suddenly we were moving again, waving to Ferris as we passed Findo Gask, then parked up again at Dunblane and the Castle Cary Arches, this was going to be a long day.
First comfort break came at “What’s it Called…Cumbernauld”, then we were off again next stop, where else but Tebay services, got to keep the tradition going, but we seemed to have lost David and Ronny.
Tebay arrived with Ronny and David catching up and it was now obvious why they were held up, David’s bumper and back door showed the damage that a little, badly driven, Clio could do.
Phone call to the insurance company followed as the players munched on the food of champions, fish and chips, maybe it’s the food of bowls or darts champions but was very welcome.
The next stretch of the journey was now more straightforward apart from the damp and dark A65 into Bradford, a misbehaving Google maps, an unchargeable Iphone and an elderly driver who can get lost in a car park!
Travelodge was ok, although I’m sure I heard someone telling Roxanne to put on the red light, apologies for the Arctic Monkeys reference, I’ll maybe start hiding these musical references in my match reports.
The area was not the best and I’m not sure we’ll be back!
Marks and Spencer or MacDonalds for breakfast then we were off to University Academy Keighley, which we found really easily, this was not the norm.
Slight delay to the start of the match, double booking with kids playing football, just gave us a bit longer to get moving and prepare for action.
Now we were ready and started with the 3 players from the match day 7 who were celebrating being announced in the Scotland squad for the Celtic Cup, Michael Mellon, David Birtles and Jay Anderson, they were ably supported by Ronny Robb and Stewart Squire, with Mairi Simms and yours truly on the bench, and of course Ryan Mellon, broken thumb and all, collecting and distributing tags in a blur of activity.
As well as Kirsteen Burns the queen of all things medical and tape, patching up and holding us all together
The match kicked with Dragons receiving and starting very quickly, although it was clear this was a different Keighley team from the one we had played previously as they covered the court well and shut down some of our attacking moves.
The score board started to tick with Ronny and Michael taking centre stage, and Michael converting from a variety of locations on the court.
The pressure from Cougars was telling though as attempts at intricate movements were closed down and pressure was exerted resulting in a few spilled passes.
As the half went on Dragons started to simplify their play and were now well on top and score followed score up to half time with the half ending
Keighley Cougars 0 30 Dundee Dragons
The second half saw changes being made with Mairi now coming into the action and the former coach rolling onto court to fill a gap.
This was now a very different game, one quick score came from Michael, but in spite of a variety of attempts from the Dragons, Cougars were holding firm and came close to getting on the score sheet as a deft kick was chased down but drifted long.
Defences were completely on top and Dragons swapped player after player to find a way through the stubborn defence but it wasn’t to be and the match finished
Keighley Cougars 0 36 Dundee Dragons
Great respect was shown from team to team as handshakes and hugs were exchanged, pictures were taken and we headed into the coffee shop for food generously supplied by the Cougars.
But hold on we had another match to play, thanks for the reminder Jay, memory issues? me?
Back outside to load cars and van and we were off to Bradford with Stewart on Google maps.
I’m not going to dwell on how we got horribly lost but when we came to a junction and Stewart said turn left and Mairi, now on sat nav, said turn right this elderly gentleman, who was now in desperate need of a comfort break, could have broken down and cried.
Of course we got there, and of course there was no time for a full warm up, but Michael gathered everyone around and we were off.
Dragons began with the same five who started against Keighley and stormed into a 12 point lead, through Ronny and Michael, and were looking very strong in defence and attack, could this be the start of a comfortable victory?
I can tell you now that no one thought that as this Bradford team started to open up our previously water tight defence, with some excellent passing, movement and pace.
Bulls pushed forward at every opportunity and started to build an impressive score and Dragons were having difficulty making any inroads or adding to the scoring.
The first half came to a bit of an abrupt end for the Dragons and we were now down
Bradford Bulls 22 16 Dragons (I think, but never checked with the ref)
Michael pulled the team together, we were not playing badly, but were making some errors in defence and attack, it was time to get back to basics, play out the sets and work attacking positions by moving the defence about as much as possible.
That’s what the second half brought with us staying in touch, sometimes only just, as Bulls built an impressive 14 point lead midway through the half.
It was make or break time for the Dragons, 2 matches in 1 day was that too much for them, would tiredness kick in.
Not a chance, this team found inner strength that I haven’t witnessed very often, they hauled themselves back into the match and registered score after score to bring within four points with a 5 minutes left to play.
Michael Ronny and Jay were all on the scoresheet and a moment of magic from David with a kick to the corner touched down by Michael.
Three minutes to play and Dragons are still behind, but there was time for one more bit of brilliance, Ronny score to the side of the posts conversion by Michael we were now two points ahead with 3 minutes to play.
All we had to do was gather the kick off, play out the set and push them back down field.
Kick off gathered, ball played to the left, we’ve carried it out of play and Bulls have a chance from 6 metres out with a set of six to play.
They crash in we crash them back, they try again and again and go for it on the final tackle, but no way through, ball is handed to Ronny who smiles, you’ve seen that smile, and only 60 seconds to play.
Tackle 1 to tackle 5 and we barely move up the court, tackle 6 and the ball is passed to Ronny, yeah he smiles again, kicks the ball long and the match is over.
Bradford Bulls 46 48 Dundee Dragons
The tension on the touchline was palpable, I think Deborah may have a video of the final minute, not sure I want to relive it though.
Final kudos to Mairi she never played in the Bulls match, but here is what she said to me during the second half:
I’m not going on, you can’t take any of these guys off, they are playing great and it’s too close to make any changes.
Great hospitality followed with lots of rugby chat, no I don’t remember much about it or the uneventful journey home apart from trying to get out of Bradford, man do they have a lot of roundabouts and speed bumps.
Lessons to be learned.
Keep it simple and believe in ourselves.
Work hard and trust the team
Don’t let Stewart Squire anywhere near Google Maps!
Next match will be the Semi-Final of the Plate Competition, draw will be made week commencing 23 April, fingers crossed for a home draw where we can get a big Dragons support on the touch line.