Biggleswade 1st XV 17 - 24 Birstall
Jimmy Caulfield led the Biggleswade first XV out on a rainy Saturday afternoon to face the current top of the league team, Birstall.
The Biggy squad had been working hard all week in training with record numbers attending as they built up for the game.
Driving rain made playing conditions difficult, resulting in handling errors by the Biggy boys. Birstall were on the front foot and pinned Biggleswade down in their own 22 for the first few minutes, forcing them to stay stong in defence and hold back wave after wave of attack from the tough Birstall pack.
After a Biggy clearance, Birstall took a quick line out which led to them putting the first points on the board and then converting the try.
A long restart kick from Elliot Tunstall and the follow-up from the Biggleswade back line put Birstall straight under pressure in their 22. A knock-on from Biggy allowed the Birstall fly half to clear after a strong scrum.
Some good simple handling from the Birstall back line saw them move quickly up the field putting the Biggy boys back under pressure. Some quick-off-the-mark defending from Ross Taylor and Ethan Sinclair couldn’t stop the Birstall back line from running in another try in the far corner.
Jack Diemer at the front of the line out jumped to cause real disruption and won the ball against the head. The Biggy forwards fought hard but the Birstall team were quicker to the breakdown and got their platform well set, or so they thought until Andy Burke burst through the middle of the ruck to hold in the final Birstall player, winning a turnover over for Biggleswade. The pick and go from No 8 Kyle Loan allowed Biggy to try and gain ground through the kick for touch. Sadly the kick went straight out bringing the lineout back to the Biggy 22.
As the Birstall line out tried to throw over the towering Jack Diemer, the ball went over the whole pack and landed in the arms of Burke who crashed towards the waiting Birstall back line. It took three men to bring the powerful forward down and the ground he had made put the Biggy boys well over the gain line. The Birstall forwards ended up coming in at the side, penalty to Biggleswade who opt to kick for the posts. Tunstall kicked from distance to get Biggleswade on the scoreboard.
Birstall managed to run in one more try just before half time bringing the score to 3 - 17.
Half time allowed Biggleswade to regroup and re focus. Both teams came back out determined to make their mark. Some immense tackling from both sides meant the ball spent most of the first 10 minutes in the middle of the pitch.
As Birstall kicked to make ground the Biggleswade back line caught the ball. But after a questionable tackle the ball was spilled forward. Chasing Birstall players pounced on it and ran in under the posts for an easily converted try, taking the score to 3 - 24.
After the restart, desperate to stop the Biggleswade attack, the Birstall full back tackled too high, earning him a yellow card.
A Biggleswade lineout catch and drive pushed the Birstall forwards back towards their line, with Jake Devereux finally crashing over to score for the home team.
Biggy were starting to find their groove and they capitalised on their additional man, creating a strong platform for scrum half Luke Gadsby to put in a lovely box kick over the Birstall defensive line. The fresh legs of Dan Rodgers sprinting after the ball causing the defending team to spill the ball forward, giving Biggy the put-in at the scrum.
Another pick and go from Loan put the Biggy boys on the attack and the pack built up phase after phase of arrack through structured pod work, eventually allowing Devereux to crash over for his second try of the half, converted by Tunstall.
The Biggy boys had left it just too late to be able to pull the score line back in their favour as the whistle went and the final score 17-24 to the visitors.
Man of the Match was awarded to Ross Taylor for his superb defensive work rate.
PHOTOS: DAVID KAY