Twickenham run-out raises over £15,000 for rugby injured
A combined veterans team from Newcastle and newly promoted Trentham were pipped at the post by a Parliamentary rugby squad, organised by local MP Paul Farrelly, this week in a hard-fought encounter at Twickenham stadium.
But on the way they raised over £15,000 for English rugby’s Injured Players’ Foundation, which helps badly hurt amateur players to rebuild their lives.
Recent recipients include Sandbach stalwart David Twemlow, for whom the charity bought a specially adapted new family home after he suffered a severe neck injury five years ago.
At sunny Twickenham on Tuesday, the 28-19 final score flattered to deceive, with the Commons & Lords team just edging a bruising game by four tries to three, and a couple of conversions.
Captained by Trentham’s Mick Bezus and Newcastle’s Pete Skinner, the visitors started strongly, setting local rivalries aside to use their experience to take the opposition on fiercely up front. At 61, thrice retired Trentham prop Graham Atkin was the oldest on the Potteries side, six years ahead of Newcastle’s flanker Colin Hinds.
Ten minutes in, the pressure paid off, with Trentham’s Ashley Attwood going over in the corner the first time the pack let the backs sniff the ball. Scores were soon levelled, with former Loughborough MP Andy Reed touching down on the wing at the other end.
Camped in the Westminster half, further forward force saw diminutive Newcastle scrum half Dave Shields scurry under the posts for a 12-7 half time lead. After the break, though, it was the parliamentary pack - led by Chester MP Stephen Mosley - that finally found its legs.
A catch and drive from the lineout, after a penalty against the locals for holding on, saw the Commons & Lords edge 14-12 ahead - setting the couple of hundred supporters, who’d made the journey, up for a thrilling final quarter.
Now it was the Westminster backs who’d lasted stronger. Just after the hour, from a set piece centre field near his own 22, Farrelly at scrum half threw a long blind side pass to the inside centre, catching Newcastle and Trentham off guard. Slick interplay with Reed again on the wing saw the No. 11, Middlesex Rugby Development Officer Ty Sterry, cruise in for the try.
Minutes later, Newcastle chairman Richard Thomas at fly half – guesting for the Commons & Lords - started another smart backs move after a breakdown twenty metres out, which saw the Westminster club double its half time tally.
Down, but by no means out, five minutes from time Newcastle’s second scrum half Leighton Glover rampaged down the touchline, fending off Farrelly, for his team’s third. But for an earlier fumble within sight of the line, that might have seen the locals level – but, relieved at the final whistle, it was the green and reds of Westminster who just carried the day.
In a treat for the fans, England and British Lions legend Neil Back turned up to cheer Newcastle and Trentham on, and afterwards ex-Labour MP and England winger Derek Wyatt presented the man of the match award – to the first try scorer, Trentham’s Ashley Attwood.
Flanker Nick King, a special adviser at Culture, Media & Sport, was voted the Commons & Lords’ man of the match by the opposition.
Pictured above: Newcastle MP Paul Farrelly spins the ball out to parliamentary veteran Lord Addington as Newcastle’s Mark Mellor and Matt Bridgett close off the blind side.