AFTER the first team’s fantastic victory against Pescara, the Colne veterans made it a tour double against Sulmona.
Sulmona is in the Abruzzi region of Italy - famous for its sugar coated almonds known as confetti, and the birth place of Ovidio, who was Caesar’s poet.
When Colne arrived, the players had a look at the pitch and felt it would be safer to play on the car park!
Colne were expecting the pitch to be hard, but to at least have some grass on, but the grass could not grow because of all the stones on the pitch.
This was a matter of concern for the veterans, but they decided they would give it a go.
The match got under way with Sulmona kicking-off.
Straight from the first catch by Gareth Boothman, Colne knew the type of game they were going to play as the ball was passed from player to player, as nobody wanted to get tackled on the rocky terrain!
This tactic was actually working for Colne as the space was being created on the wings.
With only 10 minutes played, Nick Elsey made a break on his wing, and when he was halted, the ball was moved quickly back the other way and centre pairing of Stu Wilkins and evergreen Chris Buck created space for Phil Holden to score in the corner.
This score gave the opposition a kick start and they started to get their mauling game going, which they were well trained at, as nobody would train at rucking on such a pitch! When Sulmona’s stand off placed a high ball up, Colne’s new full back Howard Wick seemed to have it covered, but he knocked it on and Sulmona’s flying winger was on hand to kick the ball on, regather and score what seemed to be a perfectly good try.
But you are not allowed to kick the ball outside of your 22 metre line, so the try was disallowed.
Colne tried to keep the ball alive at every opportunity, as they didn’t have the fitness to get caught up in maul after maul.
With another flowing move, Colne had moved the ball into Sulmona’s half with an overlap out wide. The ball was on its way there, only for Chris Buck to lose his footing and come crashing down in a pile of dust and stones. When he eventually got up, he had to leave the field with bad grazes.
Sulmona were the next on the score sheet when their man of the match stand off slipped through a gap to score, bringing the score level at five all.
Colne had a few new faces to use in the second half as six players from Pescara veterans had turned up for a run about.
This helped Colne out as some of the older players were starting to wilt, but it also helped out the opposition, as Colne struggled with the language barrier.
Sulmona had the edge now, and with a succession of mauls their second row crashed over for a try to put them 10-5 in front.
Colne were now hanging on, but some brave defense by Martin Towers and Aaron Denton kept the scores as they were.
Then out of nowhere Steve McKane ripped the ball out of a maul and set running down the wing, and with only the fullback to beat, he ran over him and touched down to level.
This score gave Colne a second wind, and some excellent support play from Graham Davy and John Hargreaves saw Colne move up the pitch.
With only five minutes left, bodies were tired and a Pescara veteran came up with some sheer brilliance as he side stepped two or three players and raced away to score.
This put Colne 15-10 up, and that was how it finished.
Special thanks went to the referee Adam Wagstaff, the Colne player, who stepped up when the real referee failed to show.
The after match hospitality from the people of Sulmona was fantastic with a huge roast pig and home brewed organic red wine.
It was a fantastically well organised tour by everyone involved and Colne hope to do the same if Sulmona and Pescara decide to come over to Pendle!. The club again thank Stuart Wilkin for organising a tremendous weekend.
• COLNE and Nelson have organised a summer touch rugby league at Holt House on Mondays, June 11th, 18th, 25th and July 2nd.
The game is open to over 16s, men and women, and non-contact.
For more information, call Ian on 07590818341 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org