COLNE emerged victorious in their tour to the Adriatic Coast in Italy.
The tour was going to involve two games one against Pescara first team on Saturday and another against Sulmona vets on Sunday with a little bit of drinking in between!
The tour party consisted of 33 players from all ages, the youngest being 17 to the oldest being a spritely 50 years young.
After checking into their luxury beachfront hotel The Regent, several of the squad ventured into Pescara, finding a row of streets known as the old town, which was the only part of Pescara not destroyed in the Second World War.
The morning after, Colne’s players awoke for breakfast with fantastic weather ahead of a light team run through on the beach.
Colne players and supporters were then picked up by members from Pescara Rugby Club and driven to their ground, and with the midday heat now reaching 90 degrees and the pitch being a 4G artificial surface, Colne were going to have to adapt to the new conditions pretty sharply.
The match was started by Pescara’s number 10 Mirko Ridolfi, and after a good catch and drive by Mark Britcliffe, the Pescara forwards knew that Colne were not here to be pushed around.
After a frenetic first 10 minutes, with both teams making some good piercing runs and some big tackles, none more so than 17-year-old Lewis Heskith’s massive hit on their man mountain number eight, it was Colne who were awarded the first penalty against Claudio Froda for handling in the ruck, Adam Wagstaff dully converting.
In searing heat, the Colne water boys did an excellent job of keeping the team hydrated, and the next few passages of play saw Pescara’s players kick the ball high into the sun hoping for a mistake from one of Colne’s back three, but Max Pratt, Nathan Grant and the ever dependable Matty Tindall were not making any errors.
Colne forwards were holding their own against Pescara’s bigger pack and this enabled Howard Wick to find space in the centre for a surging run into the opposition half.
Quick ball would have meant Colne could have used their overlap, but this was denied by an over eager Tapro Monticelli at back row in an off-side position - the resulting penalty converted by Wagstaff.
A spell of hard running from Marco Pizzola and Andrea Di Giandomenico in the forwards and excellent ball handling from Luca Ridolfi and Cristiano Costanzo in the backs saw them move within 10 metres of Colne’s try line, but a mistake by them allowed Jordan Sunderland to kick the ball clear.
The resulting line out deep in Pescara’s half was stolen by Adam Davis and Colne started to pour on the pressure.
Colne failed to capitalise on this as Pescara soaked up the pressure and counter attacked.
A great kick through by Pescara’s centre Valerio Sabatelli saw them within scoring distance and after some good ball retention, Pescara’s number eight Oscar Manchini powered over for the first try.
The conversion was missed, making the score 6-5.
Colne kept up the pressure from the resulting restart and a great chase from Luke Edwards forced the opposition player to spill the ball, which was pounced upon by Harry Whitaker, who drove the ball on, and good support from Adam Padget forced Pescara into conceding another penalty, which was converted by Wagstaff.
Once again nother superb catch and drive from the restart, followed by some good interplay between backs and forwards, saw Colne earn themselves another penalty, with the kick from Wagstaff sailing over.
For the remaining five minutes Colne battered away at Pescara’s line but some resolute defending byMarco Passeri, Enrique Vigo and Christian Palombizio kept Colne from scoring.
The second half saw the heat start to take effect, but within minutes of the kick off Colne had worked their way up into Pescara’s half and were awarded a penalty, although the metronomic boot of Wagstaff was also beginning to wilt as he missed his kick.
This seemed to give Pescara a boost and they started to get the edge on Colne.
Colne’s front five had performed brilliantly, but the pressure from the heaver pack was starting to wear them down.
Pescara were now attacking at every opportunity and their pick and drive game was moving them slowly up the pitch, but Heskith and Callum Tadman were not giving in without a fight and continued to put tackle after tackle in.
As play went from end to end, both teams were now looking to end the game with a try and Colne’s backs went on the attack once again, but there was no way past Pescara’s well-organised defence.
With only ten minutes of the game remaining, the Colne players were out on their feet and were now just playing on instinct.
Pescara were now camped on Colne’s try line and their prop Gaetano Semeraro crashed over for a try.
There was still a conversion to come and fortunately it was missed, leaving the score 12-10 to Colne.
A big thank goes to the Pescara players and staff for their hospitality, and to Stew Wilkin, Steve Edwards and helpers for arranging the tour.
FINAL SCORE: Pescara 10, Colne and Nelson 12