Easter weekend, hope it was a good one for all of you. For ickledot it was a trip to South Yorkshire to stay with chums. It also included seeing and photographing two epic rugby matches, both in the National Championship, just one rung below the nation's top league, the Premiership.
Regular readers will know that ickledot's had the pleasure of photographing Doncaster Knights several times this season so Sunday's encounter with league leaders, Bristol, had been arranged for some time.
However, the opportunity to see Rotherham Titans was a surprise and bonus. It all began when ickledot discovered on Friday that there were only a few matches to see the following day due to some leagues taking a holiday break. On such occasions it's worked to seek help and advice from Twitter so after putting out an appeal for fixtures in South Yorkshire, replies suggested either Sheffield Tigers or the Titans. Looking at the map, ickledot realised it was quite a distance from where Sheffield Tigers play to my weekend residence. So, I plucked up courage, using the principle that there's no harm in asking, and sent a tweet to the Titans themselves. As it happened, the holiday break had also brought a shortage of regular photographers for the club so I was given the thumbs up as long as I didn't mind sharing a few shots with them.
Both matches were excellent, reflecting the high standards of the country's second tier. As the video says, Rotherham were able to seize the lead and relative control of the game midway through the second half with a try from Will Owen. ickledot was fortunate to be right on the spot, bagging a string of pleasing shots, the final two showing the dive for the line. In retrospect I perhaps should have tried to get lower for these but everything happens so fast on these occasions; one's so keen to keep everything in frame, in focus - there's a tendency to adopt a solid position and stick to it. This try, conversion and further penalty gave a final score of 22 to 12. Pleasing that the club used one of these pictures on their home page in reporting the win. You can read their comprehensive match report here. More of ickledot's pictures from the game can be seen here.
Doncaster's match with Bristol just as exciting, if not more so. This was a real top of the table clash; Bristol leading the league and Doncaster being second. Knights' winger, Tyson Kidd (above and on the way to scoring in top picture), was playing his hundredth game for the club and marked the occasion by scoring two first half tries. ickledot was not quite as close for these but was still able to record the run in for both, the crowd's ecstatic reaction a backdrop giving added excitement. Tragically the Knights lost their slender lead with the final play of the game, the closing score being 31-29 in favour of Bristol. This was obviously a huge disappointment but at least it showed the Knights can compete with the best and fully deserve their high league position. Who knows, this could end up being an added incentive come the play-offs. You can read a report of this 'gut-wrenching' game from the Doncaster Free Press and see more of ickledot's pictures here. There's also a little YouTube video direct from the two grounds.
Hope you all have a great week. For ickledot the clock changes will enable the first non-floodlit rugby of the season, and the first women's rugby of 2016! More of that soon.