East To Hull Ionians

Saturday brought the arrival of Storm Brian - strong winds and heavy rain for Ireland and the western side of the UK. A quick look at the BBC weather forecast revealed that the further east one drove, the less likely one was to encounter Brian until evening. I'd been wanting to photograph Hull Ionians for months - at least two seasons - and now seemed the perfect opportunity.

 Second half drama as Fylde attempt to clear the ball

Second half drama as Fylde attempt to clear the ball

Although Ionians had not begun the season well and were currently languishing a couple of places from the bottom of National League One (the third tier of English Rugby Union's league system), opponents Fylde were right at the bottom, suggesting a competitive encounter.

Fylde Clearance Attempted Charge Down

And so it proved to be. For much of the first forty the home side kept themselves six points ahead with two penalties before finally breaking through twice in the last eight minutes of the half. The image below shows Ionians' Sam Rees during his run in on the left to score, riding several tackles on the way. As I've written before, I usually move from the end of the field to the 22 metre line at this stage of a game and this time it really paid off - several shots of the run with other players in frame. Yes, it would have been a reasonable view from beyond the try line of the try itself but I think there was higher drama in the run.

First Half Score For Sam Rees

Fylde managed a converted try of their own making the score 18-7 at the break. The visitors were equally determined in the opening minutes of the second half and set home hearts racing with a second converted try: 18-14. With ten minutes to go the score had moved on to 23-19 as the sides exchanged scores. The deadlock was finally broken with a further Ionians score (28-19) and a yellow card for Fylde. The try below was virtually the last action of the game; a determined run by man-of-the-match Joe Allott. Tacklers had him twisting like a contortionist before finally forcing the ball to ground. The final score was 34-19.

Joe Allott Scores - not grounded in the top image but the referee sees it is in the second

The forecast had been correct in that the rain held off until after the final whistle although it was quite blustery throughout. Most disappointing, however, was the disappearance of any brightness with the oncoming heavy cloud, causing ISO levels to rise and very 'noisy' images. These can often look better and more atmospheric when converted to black and white.

Of the Ionians squad it was good to catch up with former Huddersfield and Yorkshire U20 fly half Chris Bell. Recruited over the summer, he told me he'd recently picked up an injury against Blackheath and was therefore substitute. He managed to get on in that all important phase of the second half.

Chris Bell: Significant Second Half Contribution

Most enjoyable photographing despite the gloom. As always you can see more pictures of the game over on Flickr.