It was one of those weekends, second in a row actually, when plunging temperatures caused rugby matches to be postponed all over the county. Given the conditions, my original intention had been to stay local and drive a mere five miles or so to see Old Grovians face Ripon. A mid-morning pitch inspection put an end to that idea so a longer journey became necessary. I'd had a number of invitations via Twitter the previous evening which included Doncaster Phoenix and a local derby at Wath-on-Dearne. Phoenix play on the same pitch as Doncaster Knights, a heated one, so it was most unlikely to be weather affected. The plan was to head off to Wath with Doncaster as back up if the former was postponed.
For about the fourth Saturday in a row the morning was bright with large patches of blue sky and sunny spells. Also for the fourth time, by kick-off at 2.15 the clouds had come rolling in and we were plunged into murk and gloom.
A mere 12 miles apart, Wath and visitors Barnsley play in division Yorkshire Two (same as the aforementioned Old Grovians and Ripon) and seem to have had a reasonable season so far according to the league table. Favourites on paper, Barnsley are third while their hosts are mid table, about ten points behind.
But this was a local derby and therefore previous form meant nothing. In fact it was Wath who went ahead first with a push over try. They certainly had the better of early skirmishes, moving further ahead midway through the half. By the end of the first forty, Barnsley had recovered somewhat, and I think the half-time score was 17-10.
In the second half Barnsley brought the score back to 17 all with a converted try and, as darkness descended and the final whistle loomed, they went ahead with what seemed to be a match winning score - 24 to 17! However, there was a sting in the game's tail and Wath were not finished. Several penalties on the five yards line culminated in a final desperate push for the line and they were over. Many of us couldn't actually see the score but arms went up in joy or despair, the referee a beacon in his clean blue shirt signalling that Wath had their try.
The draw was confirmed with the conversion, in this case a comparatively easy one. A notable feature of this game was the quality of the kicking in such difficult conditions. Most kicks, either conversions or penalties, from quite challenging distances and angles, were successful.
While not the most free flowing of games, this was a most exciting fixture played in great humour. Well done to both sides.
You must be getting fed up of me complaining about the light for so many weeks in a row. I'm actually growing to like the furry noise filled images I've captured in recent matches but some are really, really murky. Still, not long now til the shortest day so hopefully the brightness will return in the new year. You can see more pictures over on Flickr.