Firstly, apologies for the delay in this blog, I felt like I’d been beaten around the head yesterday morning so spent most of the day in bed watching NFL, football and, of course, rugby re-runs!
We headed out of our hotel fairly early to try and avoid the Springbok rush and waited patiently for our train to the next destination – Leeds. We were due to meet other people up there but the trains from London were delayed. It almost made me glad I’d been in Birmingham!On arrival at Leeds we dropped our bags and circled the station area looking for a decent pub to have lunch. We eventually found an open table and sat chatting with a local (ex-serviceman, now works the doors in the city) and it was interesting hearing his views on rugby vs. football and the atmosphere in the city over the last few days (as well as his views on life itself!). He’d said Leeds United were away today and their fans were rowdy as they got on earlier trains. He also told us to expect a big police presence later as their trains from Middlesbrough would be getting back to Leeds as most rugby fans were leaving!
There were plenty of men in skirts around and it was a very fun atmosphere.
One of the things with the Tier1 v Tier2 matches is there is little expectation about the final result (generally), so most people can go along and enjoy the game. Even when two Tier1 nations face off, they might be friendly, but it’s never nice to watch the game!
We caught the shuttle bus to the stadium. Even though we were early, this was well organised and it helped we had the northern version of Lewis Hamilton to cut in and out of the traffic to get us there fast!
Elland Road is another old football stadium and we had a stroll around. Our tickets were Category A for this one (a treat for the wife!) but we found ourselves at the entrance to what is appeared to be the away end at Leeds.
Any football fan will know 2 things:
- The away ends generally don’t have the best views; and
- The facilities for away fans are crap.
On this occasion, however, this can’t have been the away end – although we were towards the corner, we were right by the tunnel. RIGHT by the tunnel. However, I was right about the facilities! Thankfully, I wasn’t drinking today!
It was pretty chilly at times in Leeds but it soon warmed up when the kilted army turned up.
The game ended pretty one-sided on the scoreboard, but the Americans fought hard and gave the Scots a scare, leading at half-time. In fairness, the lead could’ve been greater but the misfiring lineout from the Samoa match, continued in the same way. I think USA lost 4 lineouts on their own throw in the first half alone: 2 for not straight (to add to the 3 or 4 from the previous match), 1 over-thrown and 1 genuinely stolen! Without a solid set-piece base, the USA are always going to struggle. With ball in hand though, they recycled the ball well and pushed the Scots back and back.
The second half started with a bang – a Tartan one, as Scotland scored 3 tries in 12 minutes to turn the scoreboard around and get a lead that was too much for the Americans. From being 7 points down, the Scots were in reach of the bonus point and it soon came.
The US didn’t give up though and came close at the end to adding a further try but a bit of indecision, some sloppiness and tiredness and it wasn’t to be. The Scots had their second bonus point win.
If Samoa beat Japan and SA beat Scotland, the match between Samoa and Scotland is every bit as big as I predicted.
The “scrum” after the game for the shuttle buses was a bit of a mess and it would’ve been quicker to walk. I was just glad to get to the station, on a train and home.
But hey, same again next week! Actually, more next week!