A full match report from the Alex Bennett fundraising game, the Bosh Legands v England Legends, in aid of The RPA Benevolent Fund, The RFU Injured Players’ Foundation and The Alex Bennett Fund for Spinal Injuries.
It was a glorious afternoon at Beechwood on Saturday when Nick Easter and Martin Corry led out their teams in front of an appreciative crowd of over 2,000 to jointly raise funds for such worthy causes. Martin Corry led out a team of England legends, including Jason Leonard, Jason Robinson, Kyran Bracken, Ben Kay and Danny Grewcock. Nick Easter, a playing colleague of Bosh at Orrell, captained Bosh’s s team, which included Lymm RFC legends such as Chris Kinsey, Pete Millachip and Adam Fletcher, alongside this season’s skipper Oli Higginson and forwards coach / hooker Pete Allen.
Danny Grewcock was the first player to force himself over the line, following early pressure from the England Legends. However, with 15 minutes to go to half-time it was Bosh’s team who lead, 5 – 26, showing they were more than a match for their more illustrious opponents by scoring four tries.
What a thrill it must have been for Oli Higginson (1 try) and Adam Fletcher (2 tries) to get their names on the score-sheet whilst playing in such exulted company. Jos Baxendell, the ex-Sale centre and skipper , scored an unconverted try for the England Legends before Jason Leonard, playing on the wing (!), scored the game’s most popular try to bring the half-time score to 17 – 26.
Two minutes into the second half, man-of-the-match, winger, Jimmy Naylor (Orrell, Newcastle Falcons and Leicester Tigers) scored in the corner, before setting up Leigh Hinton (Orrell, Bedford Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons and Leeds) for a length of the field sprint to the line and a try.
At 17 – 26 it looked as though the England Legends were facing defeat. If only Pete Millachip and Chris Kinsey could have finished off the moves that featured skilful inter-passing between Pete Allen and Oli Higginson, they might have been able to boast about inflicting defeat upon a team with hundreds of international caps between them. What a good reason, perhaps, to finally hang up those boots??!! Knowing Pete and Chris, this would be unlikely, but seeing Pete, Oli and a rejuvenated Adam Fletcher in full flow suggests that Lymm’s future in National 3 League North this coming season looks assured.
In the match programme Martin Corry said his team would be out to win. They didn’t quite manage this, but three tries in the last 20 minutes, including tries from Jason Robinson and Ben Kay revealed the competitive spirit that differentiates seasoned internationals from others, irrespective of age. What a fitting end to this match it was when referee, Trevor Fisher, blew for full-time, with the score 36 – 36 – a very honourable draw.
This event was Alex’s “thank you” to all those in the rugby community in Lymm and in the brotherhood that is Rugby Union, who have supported him and his family over the past few months. His wish was that everybody would have a brilliant day together and that the funds raised would allow others with spinal injuries to be given a second chance, like him, to fulfil their hopes and dreams. In February, one hope of Alex was that he would be able to walk his daughter down the aisle. Everyone on the pitch and on the touchline will take great comfort that this will now be possible, albeit the greatest credit should go to Alex and his wife, Antonia, for being the driving forces and motivation to enable this to happen.
Alex’s wish for others came true. It was a brilliant day. In some respects it would have been better if holding such an event had not been necessary, but given the circumstances the many willing volunteers who made it happen did Alex, his family and Lymm RFC proud. The obstacles that had to be overcome for it to be a success pale into insignificance compared to the obstacles Alex has had to overcome to date, but as the stars came out in Lymm (or went home) some glory shone all around.
Photography courtesy of Rob Cox Photography Ltd.