Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Sunday's Coming - South Wales Scorpions

Cast your mind back to 1982. Cardiff Blue Dragons came to the Athletic Grounds and in their ranks was Paul Ringer - former rugby *nion hard-man, with a fearsome reputation. That day Hornets fielded a young prop called Dave Lockwood and Ringer singled him out for his first drive of the ball. Locky stood his ground and hit him what these days gets called a 'big shot' sending Ringer and his reputation reeling. The tackle raised a cheer as big as any try and as Locky punched the air in celebration, Ringer's welcome to Rochdale heralded the waning of a national hero.

Fast Forward to December 1994…

Hornets v Wigan at Central Park in the Regal Trophy. Never really expected to give Wigan much of a game, Hornets were seen as ideal 'soft' fodder against which to give former Welsh *nion superstar Scott Quinnell his debut. After 20 minutes Quinell was introduced to the game to an uproarious welcome from the Central Park faithful. On 21 minutes Quinell was on his way back to the bench with his nose all over his face courtesy of Hornets Aussie prop Brian McCarthy. The apocryphal tale is that, as he clutched an ice pack to his face, he said to the physio: "F*ckin 'ell, I wasn't expecting that."

Indeed, it's not every week you get the opportunity to put one of kick-and-clap's most revered icons on his arse, and when these occasions come around you have to relish them.  
Ringer, Quinnell, Powell - Deja vu, Welsh-style

Fast forward to Sunday...

Other than the small matter of getting beaten at home by Gateshead, the only story at South Wales Scorpions is the arrival of former Welsh rugby *nion lump Andy Powell.

As part of Wigan's attempt to turn him into a proper rugby player, Powell finds himself farmed-out to the Scorpions to knock off his *nion edges, give him some much-needed experience and have him annealed ready for his Super League bow.

Capped 23 times for Wales, Powell is probably most renowned outside of the principality for for stealing a golf buggy after Wales' last-ditch win over Scotland in the 2010 Six Nations.  He was found - and arrested - driving said buggy at Junction 33 on the M4 at 6am. The following day he was booted out of the Welsh squad for 'behaviour contrary to the squad's code of conduct'. He was later given a 15 month driving ban and fined after admitting the offence at Cardiff Magistrates court.

He ended his *nion career at the City of Salford Stadium, walking to the breakdown for Sale Sharks.

Needless to say, his return to South Wales has caught people's attention. In what might well be the League Express' most interesting typing error, Scorpions coach Dave Clark said: " He's a cult figure in Wales". Quite.

Clark went on: "We've had a lot of interest over the last few weeks about the prospect of him playing with us and we're hoping that some rugby *nion supporters will come and watch him take on the challenge of Rugby League."

That most partisan of Rugby League writers Ian Golden captured Powell's 'homecoming' in glowing prose: "Former Wales rugby *nion international Andy Powell made his South Wales Scorpions debut and made a nuisance of himself in the 40 minutes that he played, but was heavily marked throughout." One for the scrapbook there, Andy.

After the 36-30 defeat, Dave Clark was, needless to say, ever so slightly miffed and his post match analysis was brutally honest. From a veritable cornucopia of criticisms, we've selected our favourites. So, here's our…

Dave Clark Five!

1. "To give away 36 points in the game, you don't deserve to be anywhere near them."
2. We made ten mistakes in the first half. They had 17 sets in that period and we gave them ten of them. How can you compete like that? You can't and we got what we deserved."
3. "We have to change something."
4. "We don't deserve to be in the playoffs - simple as that."
5. "… at the moment, we are not good enough."

And Clark's last word on Powell? "The challenge for me is to give him plenty of field time, he has all the attributes and it's just a case of getting him to play the Rugby League way."

We can't wait for Sunday. We love a circus.

RFL match Preview

Chris Tyrer (groin) is Rochdale’s only absentee as the Hornets prepare to host South Wales Scorpions in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship One fixture.

Hornets coach Ian Talbot said: “Other than Chris, we should be a pretty similar 17 to last week.

“You’d imagine South Wales will be wanting to right a few wrongs, but we’ve changed the focus this year on to what we’re doing, rather than worrying too much about the opposition.

“We just need to keep improving week on week. If we keep doing that, we’ll end up where we deserve to be.”

Connor Farrer and Andy Powell could both feature for South Wales, but David James (back) is unavailable for selection.

South Wales coach Dave Clark said: “The players know what they need to do.

“We had a disappointing July and we know that we should be higher in the table. We have the quality of players in the side.

“We made too many mistakes against Gateshead last week. If we can put that right against Rochdale then we’ll be in with a chance of taking all three points.”