To all our beloved sponsors, parents, friends, supporters, doctors, sports physiotherapists, team psychologists, coaches, Max from the Light Brigade, and the cashed-up bloke that kept our Two-Up tournament ticking over… we’re BACK for the 3rd edition of the 2022 Circular.
Just like slipping your feet into your favourite pair of ugg boots for the first time in Autumn, a return to the Reef sure feels like home. It was Saturday the 23rd of April, and the Oysters were blessed to be back on familiar turf. After weeks of rain plagued our Canturbury counterpart’s home ground, the Oysters were asked to host the first official game of the season at our spiritual, ecological and geographical home, Lyne Park.
For those who are new to our legacy, here are a few fun facts about our home ground. Nestled on the shores of Rose Bay, a literal stone’s throw from the waters of Sydney Harbour, Lyne Park is the patch of grass where we play our best rugby. The grounds are much like the delicious contents of a Lobster tail roll, sandwiched in between two local establishments, Jezve Coffee and the famous Catalina restaurant. During the off-season, the Oysters borrowed a trundle wheel to measure the distance from our northern try line to the steps of the luxury restaurant once frequented by Mick Jagger and Elton John. After such an experiment, we can confirm our goalposts are less than 20 metres from the front door of one of Sydney’s most awarded restaurants. In fact, we may hold the keys to the only rugby park in the world where it’s possible to storm over the try line, continue with forward momentum and slide onto a white linen table to polish off a dozen of Sydney’s finest oysters and return in time for the return kick-off. Such is the brand of rugby we play, all champagne and glitter baby!
Exhibit A: Catalina Restaurant. Date an Oyster and he’s sure to take you to this fine establishment for lunch
Rumours of our fast, fun and family-friendly brand of footy is clearly beginning to make its way into gossip circles around the Eastern suburbs, as our return to the Reef was witnessed by a number of spectators enjoying a picnic, entertained by the blue and pink skills on display. With sidelines packed with friends, family and a few new fans of the Oysters, it could be said some players appear a little too keen to show off their silky skills when blessed with a crowd. So a word of warning, steady up boys and put your eyes on the game, the socialising can come afterwards…
Well we’re back and Lyne Park was looking an absolute picture perfect scene for the first match for competition points in 2022. The boys had a classy warm up and were fired up with a few key points from our illustrious skipper Gus. Gus returned to his natural habitat in the two row, and was brimming with confidence, even choosing to really take it to the Canterbury side by giving them the ball first. Once play got under way it was very evident that it was going to be a tough, tight and slow game which really suited our opponents. The Oysters defended with starch and with the first opportunity with the ball our eventual player’s player for the game Roy Harrison put a neat little kick through for “Mr Saturday Night Fever” Dan Bottrell for the first try. We continued to defend stoutly and held the Canterbury forwards off our goal line for a sustained period, the defensive efforts by Will Evans and Sam Brennan in particular were outstanding with some great work close to the line. However with sustained pressure from the forward pack and a condensed Oysters defensive line, Canterbury were able to successfully suck us in and then pass it out wide for their first try. As the tussle intensified it was evident that the oysties pack were scrummaging against the Pasha Bulka and really needed to focus on playing fast, expansive rugby. We eventually managed to strike back through Lachy Argiris, who whilst scoring referred to himself as Tom Brady (due to not pumping the balls pre game). The game from there went back and forth with some enterprising play from both sides, then a great shift occurred by our backs with James Manns of loosing a rib fame, giving a nice ball to release rookie Oyster Harry Tate down the left edge. Little did Harry know that the opposition fullback came out of nowhere to with what can only describe as a good old fashion Sonny Bill shoulder charge and stop him in his tracks. With the conceding penalty, the Oysties mounted pressure and continued the back and forth manner of the game, which saw Dimitri run fifty meters to score a sensational try and on the way past he saw part of his ribs still left over from the bone rattler shortly beforehand.
Exhibit B : Mr Saturday Night Fever with his dance companion Nicholas Stubbs enjoying a beverage post match
Phhhhhew – Let’s all take a breath, it’s half time and with some stern words from Anthony and Judd around maintaining our shape and depth, the Oysters were ready to challenge for the second half.
Back into the contest and we were really showing some great steel in defense with quality line speed and chop tackling. The Canterbury side managed to get a try back on the Oysties but that didn’t halt the resolve of the boys. The decision to continue to have our pretty boy Roy at flyhalf directing the lads around, helped with the flow and game plan execution and with help from our ever ready bunny Tommy Taylor, both got over the line. Unfortunately Tommy couldn’t negotiate a try with the referee and touch judge, but with a neat little show and go to score next to the post Roy got the Oysties third. The Oysties really had some continuity building, which saw a lovely play off the kick off that saw us string some phases together that in which the Wallabies would be jealous of. Tommy Mencinsky bamboozled the defense (and himself) before Roy went through another slight hole before being taken down short of the line again. The Oysties mounted some serious phases together and with Hamish Lorang looking to get his stats up for the game and coming in off the wing looking for his third clean out of the game, there was a seagulling Hugh Morgan that strolled over in the corner to extend the lead. As the game came to the end it was pleasing to see the oysties really executing the style of play and game plan that we want to see and some quality rugby knowledge to close the game out.
Exhibit C: Refreshments ready for post game
Next week we’re back at Lyne Park taking on Chatswood and we will be looking to improve on the first round performance with great focus on our shape and execution under pressure
Exhibit D: Oystie debutants getting ready for the famous Oyster Beer
It could be said that our weekend of Oysters duties truly kicked off after the final siren, for we had a special weekend to commemorate. The Anzac Day long weekend is a special date in the Oysties calendar, a cherished opportunity to give back to the community that we love so much.
Exhibit E : Come in spinner
This year, the Oysters were honoured to be gifted a 2m x 2m square of hallowed carpet, at the bottom level of our beloved Light Bridgade Hotel. Once again rumours in the East have travelled far and wide, as punters lined up in droves to get inside the pub, and chance their hand at some Anzac Two-Up, Oyster style!
Exhibit F: Ringmaster Sam wood whipping the crowd into a frenzy
Just like a hot lap of Bathurst, our style of the great Anzac tradition could be described as very fast and very loud. With club presidents, ex-players, current forwards and outside backs all taking a turn on the microphone, it could be said in future years the LBH will require a tarp on the floor, to catch all the dribble and sharp wit flowing from the lips of the Oysters who hosted.
For any friends of the Oysters who need an MC for a wedding, we recommend trying to make friends with the Thom ‘The Grenfell Gargler’ Taylor and Rowdy Loudy Woody, who demonstrated master of ceremony skills on par with John Burgess, the host of Burgo's Catch Phrase. After running the festivities for over four hours, a special thanks to all Oysters both past and present, who came to help facilitate and introduce our new Oysters to our unique brand of community spirit.