Under 14 A
Man of the match:
A beautiful first morning at Woollams today was an inviting pre-cursor to the long season ahead of us, a chance for the lads to showcase their skills honed over pre-season and try out the new age-grade 8-man scrum (up from 6) and uncontested lineouts (as opposed to a free pass).
Warm-up knocks to Leo McGrigor and Cameron Caldwell meant James Wells’ over-zealous punctuality was rewarded with a chance to have a run out at both of today’s fixtures. Warmed up and the referee having had his words with the skippers and front rows, Reading kicked-off to start proceedings.
The old acid test of whichever sides scrum gets the nudge should be victorious may have given false hope to the OA faithful. New powerhouse Ragib Chowdury and stalwart Harry Crawley had their hips and shoulders aligned nicely beneath the Berkshire outfit’s front row thanks to the squattest hooker in southern England Sam Waters. Dominance in the scrum continued throughout the game to the delight of 1st team prop and U14s waterboy Matt Kazman, however, in open play, OAs had to deal with an aggressive hard defence.
Reading’s persistence paid off as they touched down first, a forgettable converted try, 0 – 7. Responding with pressure from the restart, led to a sloppy lineout near their 22 and a couple of missed opportunities was followed by a good working up the pitch from forwards George Hamblett, James Coleman and wiry blindside James Baxter, showing themselves for No. 10 Harry Pope, whose own show and go’s helped break the seemingly impenetrable line of defence. Where Popey found gaps, Alistair Lechartier at 12 created them through hard lines and marauding running, combining pace and upper body strength sublimely to hand-off would-be defenders and grab OAs first of the day under the posts. Full-back Toby Trewin converted. 7 – 7
Now they were off and in attack OAs ran on and on looking for the line-breaks. Charlie Brunt at 13 couldn’t dance his way past but Wellsy swaggered to a different beat, by the look of it death metal, taking a flat ball from Popey and Samoan-side-stepping his way to the line. Conversion missed. 12 – 7.
Big Al certainly showed up in defence where others had not and tracked a couple of linebreaks back to keep OAs in the lead. George took a breather and Chris Lundrigan stepped in at 2nd row. Another replacement was needed shortly after as Reading’s ferocity in the tackle stepped up a notch leaving winger Ethan Teague down. Finlay Hall in with a Reading ball on our 22. OA’s soft defence showed itself as Reading levelled the try count but missed the kick.
One chance presented itself on the left wing where a hospital pass was wonderfully taken by Finlay only for a quick-thinking Reading to turn over possession when he was found wanting for support. Up on their 5m line, quicker support and a sharp recycle could have edged us to the break with the lead.
HT 12 -12
The hill with us and a solid scrum may have given the impression of certainty for the boys, and the lineout too improved with a trusty front ball working effectively. However, perhaps complacency overcame, as our tackling became lazier and two soft, unconverted tries were run in by the Reading back-line. 12 – 22.
Some courageous back-tracking and try-saving tackles, first from Charlie and then by Finlay, lifted heads and with the ball in hand, OAs dug deep to keep running hard, seeking strong lines and keeping the ball alive. Will Powell, as natural a 7 there ever was and having been position-less thus far in his rugby career, was instrumental in Charlie’s try down the right, retaining possession at the breakdown. Popey’s cavalier drop-goal conversion paid off to keep the flow going. 19 – 22, we’re back in the game.
The much-tipped as a future OAs Club Captain James Carruthers took a breather from the wing for the rejuvenated Ethan following a converted try by the M4 dwellers to make it 19 – 29 and after numerous crash-ball runs by Ragib, a symptom of a rare variety of white-line fever which kicks in anywhere after the halfway line, the tighthead hobbled off, a knock to his ankle suffered as he tripped over the Reading defender he had bounced out of his way. His no-nonsense running was not in vain as it sucked in the Reading defence to give our back line the space it needed for inside centre and captain Big Al to cross over for his second of the day. 24 – 29.
On came the recovered ‘Crazy Horse’ Cameron to put his mark on the game as a lock with George moving into the front row. Further hard running and close support from the pack helped to move us back into Reading’s half from the restart. The back 3 of Toby, Finley and Ethan worked back a clearance kick and 2nd phase down the left to make good ground, but with the ball in hand, although not running hard, Reading found gaps in our dog-legged defence, with only their own butter-fingers stopping them from scoring – two or three times they failed to ground the ball.
Sam at hooker was replaced by the industrious James Carruthers, one of the few young men that could comfortably play in the front row, back row, at 9 and across the back-line. The new role as openside proved too much for Will Powell – whether he worked so hard that fine morning or he worked so little over the Summer is yet to be determined – as he gave way for James Coleman’s re-entry to the game. The fresh legs were not enough to stop Reading running in one final converted try to take the game beyond our reach. Barnstorming, first try-scorer No. 8 Wellsy came off with ten minutes to go after many carries, broken tackles and metres gained while Powell and Ragib returned for Baxter and Lundrigan, who had run themselves into the ground. No more points went on the scoreboard.
Final score; 24 – 36
Reading awarded our ghost-running No. 10 Harry Pope Man of the Match
The victorious visitors were worthy of the win as their solid defence proved too much. On the attack however they were gifted from a poor team showing in the tackle by the home side and our sluggishness to form a strong defensive line. Plenty of work-ons.
Special mention goes to the often mis-spelt Dan Edworthy, whose nuanced display at 9 gave quick ball when needed, kept the game simple and direct and also showed signs of authority at the back of the ruck which looks like a turning point in his whole game. Never getting caught in position he helped the team maintain its structure going forward.
Under 14 Comms
There is no gallery currently available for this fixture.
There are no previous fixtures between these teams.