Under 14 B
Man of the match:
“Nobody ever beats Wales at rugby, they just score more points” – Graham Mourie, former New Zealand flanker following a narrow victory in Cardiff, 1978
A miserable Sunday morning found a bright shining prospect hidden in the shadow of the over-sized man-child of Royston as OAs Bs started their campaign in fine style, if not victorious. Crazy Horse led at blindside and we received with the gradient in our favour on pitch 2.
The one-man show from up the A1 scored first, second and third, picking and going from the back of the scrum and being fed from his 9 and 10 at every opportunity. Memories of years gone by were stirred by this type of play. Would anyone now want to board a flight with the Wright Brothers? We’ve moved on. Tackles-galore were missed in the opening quarter (and throughout much of the game) but when the ball was in our possession, something quite brilliant happened.
Dan Edworthy distributed time and again to Oscar de Jong at 10 without fail who found ready and willing a pod of forwards who ran hard, ran straight and looked after the ball in contact. But not only were there pods lined up for him, he also had the luxury of a well-formed back-line consisting of no-no-nonsense, suicide-line running 12 Will Duncan, the free-spirited Louis Beale at 13 and a back three consisting of Marcus Devenport and James Carruthers on the wings and the dancing Toby Trewin at full-back.
Where the team worked hard to get into positions outside of Oscar, they worked harder still to support the ball carriers. Seldom were Royston hands laid on our ball, owing to two key elements in the breakdown; the work of the ball carrier on the deck, exhibited perfectly by Louis Beale and open-side Tom Rankin who enjoyed an extra roll post-tackle to force the would-be jackallers to back-track and lose their footing, and the effective first strike of the rucking support which cleared out nicely leaving Dan to spin out quick ball.
With the perfect platform formed from good technique and support, OAs managed to move up the pitch in multiple phases, more akin to senior rugby than juniors. Their longest spell was seven phases, twice. Royston managed three at best. Oscar and Dan didn’t have to shout too loud for options at each phase and following a couple of kick-chases, after the necessary grunt work from the forwards, notably the second-row partnership of George Hamblett and James Coleman and front-rowers Sam Waters and Alex Dagenais, Toby touched down for an unconverted try. Heads were raised. Two further tries were added to Royston’s tally with one successful conversion, through a good boot on the Royston 10.
HT 27 – 5
The second half and we had the slope against us, but an iron will to continue the phase-work displayed before the break. On instruction to ignore the score, and the Royston coach having shifted his all-scoring 8 to the wing in a fine move of sportsmanship, our brave boys in red, blue and yellow continued to recycle the ball and move across the width of the pitch. Fresh legs on the wings, Finlay Hall and Ethan Teague made great gains while Theo Pinell-Brown took over Will Duncan’s crashball antics with a less direct but just as effective approach to getting past the Royston gainline. Chris Lundrigan stepped into the second row and George Hamblett moved up into loosehead and JC stepped from the wing to hooker while Sam and Alex took a break.
The change in the pack personnel made no difference to a consistent effort at scrum time. Both teams were solid and neither lost any of their own ball against the head. The same was the case at the lineout with a couple of infringements from both sides as well as the odd wayward throw.
With the Royston 8 on the wing, their midfield turned up with some good hands on the break and clever kicking from their 10. Their work resulted in a couple of tries, though helped tremendously by the home team’s unwillingness to tackle their runners early on. Crazy Horse rallied his men beneath the posts and we trudged onwards, never failing to fight back.
Louis caught a stray hand in his eye and made way for the impressive Finlay to move into outside-centre, Marcus to get back on and a final switch for Sam back in at 2 and Dan to take a break for the final 10 minutes for JC, the Renaissance Man himself, to become playmaker at 9. Chris Lundrigan was feeling a bit worse for wear so removed himself too for Will Duncan to make a second appearance of the day but instead at lock, with the ever-present-at-the-breakdown Brandon Parker and James Coleman dropping to No. 8.
The new-look OAs seemed to spark some renewed enthusiasm. Brandon carried hard up the middle several times and the phase-play kicked in once more. Too little too late perhaps, but Will capitalised on a half yard given him, galloping out of the sprawled defence’s reach and over the try-line for our second unconverted try of the day.
Hertfordshire’s finest ref alerted us that it would be the final play from the re-start. For years to come, no-one will truly know what the catalyst was for what happened next. Did the limitation of time spur him on? Was it the swelling feeling of sporting pride that gave him super-human strength? Or did he just really want to get on the scoreboard? Any which way, Tariq El-Jumaily, our tighthead giant who had not put a foot wrong all day, caught the ball in the loose and bulldozed his way past three or four defenders, breaking tackles with his unerring stride, handing off to evade the usually inevitable hunt of a heavyweight prop and accelerated off and away to bag the last try of the day. Here I would say that he got the try he deserved, but this often denotes that a player who had worked hard all game is gifted a walk-over score. Not in this case. Tariq did deserve it, but he had an awful lot to do to cover those sixty metres by himself and each step he took showed the enormity of his efforts. Having contested in the heart of over a dozen scrums, made countless runs and hit even more rucks, he summoned the energy from God knows where to stick a parting shot on the victorious boys from the flat country – and as everyone know, the final five minutes of a match is what’s remembered and talked about in the bar afterwards. Slickly converted by Ethan.
Full-time 48 – 17
A gallant performance from a side steeped in rugby maturity. Loads to look at for training but a superb basis from which to develop.
MotM is a flip of the coin between two young men; narrowly missing out is the stamina-oozing lock/No. 8 James Coleman who did not stop running all morning, but coming second to Tariq’s solo try is nothing to be ashamed of. Well played Tariq!
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