Under 14 A
Autumn has fully arrived and we were greeted with a glorious sunny yet chilly morning. Both our guests and ourselves had been hit by half term, but credit to both clubs for still be able to field two strong teams.
This was our first outing against Westcliff, but we knew that had given some of our local rivals a good game recently so we were expecting a tough test. Added to this was a lack of match time for some players due to match cancellation (on our part) and a few of the boys looked a bit nervous and were quiet during the warm ups.
We had a squad of 18 for the day with a varied pack and a fluid back line. The ref was a good one and the scene set.
Old Albanians kicked off and Westcliff were at us straight away. As with most teams this season, Westcliff had some big lads and some smaller lads (we were hardly a big team today). The opposition were soon attempting to punch through the middle of us and after a few rucks a whole was found and they piled through but some great covering tackles halted the attack and we were able to clear our lines. A good indication that we had a committed team against us today who were going to run hard. The opening exchanges were dominated by our guests, with us having very little possession. The boys made their tackles though and we started to find our way into the game.
We were about 10 minutes into the game when we started to get some good territory and started setting up some phases, with good ball carries by Sam Hewitt, Aiden Chennels and Cameron Haxton. Our backs were able to get the ball wide on the left and after a good phase of play, with the ball transferring from Ben at scrum half through Oli who fed Harry who drew in a defender before passing to Aiden who dotted down in the corner. Big ask for Oli to slot the extras, but we were 5-0 up.
We had decided on rolling subs before the game, so we were constantly switching players in and out. This did not disrupt our flow that we were finding though and the next to make a superb break was Danny. Steaming down the left again, drawing tacklers before the ball was spun across the pitch to the right for Harry to charge though from inside centre to score on the right side of the posts. Still not making it easy for Oli, but that made 10 – 0.
Changes still rolling. We still had defending to do and there were times when we were back near our 22 and Westcliff were attacking hard, but all the boys stood tall and did not shirk their challenges. We had time for 1 more try before half time, this time with Oli going in under the posts, and easy slot for the extras and at half time it was 17-0.
Questions were asked at half time, the boys were not happy with their line speed, some passes were going astray but our hands and width were good. The objective set for the boys today was to play an off loading game, all agreed that this had not been employed as much as it could. Lets see how they got on in the second half.
The sun was now behind us and we were attacking from right to left. For the first 15 minutes of the second half we were in more control setting up good phases. We had some effective ball carrying, clean wins at the break down and more importantly we were off loading as asked. This led to probably the try off the day. Owen had made a line break, kept his arms free and popped a pass out of the tackle to Aiden who moved it wide, it came to Jo Mason who had 2 players outside him but he saw a nice gap and went for it. Jo still had 30 meters to go but then cut inside 2 defenders and sprinted clear to dot down under the posts. A lovely team try with true individual skill to finish it off. Could we top that? Up stepped Finley Rees. From kick off Owen (who had a solid pair off hands under the ball all day) set off, Martin was in support and then with quick hands Fin had the ball by the half way line. Who knew Fin was this quick, he showed his winger his heels and he was off. Down the side line he went to score a great try. Not content with one try, Fin managed to bag himself another soon afterwards. This put us 36-0 up with about 15 to play.
Our last try was back with Aiden Chennels. One of our strengths in our pack is the boys speed. I honestly do not know who are collectively faster, our forwards or backs. Anyhow, Aiden got his second of the game and we slotted an extra 2.
The last 10 minutes required us to dig deep defensively as Westcliff were determined to come away with points. A superb rear guard action was mounted, with us back on our try line throwing bodies galore at that. Great tackles were made by Jack Brighton, Eoighn Morgan but tackle of the day has to go to our full back (at this time) Elliott. Westcliff sent their biggest runner at us from 5 yards out, and Elliot got nice and low, not only did he stop him but he also sent him back 5 yards. A brilliant tackle and from that we got a turn over and managed to clear our lines.
At the end it was 43-0 score, but it was never a 43-0 game. Westcliff are a great bunch, never stopped running and made us work hard. All the boys played well
As a quick note, it was lovely to see so many of our walking wounded on the touchline cheering the boys on even though they could not play, a great show of team morale and camaraderie.
Under 14s Head Coach
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