Under 15s Match Report
Sunday 23rd February 2014
Staines U15s visited their closest friends and rivals Twickenham (TRFC) on a windy Sunday. The 12 noon kick-off must have suited the Staines players, 19 of whom volunteered for duty. A more sleepy-eyed set of TRFC players arrived, but only numbered 14 players with just five minutes to go before kick-off. Staines player Ricardo volunteered to play for TRFC in the first half even though another two late-comers arrived just before kick-off.
The match got underway with the excellent Stephen, from Staines refereeing.
TRFC like to split their forwards across the pitch at restarts and kick-offs. This usually confuses Staines for the first couple, but not today, as Staines seemed completely switched on from the start. A clean catch and the Staines forwards began what was to become an exemplar in forward might.
Staines immediately demonstrated very impressive forward play. Unable to compete against this power TRFC’s forwards were second-best in all phases of play. Great presentation and good support runs from mobile forwards meant that TRFC were being battered. With no possession Staines occupied TRFC territory and silenced the home crowd as their forwards wilted.
A more dynamic line-out performance meant that Staines were completely in charge. Jason, probably the most dynamic forward was keenly competing at a line-out which became a ruck. Jason charged through the middle, picking up the ball and crossing the try line on the left wing. But not happy with the position Jason raced under the posts to score the first try and gave Alex a nice and easy conversion despite the blustery conditions. TRFC 0:7 Staines (T: Jason G, C: Alex)
Luke was enjoying his new position at hooker and well-supported by props Jack T and Rhys and the engine room of Jason and Jack T, Staines were winning the ball comfortably, pushing the TRFC scrum backwards. Their only problem was controlling the push, making sure that the scrum did not go forward beyond the permitted 1.5m. Returning Captain Harry G was in charge of the line-out throw today.
His enthusiasm and fitness was a great asset to the team as Harry seemed to be everywhere, supporting and driving forward with the ball. But it was Rhys and Jack T and Josh G and Jack F who were the main battering rams. Their willingness to take the ball at pace meant that Staines always broke the gain line and set TRFC on the back-foot.
This is the sort of game that is perfect for Sam. He was also puncturing the TRFC defence on frequent occasions, darting through non-existent gaps. But capitalising on second-phase play is his forte. 15m out and running straight and hard Sam crashed over the line taking several TRFC players with him to score Staines’ second, just to the left of the posts, Alex converting. TRFC 0:14 Staines (T: Sam, C: Alex)
On the very rare occasion that TRFC got the ball the Staines backs showed good line speed. Occasionally flirting with offside at the back of the ruck, they stopped most runners in their tracks. The forward display just kept on relentlessly pushing TRFC back. With Jamie at full-back any kick over the top was competently dealt with, Jamie often causing havoc with his return runs. A scrum from about 15m out in the middle of the pitch gave Josh G the chance of a No. 8 pick-up. Josh G went on an unstoppable run smashing over under the posts, giving Alex his third successive conversion. TRFC 0:21 Staines (T: Josh G, C: Alex)
This Staines performance was very impressive. Staines had willing runners at every turn. Players, respectful of the referee were dismantling the opposition in a disciplined way. Rhys was next to score. Just reward for his mighty runs, Rhys ran from 10m and bulldozed everything in front of him to score a well-deserved try, near to the posts allowing Alex to convert four from four. TRFC 0:28 Staines (T: Rhys, C: Alex) With the game now won it was time to play in a more expansive way. Staines were urged to move the ball out to the wings. And so it came to pass. A lovely ball was passed from Alex to Robert to Aaron. Aaron was about 25m from the TRFC line with Andrew outside him on the wing. He ran straight as an arrow towards an oncoming TRFC defender. Aaron’s perfectly timed pass released Andrew and fixed the TRFC defender, who was left helpless to watch Andrew score Staines’ fifth and final try of the half in the corner, Alex missing a difficult kick. TRFC 0:33 Staines (T: Andrew)
Half Time: TRFC 0:33 Staines
There could not have been a more comprehensive performance than the one executed in first half by Staines. A powerhouse of a Staines pack just blew the opposition away. Four well-worked tries by the forwards capped off by a delightful score by the backs. This was total domination.
Some of the forwards were now rested with Jack T, Rhys and Josh G taking a well-earned break. Later on Jack F followed. This was now the time to experiment and play some players in different positions. The Staines coaches were now very keen to give the backs as much ball as they could. Ricardo, having played really well for TRFC now joined the Staines ranks.
The mantra had now changed. Do not smash the TRFC forwards. Win the ball, release the backs. Again Aaron played a huge part in the next score. Just as his straight running had given Andrew the space to score in the first half, he did the very same thing to open the scoring in the second half. Aaron, again running straight made the space this time for Ashton to score. A really well-worked try. This was Ashton’s time to give another Staines player some game-time, a great way to finish. TRFC 0:38 Staines (T: Ashton)
The change in personnel and positioning was taking Staines a bit of getting used to. The Staines scrum was not as dominant and as the fitness levels are not as they could be, TRFC did start to get back into the game. Staines were occasionally pushed off the ball in the scrum and counter-rucked.
Whatever the score in a game of rugby if the opposition is still keen and concentration drops then there is always the possibility of a team scoring and spoiling a clean sheet. And this was no exception. A TRFC player named Josh will score tries if he is given space and not tackled. Josh probably wasted playing on the wing got such an opportunity and made the most of it as he scored in the right corner TRFC 5:38 Staines (T: TRFC)
But Staines came back again, annoyed at letting TRFC get a soft try. TRFC could not cope with the strength and speed of winger Andrew today. Equally at home in the middle of a maul, competing for possession or fending off weak tacklers and speeding past them, Andrew demonstrated another skill for his second try of the day.
Staines were trying to get the ball wide now at every opportunity. And so a ball starting on the far right of the pitch was passed through several sets of hand to Andrew, this time in the centre position on the left-hand side of the pitch. Winger Ricardo was eager for the pass and the two covering defenders were expecting Ricardo was going to receive the ball. As Andrew feinted to pass both TRFC players commenced to descend upon Ricardo. But Andrew kept hold of the ball and sold an outrageous dummy as he changed direction to saunter in to score just to the left of the posts, Alex converting. TRFC 5:45 Staines (T: Andrew, C: Alex)
Staines were conscious of the instructions to move the ball wide. The final try of the afternoon was the epitome of passing the ball through hands to the wing. Andrew was again in the right place at the right time having received the ball from Aaron via Alex. Surely he must score his hat-trick? Generously, Andrew, just a metre from the line passed to Ricardo this time and Ricardo scored Staines’ eighth try of the day. Just reward for Ricardo who was the best player for TRFC in the first half. TRFC 5:50 Staines (T: Ricardo)
Full Time: TRFC 5: 50 Staines
The same score for the last two weeks, both away from home. Clean sheets in rugby games are rare and highly prized. It also must be said that lack of concentration and poor tackling has led to Staines conceding two tries and throwing away the chance of locking the opposition out.
Still, this was a very impressive performance with a welcome balance of tries scored by backs and forwards alike. The manner of two of the tries in particular, passing through several sets of hands was a pleasure to see. This was a much better display by Staines. The forwards totally dominated the first 20 minutes and thereby won the game. The incisive running from Jack T and Rhys in particular smashed the TRFC defence apart, setting up good clean ball. Aaron’s strong defence and straight running, “fixing” the defenders in order to make try-scoring passes was a joy to witness. The line-out performance was much better with Jack F claiming the lion’s share of possession. Alex’s kicking on another windy day was excellent. Staines could have done with a more competitive game before next Sunday’s final league match at home against Wasps B however. Such was the dominance of possession TRFC stood little chance and rarely threatened.
Tries: Jason, Sam, Josh G, Rhys, Andrew (2), Ashton, Ricardo Conv: Alex (5)
Team: Rhys, Luke, Jack T, Jack F, Jason, Sam, Josh G, Harry G, Freddie, Calum, Robert, Craig, Alex, Aaron, Andrew, Ashton, Joe S, Jamie, Ricardo