A Fantastic End to the Season
Tri-Nations - England, Scotland & Essex!
What a fantastic end to the season for ARFC U15s, as we faced two touring sides; Whitecraigs RFC from Glasgow and Brentwood RFC, from just round the M25. It was agreed that we would play a round-robin format; one match against each of Whitecraigs, Brentwood A & Brentwood B, of 20 or 30 minutes per game.
Shorn of a number of players by a D of E expedition, we managed to enlist six players from Chesham Stags RFC to ensure we had the numbers to play three matches - we are extremely grateful to Henry, Alfie, Callum, John, Ethan and Jack for their unstinting efforts on the day, and all six proved excellent (temporary) recruits.
We opened against Brentwood A, and the first ten minutes saw both sides retaining possession well but being thwarted by superb defensive work; John made a searing break from our 22, but couldn't get the final pass away; Ays camped on the Brentwood 5 metre line but were repeatedly kept out, at times only by inches. Finally, the breakthrough came through a slick backs move, from a line-out, as Archie's pass out the back allowed John to cut a snaking line to the corner for the first try.
Ays' backs and forwards continued to compete hard at the breakdown, disrupting Brentwood's flow and turning the ball over, and one such turnover saw the ball fall to Harvey, who spotted a tiny gap in the defensive line, went straight through it, and left the defence for dead to go in under the posts.
Brentwood continued to carry hard, but found the Aylesbury defence to be equal to the task, and on a number of occasions were pushed back downfield by some excellent exits. For their part, Ays always looked to move the ball quickly, but too often the final ball was spilled. Final score 14-0 to ARFC.
After an hour's break, soaking up the sunshine and noisily supporting the Whitecraigs team against a far bigger, more physical Brentwood squad, a reshuffled Ays took the field for game 2 against Brentwood B, who were definitely more of a handful than Brentwood A - full of big, powerful ball-carriers and some very aggressive tacklers. Sam, Stephan, Will and Alfie all put in huge shifts, fighting for every ball, tackling hard, and carrying well. Brentwood moved slowly downfield and, after a number of attempts were repelled, their big prop scored from a pick & go.
A scrum on our 22 allowed us to move the ball wide to Harvey, who punctured the Brentwood defence and found Stephan on his shoulder, who headed hard for the corner, only to be tackled short of the line. Ays recycled well, and clever feet from Henry bought his outside backs time and space, to send Harvey in for a try. Minutes later, Alfie came very close to scoring from a superb break from the base of the scrum, making it to the line, but adjudged to have put a foot into touch.
After the break, Brentwood piled on the pressure - Evan heroically denying a try by preventing the grounding of the ball on one occasion - and the defence switched off momentarily and allowed Brentwood to score from a five metre scrum. Unbowed, Ays came back at them and the final score of the game was another try off first phase; from the top of the line-out, quick hands allowed Archie to join the line from full back, and his delayed pass sent Harvey through on a hard line and in for his second of the game. Honours even at 14-14.
Five minutes' break for water, and Ays were back on against our Scottish opponents. Fielding the kickoff, Ays comfortably recycled the ball through two phases, and a great step from Simon saw him through the defensive line and through to score from his own 10-metre line. Quick ball provided by the Ays pack, followed by good hands in the backs, saw Sam cut through in the wide channel for our second score; unselfish offloading from Louie and Will put Evan in for a deserved score in the corner; try 4 came from a great turn of pace from Alfie down the right wing. To their credit, Whitecraigs tough for every ball, but Callum and Will were proving a real handful at the breakdown, stealing ball regularly, and one of Callum's steals allowed us to move quickly and send John clear down the left.
By now, the heat was making for tired legs all-round, and shortly after Evan was denied a second try by the corner-flag, a couple of big forward carries allowed Max to dummy and go under the posts. Finally, after a few minutes of solid Whitecraigs pressure, Ethan forced a knock-on, Chris pounced on the loose ball, and streaked away down the wing for the last score of the day,
Our thanks to Brentwood RFC and Whitecraigs RFC for a brilliant day's rugby, to Bryan for organising it so well and to all of the ARFC staff and volunteers for their hard work and hospitality. A fitting end to a great season of U15 rugby. See you next season...