“Dec is such an intelligent rugby player and is very well respected among the group, so he is brilliant for the club”
THE local derby with rivals Cambridge swayed against Stortford on Saturday, as a penalty at the death saw Andy Long’s men go down by a point. First XV flanker Dan Elsom sat down with the head coach to hear how the side hopes to finish the year.
DE: It’s always tough to lose a local derby. Do you think the rivalry with Cambridge affected how the group prepared themselves for the match?
AL: We were confident, coming off the back of a good result against Loughborough and I thought we prepared really well for Cambridge. We knew what to expect, we knew what the conditions would be like and we knew it would have a derby feel to it. The boys were excited; a game like that needs very little motivation. We had a load of desire, but unfortunately you need more than that to win games.
DE: Going in to the half time break up by two points, do you think there was a turning point in the second 40 minutes that gave momentum to Cambridge?
AL: It felt like it was a typical derby game throughout really. It was an arm wrestle and no one side really had a solid grasp on the game. We had quite a few chances down on their line early on, and their yellow card could have opened it up for us, but we never made them pay.
Some of our game management wasn’t where it needed to be. Even when we were ahead in the last stages, we had opportunities to control the game and we didn’t take them. That is ultimately what cost us the game. We didn’t keep our foot on the pedal when we had the opportunity to.
Key for us is recognising that there are many different ways to win a game of rugby – what wins you a game one week may not do the job the next. The best teams are the ones that adapt and are able to react quickly to the flow of a game and follow that to win.
DE: Hooker Dec Caulfield suffered an ankle injury on Saturday that will see him sidelined for a few weeks. Just how big of a loss is that to the side?
AL: Dec was producing another very strong performance right up to the time of his injury, so he will be missed. He has really been one of the players of 2017 for us. Its great to look back at where he was, with the huge talent that he has that maybe wasn’t shining through as much as it could have, compared to where he is now. He has really just taken responsibility for his rugby and has worked hard on his conditioning to improve his game. He’s been a stand out player for us for the last 12 months, along with guys like Matt Tomlinson, he’s been consistently strong.
Dec is such an intelligent rugby player and is very well respected among the group, so he is brilliant for the club. Guys like Dec are why we need to invest time in our local talent, in the hope that we can develop these younger guys and have them want to come back and play for the first team.
DE: With the final game of 2017 against former National 2 South rivals Old Elthamians approaching, how important is a win this week?
Updated 18:38 - 28 Dec 2017 by Perry Oliver
AL: This week is massive. We want to stay in sixth place leading in to Christmas, and we have to win if we are going to do that.
They will come with a lot of confidence having won their last three games; especially considering the last few times they have been to Silver Leys they have won. They have had a relatively settled team for the last few rounds, which means they will be very well organised, but most of the players are guys we are very familiar with. They have a very dangerous backrow who will make life hard for us at the breakdown and that will be a major strength for them.
But if the boys can’t get up for a game like this, they aren’t going to get up for any game. We will really focus on this one game, learn from what we did wrong last week and look to finish the year strongly.