On a positively balmy February morning and a heavy, muddy pitch our U11 hordes lined up against local rivals Bromsgrove. We learnt a lot.
Bournville 1. Coached by Jon and Tim (Match Report by me!)
At the start of the morning this large Bournville 1 squad was challenged by the coaches to back up their excellent recent performances against Lichfield and Camp Hill and put Bromsgrove to the sword. Specifically they were reminded to tackle low, ruck hard, run fast and look for colleagues in space. Unfortunately whilst almost without fail every single player managed to do some of those at some stage we had one of those mornings where we didn't quite gel as a team.
We started very poorly gifting away 2 tries in the first 2 minutes as we seemed surprised by the geometry of the pitch and expected someone else to make the tackle. But after that we slowly got back in to the game and we dominated possession. We certainly ran hard in attack with Matt, Callum and Will to the fore and we had some eager support runners too (the 2 Rory's, Mason and Thomas H) but the passes didn't stick. We needed to pass when it was easier to do so rather than when it was too crowded and too difficult. In defence there were few missed tackles and some excellent counter rucking and aggression even if we did flirt too close to the offside line. The team deserved scores and did cross twice after bullocking runs from Callum and Matt but with the TMO unavailable the grounding could not be confirmed. Eventually we did cross for a score which ended the match 3-1 to Bromsgove. Proving that those first 2 minutes were so crucial!
In contrast to the first game we started this game at pace and soon went 2 scores up ourselves. Some good play and quick hands putting our pacey runners into space that they capatalised from. There was again strong defence from all involved (Twiggy leading from the front here with some excellent aggression. Matt not far behind) and it looked like we were going to streak away from our hosts. However they were made from sterner stuff than we perhaps realised and came back at us to stay in the game. And then, to be honest, things went a bit wrong. Instead of remembering how we like to play the game we fell back in to some bad habits. Too often players ran away from support, carried too far, flung hopeful miracle passes, and ran backwards. It wasn't through lack of effort though and instead it looked like some people were just trying too hard. Annoyingly some simple communication could have sorted it out. Players were in the right position but didn't call for the ball and plans went awry when receivers didn't tell others what they were trying to do! And all this time Bromsgrove just hung in there before scoring with the final play to take the win!
So 2 losses in the 2 games but it could so easily have been the opposite! The lessons to learn have to be
- Start the games strong
- Pass the ball when it is easy to do so. Not when it requires a miracle! We need to go back to the draw a man and pass technique rather than the solo run.
- Stay behind the ball! Or put more simply. If you are ahead of the man with the ball you are in effect useless!
Bournville 2. Coached by Ian, Alfred, Rich and Jim. Match report by Jim.
And so to Bournville 2. 2 games, 1 win, 1 loss. It almost felt like completely different opposition.
We were up for it from the off in game 1, with some hard running, tackling and some good rucking. A good performance overall but we sometimes left ourselves at risk at the breakdown. Bromsgrove were very good at rucking over the ball, where as we were guilty of trying to get to the ball too quickly, not rucking over/ protecting it and then getting rucked off the ball. We cannot just rely on players like Freddie G, Michael, George and Jacob to do the lions share of the work over the ball, we must support and protect the player in the ruck. Having said that, the team played really well with a real sense of urgency, winning 7-1 in the end. Well done.
Game 2 was a different game altogether. This was a tough Bromsgrove side, with a good kicking game. We tried hard and the players should be proud, but again we didn’t dominate the ruck well enough and didn’t run from deep in attack. We deserved a draw, and could have won, but we didn’t get on the right side of the ref. Too often we were offside defensively and gave away numerous penalties, which made it difficult for the boys to get in to the game. They shouldn’t be criticised though, they kept competing to the final whistle and were unlucky to have lost 2-1.
We need to learn to play smart rugby and listen to the ref. If we are told consistently that we are offside, the team need to drop back and make sure they are on side. This should in no way diminish the teams desire to push up hard in defence, we need that commitment, we just need to play to the laws.
We must also look for support runners in attack, and not individually run too far, when an easier pass could have been made earlier. Running on to the ball from deep will make it harder for the opposition, having to tackle a player running at pace.
Plenty of things to work on, but a good performance overall. And as ever our thanks to our hosts Bromsgrove. After a number of seasons clashing only during the festivals it was great to get some time on the pitch with them during the regular season. Hopefully it will be the dawn of a new local rivalry.