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Under-14s - Match centre

Hemel Hempstead (Camelot) RUFC
Sun 14 Jan 11:00 - League Full time

FIVE star performance to begin 2018

Under 14's carry on from where they left off...

Back at the end of November Camelot visited Tring for a friendly that turned out to be the toughest, and closest battle of the season with the lead chopping and changing as the game moved towards a finale in which Camelot snatched victory that some described as "more tense than a campsite." This weekend's rematch at Chaulden Lane, an official league fixture, was eagerly anticipated by both sets of players, parents and coaches...and it didn't disappoint.

In perfect rugby conditions the game started slightly late as the Camelot players lined up with the referee ready to go, but the opposition were still in the changing rooms! Eventually we got underway and it was the home side applying the early pressure, albeit up against a stubborn defence. Phase after phase, very little ground made. The ball would change possession to Tring, but they struggled to find a way out of their own half as the opening ten minutes saw some of the toughest and most ferocious, controlled, rugby of the season as territory slowly pushed into the Tring twenty-two.

It was the first scrums of the match that gave Camelot a psychological advantage as the power of the pack pushed the opposition backwards. After three successive dominant scrums space finally opened up, Dan removing the ball from the back of the crowded area to burst through the defensive line to score the opening try and break the deadlock. The conversion was missed, 5-0.

The remainder of the half remained tight as Tring started to take the upper hand, pressuring the Camelot defence, looking to get even before the interval. It looked like they were about to do that when they broke away from the back of a scrum to find space on the wing, but before they could get over the 5 metre line they were bundled into touch and the ball was cleared from the line out.

The respite was only temporary. Charging straight back at a hard-working defence Tring were not going to give-up, powering into the breakdowns and moving the ball around swiftly they again looked like they must score on the stroke of half-time - A clean break through the middle was successfully latched onto, but as the Tring Back fought his way over the line James Norman was hanging on his tail and successfully held the ball up to prevent the score. The half-time whistle blew and Camelot led by a slender 5-0 margin.

The second period was every bit as close, and every bit as ferocious - The match was going to be defined by small margins, with the slightest of errors likely to be punished. Tiredness was going to play a part as well, both sides had put their bodies on the line in the tackle and were starting to look for new options in the attack. A couple of times Tring looked to width for a break through, but any sign of gaining space was soon shutdown by a lunging Terence (forced into more defensive duties by opposition clearly alert to his attacking threat) or the ever-reliable Thomas.

Camelot on the other hand started to use the boot a little more, either a chase out to the wing or a smartly timed grubber between the defensive line. Indeed it was the latter that led to the next score. A bouncing low kick through from Dan caused the full-back problems, as he looked to get his hands on the ball Rocket Norman was there displaying his soccer to kick the ball through, outpacing the defender to pounce just over the tryline to double Camelot's lead. 10-0. Dan converts successfully, and in such a tight match, 12-0 looked a comprehensive lead.

That second score gave Camelot a lift; showing no sign of letting the lead slip and if anything, looking the more likely to add to the score. It looked like Caolan had done just that when he dived over the line from a ruck, but the referee spotted an infringement and the Tring defence were able to clear to touch from the resultant penalty. However, straight from the line-out they were back under pressure, George (playing as a flanker rather than out on the wing) needed no invitation to strike when a Tring defender fumbled a pass out from the line-out; showing amazing strength and pace for so late in the game he made no mistake in scoring Camelot's third try of the game.

The conversion fell short and there was no further scoring as the winning run continued for Camelot. 17-0 does not truly reflect how competitive the match was, and Tring may well be left wondering how they lost that match by such a large scoreline in the end, but huge credit must be given to a Camelot defence that kept a clean sheet against such strong opposition.

After the match the Tring team awarded Caoalan with the Man of the Match award, and Coach Les Long declared: "Both teams stood toe to toe and battled for every metre, every breakdown, every scrum. Massive credit goes to our players for the way they played today and for refusing to let a good Tring side score a single point against us. The togetherness and spirit in our age group is what underpins these performances and means that as parents we get to witness and enjoy what our players are achieving together.

"As we always say, still lots of room to improve but that just makes it all the more exciting as we look forward."

FT: Camelot 17-0 Tring
Tries: Dan, James N, George
Cons: Dan

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