With Chewy and Squeaks having gone to pastures new, Poppadom retired and goal machine Elvis injured, the Redbacks started the season looking a much changed outfit. However, the Wiltshire team are evolving into something special. Training is so enjoyable that lashing rain has not stopped players requesting the session to be extended.
Saturday was a day to begin to put this training into practice with new positive team rules, hard bodies and clear minds. The league standard bearer Bournemouth Demons (who have made every Grand Final except 2008) won the early hit outs and clearances to provide ball to their big forward line, led by Lee Ellison. The early goal went to the Demons and the Redbacks were not fazed. Sticking to team rules and remaining calm under pressure, the Redbacks started to gain control of the midfield with regular rotations and going hard at the ball or pinning opponents who had it. The energy in contact areas of captain Johnny Hope-Smith was evident to all. Johnny’s fine example was followed by the guile of Tom Case, power of Rory Auld and enthusiasm of star new player James Talbot enabling the Redbacks to take control of much of the clearances for a period.
Up front Aaron Gale was at his impish best, sneaking goals again. 2nd year players and young guns Emerson Wray and Connor Adams were very busy harassing the Demons defence when the ball came to ground, which it did often. The Redbacks defence of Andy Stevenson, Rob Fielder, Liam Ralph and vice captain Luke Cottis kept a lid on much of the Demons created. Stevenson is a fearsome sight in full flow and bust a few packs. Cottis is coming back from injury well and showed some good touches. Man of the match Connor ‘Reagles’ Adams showed some real development in his play, getting his hands dirty for his team and showing some improved touches in midfield and in the forward line.
Moment of the day was when Wray the lightest player on the field pinned the biggest burly LeRoux in a tackle. LeRoux was so upset at being held that he threw the ball away in disgust at himself, rewarding Wray with another 15m forward for un-sportsman like conduct. The Demons had Lockie Kerr rolling back the years and controlling things as normal, giving James Talbot a valuable lesson to learn from. Damien LeRoux (despite his one transgression), Lee Ellison and Simon Constant were as solid as normal for the Dorset side, but didn’t have enough support on the day.
Chippenham Redbacks 17.15 = 117
Bournemouth Demons 8.15 = 63
Team v Demons (with goal amounts after name)
Johnny Hope-Smith 1
Tom Case 1
Aaron Gale 6
Emerson Wray 2
James Talbot 1
Rory Auld 1
Rob Fielder 1
Liam Ralph 4
Written by Rob Fielder