Datch U14's just lose out to Bank of England in tight encounter South of the River
Close, but no cigar for the boys in Green, with the bragging rights unfortunately remaining locked up in the BoE vaults.
Another beautiful morning for the second of our Pool Games, this time seeing us take the long schlep down to Roehampton to play Bank of England. Having never played them before, and seeing their 61-7 result recorded against Cheshunt recently, there was an air of apprehension among the boys, especially as we were just 15 with no subs. As it turned out, Bank themselves only had 13 players, so we agreed to play a 13 man game with uncontested scrums, which was a shame for us after a strong scrummaging display against Tabard recently.
From the kick off, our lads played with intent, and within 2 minutes we saw the ball spread out to Connor B on the left wing who opened up his feet to outpace several retreating defenders and take his first try of the morning. Sweetly converted by Danny, we were 0-7 up within 3 minutes, and spirits were high. However, we had a lot of uncharacteristic handling errors from thereon in, brought on extensively by the excellent defensive pressure Bank were putting on us. Their line speed from the rucks and scrums was extremely fast and well executed, and this pressure was frustrating our lads' efforts to get the ball out to the line. A kick chase by Bank behind our defensive line saw them close it down, and at least appear from the sidelines to dab it down over the whitewash, but it was not awarded, and a 22m drop out was given which was something of a puzzlement for our lads, having not had to take one before! With continued pressure, we managed to keep them at bay until the 21st minute of the 1st half, when they broke free to make it 7-7 with a converted try. Right before the close of the 1st half, another fine run down the wing by Connor B and a conversion by Danny saw us go into the break 7-14 up.
As the 2nd half kicked off, our kick made it's way to the arms of one of their own speedsters, who hared down the right wing practically unimpeded to get a try on the board within 30 seconds. He made it difficult for his kicker by popping it down in the far right corner, from where he couldn't quite make the conversion, hitting the left post to make it 12-14. As the game drew on, again we seemed to panic with the defensive pressure they were piling on us, forgetting from time to time the basic principal of taking the ball forward , and some loose passing saw a Bank interception run in under the posts to make it 19-14 following the easy conversion.
From the next kick off, Datch put some pressure of their own on Bank, and we gained a free kick 5 metres from their line, and some smart thinking saw Danny take the tap and pop it up to Sam at full tilt who thundered over the line. Another conversion from Danny gave us the lead 19-21. Datch later won a penalty within kicking distance of Danny's boot, but unfortunately it was pulled wide, his only miss of the day, not helped by some dubious attempt to charge down his kick from deep. With only minutes left on the clock, Bank's tactic from there was obvious, doing all they could to get the ball to their tall speedster on the left wing. After a few attempts, and despite some valiant defending from Datch, he finally broke through and scored in the left corner. The conversion was missed, but the scoreline was now 24-21, with just seconds left on the clock. The final kick off was taken well by the Bank receiver, and subsequently kicked straight out to close the game.
A disappointing result for the boys of course, with some key areas to be worked on in training including basic handling under pressure, ensuring forward momentum is maintained through the phases, and generally dealing with the rush defence as well as practicing it, but on the whole it was a good run out, and a well matched game in the HML Pool system.