Toc-BP early season form decapitated at Ruskin Park
A robust encounter saw Toc-BP take some tough treatment and learn some tough lessons in the latest round of the Lancashire Tournament
This week saw the return of the Lancashire RFU Waterfall Tournament and the combined Toc H-Broughton Park Under 13s travel away to play at Ruskin Park RFC. A number of injuries and other reasons saw a reduced squad of 15 players pitch up at the ground in St Helens but as Ruskin Park were shorter still of players the game was played with 12-a-side.
Like us, Ruskin Park had won their first 2 games in the Tournament back in September and so this game was all set to be a crunch match even this early in the season. The early exchanges were fairly even with both teams squandering try scoring chances in the first quarter, with Toc-BP failing to identify the try line to score over and Ruskin Park dropping the ball in the act of scoring as the result of a never say die tackle. The first try when it came was the result of a good scrum for Toc-BP from within their own 22, which after being passed through a couple of pairs of hands saw the ball find its way to Georgie who set off on his customary arching run to get outside the Ruskin Park cover defence and sprint down the left-hand touchline to score. Unfortunately this seemed to act as a turning point in the half as Ruskin Park started to produce some good phases of structured team play which brought them rewards in the form of 3 tries. These included simple hands down the line from a free pass on one side of the pitch for to their winger on the other side to outflank the defence and score, and a simple 2-on-1 from a 5m scrum which saw their scrum half put their winger in to score. In contrast Toc-BP struggled in this period to gain any shape or structure themselves but were only 15-5 down at half time.
The second half saw things continue much in the same manner as Ruskin Park racked up another 3 tries to lead 30 points to 5 by the midpoint of the half. Notable in this period was the increasing height of the tackles coming in from some of the Ruskin Park players. Starting with a couple that were perhaps marginal or accidental high these soon become blatant and dangerous and finally the referee took heed of the remonstrations from the Toc-BP players and the touchline and produced a yellow card for one clothes-line tackle. A minute later a second Ruskin Park player was not actually given a yellow card but asked to take an enforced rest by the referee.
One way or another this finally stirred a bit of fire in the bellies of the Toc-BP players, who produced some outstanding resilience to literally batter themselves back in the game for the finally 10 minutes. Constant infringements by Ruskin Park close to their try line saw Toc-BP award a series of free kicks, which the coaches might have wanted to see move wide into the space but the boys only seemed to see only one way to go – hard and fast through the opposition! Good recycling from a number of rucks finally saw Luuk pop to Leon on another charging run, before Ted picked up from the back of the ruck to drive through the middle and over the line to score. A great riposte from all the team! Ruskin Park, returned to full numbers, did then come back with 2 tries of their own, the second coming from a poor kick out of the Toc-BP twenty-two which was all too easily run back at us. Toc-BP did have the final say with a second try for Georgie and all showing great spirt to keep going to the end and finishing strongly.
Despite being justifiable aggrieved by the tackling of Ruskin Park they were the better team on the day with more structure, composure and handling to create their tries. Whilst Toc-BP may have lacked some of these attributes in their game to produce the teamwork needed for much of the match they all certainly gave some committed individual performances, none more so than the Men of Steel – Matthew in the backs and Sam in the forwards. The same fantastic team spirit but with a bit more teamwork , structure and focus will be needed this week in another Waterfall Tournament game at home to Orrell.