North fall to narrow defeat after brave fightback in Weston
Massive pack effort by North fails to earn deserved result
North headed south down the M5 to Weston-super-Mare for their second match of the season against Weston Hornets on a dull, grey Sunday morning. North welcomed back Luke and Ollie H for their first game of the season, at hooker and second row respectively, as they lined up on the immaculate, RFU sponsored, 3G pitch.
Alfie, at scrum-half, kicked off for the visitors with a stiff breeze blowing from left to right across the pitch. North were immediately on the front foot and an excellent passing move almost resulted in the opening try after two minutes with Mac just being edged into touch inches short of the try line in the left corner. From the ensuing line out, Hornets were able to clear their lines and make their way into the North half, where, with the benefit of some fortunate bounces and narrow refereeing decisions, they managed to drive over from close in for the first score after six minutes.
Four minutes later, Joe Bees made a great break down the right, but was stopped by an unintentional high tackle; Alfie kicked the resultant penalty to touch for a 5m lineout from which Joe Brake drove across the line, only to be bundled into touch before he could touch down.
Again, Hornets made their way safely to midfield and a missed tackle by North allowed them in for their second try on 14 minutes; 10-0 to Hornets, both conversions having been missed.
Three minutes later, Hornets, from a lineout on our 22 on the left, moved the ball quickly through the hands and ran in for their third and best try; 15-0 to Hornets, no conversion. George, visibly carrying an injury, was replaced by James at this point with James taking up the fly half position and Tom moving to full back.
First half ended with North trailing 15-0 and rueing some very near misses.
For the second half, all the remaining subs, Alex, Jamie, Chris and Dougie came on to replace Riley, Matthew, Joe Brake and Jake. This meant a complete new front row with Alex and Jamie as props and Chris as hooker, with Luke moving to the left wing.
North secured possession from the Hornets’ restart and three minutes in, James ghosted through the defence on the 10m line, but lack of support meant the move broke down. However, North were now starting to dominate and a slick move saw Tom coming into the line along the left, but unfortunately he chose to turn infield when a chip kick might have been a better option. Minutes later a sweet passing move from a lineout on the left presented Panashe with a slight opening but he was held up just short near the right corner.
North were now in the ascendancy with their forwards totally in control at the scrums. Their pressure eventually paid off when North drove Hornets back on their own 5m scrum, allowing Alfie to steal and quickly feed James on the left who wriggled his way over to pull a try back for North. North now trailed 5-15 following missed conversion
George, now recovered from his earlier knock, returned to the fray, replacing Panashe on the right wing, with Joe Brake also coming on for Dougie who was feeling the effects of rustiness in his first match of the season.
North were now in control and Mac was again narrowly denied in the right corner following a darting break. North were awarded a 5m scrum for a knock on, from which the North pack totally demolished Weston allowing Mike to pick up from the base and plough over for North’s second try on 14 minutes. Tom, now assuming kicking duties, was narrowly wide with his conversion attempt so North now trailed by 5 points and scented victory.
North continued to exert pressure and the final 10 minutes was primarily played in the Hornets half, but, unfortunately the break just wouldn’t come; a missed knock-on by a Hornets defender under pressure could possibly have yielded a close in opportunity for the dominant North scrum, but that wasn’t to be and North fell to a narrow defeat, 10-15.
The match was played in a true sporting spirit with Hornets endeavouring to play fast, open rugby in the proper manner. They were excellent hosts and there was a great friendly buzz from their club house.
North, despite trailing by 15 points at one point, refused to let their heads drop and fought back valiantly and deserved to salvage at least a draw. There were great performances across the pitch and it is difficult to single out individuals, but Will, both Ollies and Joe Brake excelled. Mike was also more back like himself and also had an excellent game. In the scrum, the sheer power of Alex and Jamie provided a tremendous go-forward platform and quick ball for the backs.
Well done lads, we’re very proud of your performance today
Footnote: It was remarkably quiet on the touch line today – it might have had something to do with North’s No.1 supporter, Vicky, being absent!!
Tries: James, Mike
Line Up: 1.Joe Brake 2.Luke 3.Jake 4. Ollie H 5.Riley 6.Will 7.Ollie S 8.Mike 9.Alfie 10.Tom Bennett 11.Matthew 12.Mac 13. Joe Bees 14.Panashe 15.George
Replacements: 20.Alex 21.Dougie 22.James 23.Chris 24.Jamie