Old Brentwood 24 vs Woodford 5
“Tackle Boys” yelled a familiar voice and they did....
After several weeks of travel the wet conditions could not dampen the sense of warmth generated by playing at home at last!
Woodford are always a very strong team and this fixture has traditionally produced some close matches and great rugby, in acknowledgement of this fact we were scheduled to play on the first team pitch and the comfort of the grandstand !!
As the boys warmed up a further surprise materialised in the form of Mr Davidson making a special appearance. After some persuasion (? “Cough”) he agreed to give the boys a small pep talk ahead of the games start.
Mr Cobbe had kindly agreed to referee and got proceedings underway to much cheering from a large crowd. It was immediately clear that in the conditions the forwards of both sides were going to be key to the pace of the game and the opening rucks and mauls were fiercely contested. Mr Davidson offered the occasional quiet!! support from the stand “Tackle Boys”, “Use the ball” and “where is his support” echoed across the pitch. Tackle is certainly what our boys did led by the captain Walker who quickly showed the team what he expected ..nothing less than 110% commitment. The pack in particular responded with Blunderfield continuing his excellent form this season particularly at the break down alongside Christopher, Scott and Torrado. It was the forwards that manufactured the first break pushing deep into the Woodford 22. From a ruck Torrado and Vickers showed deft hands and intelligent play to suck in defenders and offload to Morely who ran in the first try to the corner. More strong forward play followed with the OB’s forwards having the better of the loose play but with Woodfords scrum being heavier and stronger Christopher still managed to win many hooks including several against the head and Cottage and an ever lively Beaty communicated well at 8 and 9 nine to secure the ball.It was from a scrum that the backs were released from just inside the Woodford half with Cobbe at 10 making the plays. Paulin joined the attack from fullback creating a one on one opportunity for Morely on the wing whom showed typical powerful running to cross for his second try of the match. The half ended with Sagomba showing his running ability and strength as he combined with Griffin to burst through the Woodford centre at pace step the full back and cross under the posts, adding the conversion. The half ended 17 – 0 to OB’s .
The second half saw a few changes as the bench was utilised as the pace of play and physicality continued unabated. Woodford started the half strongly building consistent pressure on the OB’s defence. Some intelligent kicking and strong chases saw the OB team on the backfoot, with Letch and Morely both working hard to provide much needed cover and support. Walker rallied his troops again leading by example with the pack following and fighting hard to deny Woodford every yard. Moss was brought on to add fresh legs and tenacity at the breakdown and quickly made his presence felt alongside Reid who was having a superb game with an immense work rate and tackle count. Sandle and Shurety were also added to relieve tired legs as the pace of play and conditions took their toll. Davidson junior came in at 10 and made a number of great clearance kicks to relieve the pressure on the OB’s line. Woodford however continued to press with determined rugby and eventually managed to make the space on their left and their winger streaked for the line and a well deserved score.
OB’s regrouped and increased their efforts with more superb tackling and contested every breakdown with great vigour. As the half drew to a close Elliott- Gratze secured loose ball on the right , Cottage as ever eager to carry the ball picked and drove on.. the forwards piled in clearing out the Woodford pack and Jessop, on at 9, ensured the backs received quick accurate ball just inside the OB half. This was perhaps the best move of the entire game a classic piece of rugby with each member of the backs running hard and straight drawing their man and offloading. It ended with Sagomba’s final pass to Paulin who with the line beckoning (and certain spectators screams echoing across the pitch ‘Cheri’) was never going to be stopped( the clip is worth a watch!). It was, however, in my mind a fantastic team try engineered through good solid rugby... Sagomba converted and the final whistle blew OB’s 24 – Woodford 5.
Upon reflection it was the teams stoic defence, tackling and the forwards, in particular Walker and Reid, work rate to get to and contest the breakdown that stood out. It was a whole team effort with every member pulling together and encouraging each other, communicating and responding to up their game… Lessons learned on the wet cabbage patch, sorry, training pitch being put in to practice !!
Woodford as always pressed hard and played great rugby never giving up and alongside their equally passionate supporters showed again why this is always such a great fixture . Special thanks to Mr Cobbe who was excellent as referee and ensured play was passionate and safe.
This was certainly one of those tougher tests and the boys, well they were a huge credit to themselves and their coaches (both old and new).