Bancroft vs Old Brentwood 1st XV - Match report
I hard fought win.
Old Brentwood’s 1st XV travelled to Bancroft having beat them at home earlier on in the season. With CPS in full swing numbers were low, with only 32 players available across the club. This meant the 1st Team took 16 players with them and a returning Dean Bourne, who only came to watch but thankfully brought his boots with him. Arriving with good understanding of how Bancroft would look to play and confidence in the way we wanted to play, Old Brentwood’s felt they had a chance of putting in a good performance against the opposition in favourable conditions.
From kick off, Bancroft were set on using their ‘big’ runners around the fringes with lots of pick and go’s and one out running. At times this was successful for them owing to poor organisation and tackle technique from the away side but on the whole it was dealt with well and gave Old Brentwood’s the opportunity to get over the ball, creating a number of turnovers and penalties in the first half.
After Old Brentwood’s failed to convert from the red zone on two occasions, it’s was Bancroft who got on the score board first. A period of pressure from their pack on our 5 metre line resulted in a sin bin for Steve Pearson and them bulldozing over from close range.
Frustrated with their inability to convert earlier on Old Brentwood’s attempted to take the game back to Bancroft with some enthusiastic ball carrying and continued hard work from the pack. We knew we required the phase play to draw them in to create the overlaps but in a first half plagued with penalties and errors it was hard to create those opportunities. As Old Brentwood’s edged closer to Bancroft’s line the game opened up with the referee playing a long period of advantage on which we moved the ball from left to right, dragging their defence with us creating the gaps we were after. With the referee returning for a penalty in the middle of the park, Sam Wilkinson, carrying some holiday weight and a hangover, smashed over from close range. The technically gifted clubman Adam Grace, doing them all a favour by stepping up from the 2nd XV, converted the kick. The final stages of the first half contained more penalties and handling errors with Bancroft kicking a penalty giving them a halftime lead, 9-7.
Two changes for Old Brentwood’s at halftime saw Dean Bourne and Basil Letts join the game bringing additional athleticism and dynamism in the pack and around the fringes. Despite these changes the penalties and errors continued with Old Brentwood’s playing rushed under the pressure of the score board and the clock ticking away. One positive was the defence, Bancroft’s didn’t pose any threats in the second half and their opportunities came from the away teams errors which only resulted in them kicking a penalty in that time. Richard Clarke received a sin bin for a push off the ball but we absorbed this pressure with continued good defensive work and even coming close to scoring on a number of occasions .
Back to full strength and after spending most of the second half in Bancroft’s half of the pitch finally got our breakthrough with Basil Letts taking a quick tap and go, catching them off guard and scoring under the posts. With the opportunity to put Old Brentwood’s into the lead it was an important conversion to take, Nick Clarke missed the really really easy conversion right in front of the posts after taking it off Adam Grace, who had a 100% success rate at that stage.
Nick stated moments later "Adam Grace was reluctant to take the kick in front of the posts, his nemesis it seemed. He persuaded me to take the kick but only offering a cone in place of a kicking tee." Nick buried his head in shame.
This left the score at 13-12 to Bancroft with 10 minutes to go.
Continued pressure from Old Brentwood’s meant we spent the remainder of the game inside Bancroft’s 22 however after five min period plagued with errors the scores were still level. The match winning moment came from a penalty on their 5 meter line in front of the left post. At an impossibly tight angle for a kick at goal Old Brentwood’s tried to play a tap and go, only for the referee to inform them that they had signalled for the posts. Up stepped Adam Grace again to calmly kick what would be the wining points.
With 3 mins left to go Old Brentwood’s received the kick off and absorbed all the pressure Bancroft came back with. After some confusion over the score with the referee, we reminded in control and saw out the final stages to take the win. 15-13
Report by Adam Grace edited by Stuart Smyth.