...despite challenging weather conditions
Unfortunately Steve E, currently away in New York, missed this match. This particular match report is written by OE U16 Player, Ben Cole. My compliments to you, Ben, for an excellent report. My congratulations to the team for a great result vs Bracknell. And thank you for sending me the photo! Ben's words from this point onwards...
The boys had their longest away match against Bracknell and in professional fashion decided to get a coach for the journey. Upon arrival at the club, it was clear the wet and windy conditions would be unfavourable to the running style that the team has encouraged this season and it would be a tough forwards battle, especially against a large pack.
The first half was kicked off by Harry Sheppard, returning to the starting line-up for the first time in months, and the OEs high pressure defence began. The game was predominantly played in the Bracknell half, and this domination of the territory forced the opposition to make mistakes or give possession back to Old Elthamians. Powerful runs through the centres and wings made good yardage, but the strong Bracknell pack often resulted in unclean ball for the backs to use. A useful option employed by the team was to keep the opposition pinned back in their half, and excellent tactical kicking from our reinstated fly half gave very good field position. However, injuries to fullback Chris and winger Josh did hamper the progression of the team. OEs stayed strong though and, spurred on by their fallen team-mates, managed to score through Manny who ran a powerful line to score in the corner. The OEs defence remained resolute for the rest of the first period, giving a half-time score of 5-0.
Replacements were made at half-time, and the fresh legs allowed OEs to keep up their excellent pressure in both attack and defence. The team managed to win their own line-outs and scrums, and a few against the throw/head. As the conditions worsened though, both teams began to make mistakes, and neither could get a clear scoring opportunity. OEs did manage to secure ball at the break down better though, and so more and more chances opened up. A few more substitutions midway through the second half allowed OEs to begin to dominate the final moments of the match, notably a blindside break from Krish Preddy and, after being turned over at the breakdown, forced a kick to touch from the opposition. The line-out was won cleanly by OEs who spread the ball and set up a few phases of forward drives. When the ball was finally spread, Josh Squries got an easy run in to the corner. This was to be the final act of the match, a hard-fought 10-0 victory.
As the final whistle blew, both teams cheered; partly in recognition of the great competition of the game, but mainly because it meant they could run into the showers. The game was played in great spirit, and thanks go to Bracknell for their hospitality.
Special mention should go to Kelan, who stepped up to play prop in the shortage of players, and coped very well under the immense scrummage.