With the sun shining nearly as brightly as the new kits, everyone concerned with the under 12’s knew that this was the game that would truly show how far the boys had come. The Storm are widely regarded as one of the best teams in this age group in the north west and with new signing Michael Ainscough now added to the ranks, the Benchwarmers were looking forward to the challenge.
From the kick off things looked good. The first blue set of 6 were completed followed by a good defensive effort that saw the ball returned to OSJ at the end of the Storm’s first set. Some quick ball saw the home team offside and the first penalty went the way of the visitors. Five tackles later and Josh was held up over the line. From this point, the curse of the new kit struck.
No matter what they did, they could not complete another set of six. Knock on followed knock on. The ball was spilled at the play the ball and during passing sequences. These mistakes put pressure on the boys and the home team needed no further invitation.
By half time, three tries had been conceded and fortunately only one converted. The only rays of hope being Tom B bundling his opposite number into touch and Enis tackling like a man possessed. The storm were cutting the defence to bits. When the half time whistle blew, the coaches had their toughest job of the season.
After the restart it looked like it would be the same again as the home team scored on the first set. However, the coaches’ words had made an impact. The mistakes that littered the first half had been left behind and the Benchwarmers were finally making the Storm work in defence. Finally the breakthrough that everyone had been hoping for. Back to back sets put the Blues in good position. Jordan managed to slip a tackle before being brought down in the final quarter. Michael was fed the ball and like many times before he danced his way through a broken defensive line. A score under the posts that Josh gratefully converted put the visitors ahead (well, in the second half at least).
The heat started to take its toll on the away team. The defensive effort that they had put in during the first half was now coming back to haunt them. The home team were dodging tackles and without some last ditch efforts from Josh and Enis, they could have extended their lead. Unfortunately, a break too far saw a final try from Newton and soon after the final whistle.
Despite losing 24-6, this really was a game of two halves. Mistakes in the first put unnecessary pressure on OSJ without which, it was clear, the game would have been much closer. It was also clear to all the supporters that the boys were not out of their depth. During the second half they exerted pressure and could easily have scored more points.
Still on target to achieve their season’s goal, the boys should take heart from this performance. On their day and without mistakes, they will beat all comers and we will all be there to watch. Well done boys, this was an important game in your development and we all believe you will move on from this.