A trip to Winchester in late summer provided a good test for the U16s as they work their way into the season.
The morning provided a wide range of weather conditions; gusting winds, squally showers and some sunny intervals.
The blues opted to start with the wind against and it took some time to master the conditions.
Winchester used the breeze to dominate territory and early possession and strong defensive tackling from Toby and a particularly crunching tackle from Matt Stent kept the home side at bay.
However the forwards failed to tidy a tapped lineout ball and Winchester's loose forwards drove through the line and scored in the corner after 6 minutes. 5.0
From the restart Redingensians began to make ground and a tap & go from a penalty in the middle of the park took the forwards up 30 yards.
Desperate Winchester defending saw them concede more close range penalties. Opting for the scrummage both times the pack won good ball and from the second worked the ball left and when held up the pack drove over the line for Joe Tichband to score close to the posts. James Duncan
converted and the score moved to 5 7. 12 minutes.
The hosts responded from the kick off and pressured Redingensian's backs into an error which conceded a Scrum just over the halfway line. Winchester won clean ball and attacked first down the right then back to the left scoring in the corner again but failing to convert regained a 10 7 lead.
As the middle of the half approached the Redingensians pack began to gain the upper hand in the set plays and put Winchester's scrummage under severe pressure. Some good forward driving in mauls and rucks from the pack with the front row of Joe Tich, Greg Chalk and Josh Pallet working hard to secure possession.
Redingensians then won 2 scrums against the head as the pack began to dominate and from the second a number 8 pick and go put Tom Russell away to score on the right. Redingensians regained the lead 10 -12.
As the half drew to a close the bulk of the play settled in the middle of the pitch with both sides working hard to win clean ball in the loose. Strong tackling from David Canham amongst the backs and some big hits up front from Will Morrison kept Winchester at bay. A superb piece of defensive work at the front of an attacking lineout by Greg Chalk seemed to nullify Winchester's attacking efforts.
However Redingensians were caught offside at a Winchester rolling maul and from the resulting penalty Winchester regained the lead 13 -12.
The early exchanges of the second half were littered with errors on both sides as each adjusted to the changes in conditions. Ominously for Winchester they were now losing most of their own scrums.
Josh in particular was giving his opposite number a torrid time and this gave a platform for the back row to begin to dominate.
Whilst the first 15 minutes of the second half were scoreless it as clear that Redingensians were gaining control. Tom Russell intercepted a slow Winchester backs move and took the ball into the opposing 25. Winchester conceded a scrum and at the scrum conceded a free kick. Quick thinking and a tap and go saw Joe Norman drive over to hand the lead back to Redingensians 13 -17
Continuing to dominate set play the pack forced another free kick which new winger Olly Dunn ran at the home defense, jinking and breaking tackles his off load to Will Morrison a short drive to the line. 13 -22
As the squalls came and went Redingensians were taking more and more control with Aidan using the wind more effectively to dominate position with some good kicking from hand.
playing in the unusual position of Full Back was begining to enjoy running back Winchester kicks. With about 3 minutes remaining another strong tackle from Davey Canham broke up a Winchester attack in midfield the forwards pounced on the loose ball and drove toward the line, when they were stoped the ball was worke left for James Duncan
to earn the final score in the corner.
13 -27 Final score.
A good second outing for the team. It took a little while to master the elements, and many players were out of position however the team didn't panic and once they settled the scrummage in particular gave the backs good attacking options.
Nest Week High Wycombe away.