Sheffield Colts Into The National Cup Semi Final
Sheffield Hang On To Win Tense Encounter
Well that was intense..... !
It was a lovely day in Sheffield and the rain held off just long enough to allow a game of Rugby to be played with an intensity and passion that is only very occasionally seen.
Having beaten Lymm (last years U17 Cup Runners Up) we faced last years U17 Vase Runners up Bromsgrove.
The game started just as it did against Lymm with the opposition all over us. Bromsgrove's front row power and line speed was making it very difficult for Sheffield get any sort of foothold - and when we did we were undone by some sloppy play and to be fair the defence of Bromsgrove - we were very very unsettled.
Within 10 minutes Bromsgrove made a break which was brought down short of the line but the constant pressure brought its rewards and they broke through to score. The conversion was missed from a tightish angle. Bromsgrove continued with their domination and not 5 minutes later Sheffield having knocked on fell a further try behind from the resulting scrum and power play of Bromsgrove. We were 0-12 down and looking fragile.
Warren played his cards early and sent on Archie Crapper and then 2 minutes later Louis Gilder to boost the Sheffield forward line - this seemed to have the desired effect. With a little more speed and physicality introduced Sheffield gradually started to make inroads into the opposition half - Sheffield's tackling intensity also increased and that just introduced a little bit of uncertainty into the Bromsgrove ranks - as well as the circulating Bromsgrove Coach loudly telling them how wonderful they all were doing well in earshot of the Sheffield pack. But as anyone who has watched Sheffield play this season will know, they never, ever give up - and that could be seen in the first half when a repulsed Bromsgrove attack was celebrated as if it were a try - and from then on the tide of the game slowly turned.
Sheffield were now making headway (almost a carbon copy of the Lymm game) and after a resulting period of (admittedly) rare Sheffield pressure at the end of the half a penalty was gained and they took the three points on offer. Sheffield did repulse one more attack but the half ended with Bromsgrove in the lead and rightly so.
The second half though was a different affair altogether. Sheffield not only upped their intensity the backs started to click and started to show the skill, speed and thought that has characterised much of the season. The forwards fronted up and built platforms for the backs to build on. Ed Topley was playing superbly at fullback and ,mopping up any kicks into our half and setting possession to build on. Sheffield's tackling also took on another level with Matt Hale, Jack Taylor, Louis Gilder, Joe Peckett and Archie Crapper all making stand out interventions, Kai Ramratten was marshalling his forces and Ben White was a constant threat and it was after 6 minutes of the second half that Sheffield broke through with Elliot Fisher, who must be a contender for the most improved player this season, latching on to the ball and drive his way over the line to the far left of the posts. The atmosphere changed and Sheffield could now smell blood.
From the 20th to the 27th minute Sheffield's back play ripped open the Bromsgrove defence, they could not cope with skill and speed shown by Kai Ramratten, Ben White, Sam Veall, Ed Topley, Sam Thompson, Harry Greaves and Elliot Fisher. The first try was a combination break involving all the backs with Sam Veall at the heart of it eventually releasing Finn Waller to score a superb try in the right hand corner. Two minutes later Sam Veall with a legendary break tore down the field and scored just left of the posts (Ben White converting) and 5 minutes after that another sublime Sam Veall break who's perfectly delayed pass released Sam Thompson to score another superb try - Bromsgrove looked shattered! Sheffield were surely on their way to the Semi Finals.........
With (officially) only 6 or 7 minutes left Bromsgrove mounted their own version of the Battle of the Bulge - just like the ill fated German attack in the dying embers of world war 2 Bromsgrove threw everything but the kitchen sink at Sheffield - but were initially being held. Eventually Bromsgrove's determination and driving mauls got them what surely was a consolation try - only for them to do the same again 3 minutes later, with Sheffield conceding penalty after penalty. This time they converted and were amazingly only four points from victory and again they poured forward, with Sheffield playing rope a dope being punched repeatedly. Still they tackled manfully despite their obvious tiredness and they were rewarded with a penalty against Bromsgrove for holding on (I think) and Ed Topley dutifully kicked it into touch to end the game - much to the teams and home supporters immense relief!
Another exhausting game to watch after Lymm and Old Brods but Sheffield showed again what they are made of and they never know when to give in and the team spirit is amazing.
Next round is again at home against Tynedale and once again it will not be an easy game - Sheffield must regroup and be ready.