Raiders u13s continue to improve
With several more new players playing their first ever game of rugby league, the impressive progression of the u13s squad continued as they won 1, lost 1 and drew 2 games at the NEW Ravens festival.
Game 1, v Malvern (1-1)
The Raiders' first game was a nervy one, with both teams looking unsure in attack and hesitant in defence.
Several promising attacking sets were let down by Raiders handling errors, and in defence, individual tackling effort was more prevalent than line speed or numbers in the tackle.
After more than half of the game had passed, the Malvern side were first to break the deadlock when they ran their last play of the set rather than kicking and took our defence by surprise.
This seemed to motivate the Telford lads, however, and shortly before the end of the game, a powerful run down the middle and quick play the ball from debutant Miles gave Ethan the option to attack right and feed James P to go over in the corner.
With a draw in the first game, the Raiders went into the 2nd game needing an improved performance.
Game 2, v Ravens (2-4)
With a much bigger side, and more rugby league experience, the Ravens were always going to provide a sterner test, and they opened the scoring with their first attacking play - one of their big runners breaking through.
Telford's lads replied immediately, however, with an attacking set full of offloads and good footwork from the likes of Harry and debutant Sean; enabling full-back James P to go over on the left late in the set.
But the Ravens also responded quickly, with their big forwards seemingly able to break the line or get offloads away at will.
The pattern continued, and the Raiders' next set took them right to their opposition's line, and with the defence looking for a wide spread play, dummy-half George barged over to level the score at 2 each.
Once again, the home side were next to score, and again it was through a big forward drive, offloading and great support play.
In an effort to get a try back, the Raiders stepped up their defence, got more numbers into the tackle and controlled the offloads better, and Ewan & Dan snuffed out a dangerous play by bundling their winger into touch.
However, it wasn't to be, and after a pass went to ground, the Ravens recovered it and squeezed over on the right to end the game up 4 tries to 2.
Game 3, v Malvern (4-1)
The 2nd game against Malvern provided the lads an opportunity to make up for their slow start in the 1st game, and they did exactly that from the very start.
Miles again provided the big early momentum, nearly carrying the whole Malvern team over the line, and Ethan was able to step and dive over from the resulting play the ball.
Only a few sets later, George repeated his trick from the previous game, this time skilfully picking up an aggressive play the ball to dive over when the defence were expecting the pass.
And after Malvern failed to complete their next set, captain James P went on a trademark run from his own half, breaking multiple tackles to go over in the corner to give Telford a 3 try lead.
Despite conceding a try close to the line to a dummy-half scoot, the Raiders' James P got the final score of the game from close range after good set-up plays from Harry and James M.
With a final score of 4-1 making the combined Malvern result 5-2 across both game, the lads showed that they can play some effective rugby league when they get their combinations right.
Game 4, v Ravens (3-3)
The real test of their progress throughout the day, however, was their final game against the Ravens who had won the first game convincingly, but Telford again started slowly, conceding two early scores after failing to deal with their opposition's bigger runners and multiple offloads.
They dug deep, however, getting back into the game through improved defence, with the likes of Tom and Shak, also in their first game in a Raiders shirt, started to get themselves into the action.
After a good attacking set with strong carries from Sean and Bradley, Harry took advantage of a quick play the ball to beat his opposite men and go over on the left.
And after being given a repeat set through a Ravens error, Miles powered over from dummy-half to even the scores up at 2 tries each.
Both teams, however, then dropped their concentration in defence - the Ravens scored, again through a big runner busting through the middle, and the Raiders replied through James P from the resulting tap restart.
The final 3 minutes were tense as both sides searched for that winning score, and just as the home side looked to break Telford's hearts, James M put on a huge hit that forced an error and saved the day.
On the final whistle, the game score of 3-3 took the combined Ravens score to 5-7 - a result that coaches Alex Smith and Andy Patchett were very proud of as it showed the significant improvement the whole squad has made - even from just a week ago.
Squad: Bradley, Ethan, Ewan, Miles, James P (c), Shak, Harry, James M, Sean, George, Dan, Tom (12).
Tries: James P (5), George (2), Ethan, Miles, Harry