Raiders u13s find their home festival tough going!
It was a long morning for the Telford lads on an overcast morning at the Phoenix Sports Centre, as the visiting teams proved too strong for a squad still learning the game and how to play together more effectively.
Game 1: v Falcons B (lost 4-7)
The team were confident going into the first game, as they had beaten the Falcons B team earlier in the season, but the visitors were a much improved outfit this time round, and the Raiders didn't really get out of the blocks!
Conceding a try right from the kick-off due to a ragged kick chase gave the visitors momentum immediately, but Telford settled back in and replied quickly with an effective, offload driven attacking set that full-back James P finished off wide on the right.
However, the Falcons' large forwards, good distributers and particularly strong running full-back enabled them to take control with two quick tries.
Just before the break, another Falcons try loomed, but an attempted wide pass was fantastically intercepted by Tom who broke downfield and fed captain James P to make the score 2-3.
The 2nd half saw an early Falcons try cancelled out by James P's third score of the game, starting on the right and breaking through wide on the left, after good build up from Harry and Bradley.
After a break while a suspected neck injury to a Falcons player was assessed (thankfully not serious), the Raiders lost their momentum - and too many offloads took the sting out of their attack, while the Falcons continued to use their bigger forwards and effective wide runners to score two further tries.
Shortly before the end, a better string of attacking plays was finished off by Ethan with good footwork to power over from 10m out.
The Falcons, however, got the last score of the game - and the final score of 4-7 was clearly disappointing to the players as they prepared for their next game.
Game 2: v Falcons A (lost 1-10)
Having comprehensively defeated the Ravens in their first game, the Falcons A team were to provide even tougher opposition for the Telford lads, but it didn't seem like that when James P opened the scoring early in the game after good set-up work from Ethan and Alex.
But the quality of the opposition then showed through and, combined with uncharacteristic missed tackles and lack of effective line speed from Telford, they scored 5 unanswered tries to make it 1-5 at half-time.
Coaches Alex Smith & Andy Patchett identified too many offloads in attack and lack of talk and a straight line in defence as the main areas for improvement, much of which the lads attempted to rectify in the second half.
But, despite some huge hits from the likes of James M and Bradley, and aggressive runs with the ball from Sean, Ethan and Harry, the Falcons side continued their dominance with 5 unanswered scores.
At the final whistle, the score was 1-10 with the Raiders lads exhausted and well beaten.
Game 3: v Ravens (lost 3-7)
For the final game of the festival, Telford faced NEW Ravens, but despite the sides being closely matched just a fortnight before, the Raiders morale was severely dented from the previous games and they never really got into the game.
After an opening try by James P created by good build up from Dan and Lewis, the Ravens responded with two quickfire tries - both down the right with Telford failing to number off on both occasions.
Hooker George then burrowed over from dummy-half (starting to become his signature play) to even the score up at 2 each, after good breaks by James M and Sean; but it was one-way traffic for most of the remaining game.
With much of their defensive aggression drained, Ravens scored 5 further tries, with a score from dummy-half by Ethan the only reply from Telford.
A final score of 3-7 meant that the Raiders home festival was a tough day for the lads without a win, but with the right response in training there is no doubt that they can turn it round. There is plenty of individual skill available, and those new to the game, such as Shakeel and James L, are beginning to understand the game much better - so the squad should look to the next few games with confidence.
Squad: James P, James M, James L, Shak, George, Ethan, Harry, Bradley, Dan, Tom, Lewis, Sean, Alex