Raiders u13s impress against Flintshire Falcons
Following heavy defeats earlier in the season, the Telford lads showed huge improvement and strength of character to score 9 tries past the strongest team they've played this year.
Full disclosure - this report was written from the coaches notes which gave the game to Raiders 9 tries to 8, but the actual accepted result as per the referee was Raiders 9 Falcons 11. Whilst there may be confusion over the final score, what is very clear is how much better this performance was than the previous games between the two sides!
After retaining possession with a kick-off that bounced and went out of play, the Telford lads opened with a strong set - timing their runs, taking the pass at speed and on the advantage line and making the defence work hard to stop them - enabling James P to get over down the right hand side.
Flintshire compounded their position by losing the ball in possession two sets in a row, and Telford doubled their lead with a trademark Miles run from 15m out powering through multiple defenders, with Dan directing well from hooker.
The visitors got back into the game, however, when a high Raiders tackle attempt gifted them a repeat set, and subsequent missed tackles gifted them a try.
Benji then produced the first of many good, strong line breaks to feed captain James P to take the score to 3-1; and after more Flintshire handling errors, James P beat several attempted tackles to get his third score with only 15 minutes on the clock, Ethan and Tom ably guiding the left and right teams from first receiver.
The Falcons showed how dangerous they could be, however, when they finished a good set with a kick to force a dropout, and worked superior numbers to score down the left. And then, after an ankle injury to enforcer James M, they got within a score with another try from close range.
Ewan, injecting himself into the attack from full-back and running with real vigour, got the Raiders back on the front foot, and James P was able to get over twice more before half-time, meaning that at the break, despite a Falcons try in reply, the Raiders held a 6-4 lead.
The handling errors that affected Flintshire in the first half, affected the Raiders after half-time, enabling the visitors to get two quick tries and equalise the scores, but a good response saw another Benji line-break, offload to Ewan & Tom spread the ball well to create a James P score.
After a sustained period of alternating sets between the sides, including an awesome try-saving tackle in the corner by James P and hard work from Alex and Lewis, Telford took a 2 score lead with a try from deep in their own half - started off by Sean & Ewan and finished by a mazy James P run.
Flintshire then pulled level once again, with a try from a kick return deep in their own half and then wide down the left after injuries to Dan and James P.
The final score of the game was to come from Telford, however, when Benji took an early carry, broke the line and then accelerated round the cover defence to great cheers from the crowd! And, just before the final whistle, some awesome defence from Harry & Bradley bundled a Falcons player in to touch to snuff out a dangerous set.
Coach Alex Smith said after the game "what impressed me today wasn't just the improvement shown by the players individually since our first outing against these guys, but the way they dug deep and responded as a team when key team-mates left the field through injury - that strength of character will see them through a lot of tough games in future".
Squad: James P, James M, Miles, Benji, Dan, Tom, Ethan, Harry, Lewis, Alex, Ewan, Sean, Bradley